I use this blog to reflect and distill my thinking about simulations and games for learning. I look for ready to use resources to quickly create active learning experiences that engage and inform. I also share, news, ideas, and just for fun.


Augmenting Reality

While at the North American Simulation and Gaming Conference this past October we saw several examples of augmented reality games. We were particularly intrigued by the aurasma app. The application and service allows you to create videos or other content that is revealed by pointing your smartphone or iphone camera at an image. You can see how it works in this demo of the app for teaching.

We thought it had good possibilities for learning development and were dying to try it. To test it out we created a team building session for a work team that combined informational updates with a scavenger hunt through the building with a secret agent theme. Participants had to find signs and posters around the building. When they pointed a smartphone at the sign a short video would play on their device with an update on a team project. The briefing also contained a clue for the accomplishment of the "agents" mission. Teams had an engaging time while getting briefed on the various projects that were underway in the organiztion.

Developing and using the app does have its challenges. Taking pictures of the images you want to use and making associated videos does take some time. he images need to be distinct for the app to recognize them. One sign that we used was too similar to some other signs in the building, all of them would trigger the app.  In conjuection with the app there is a web based service called Aurasma Studio. This is where you upload the images you want to use to start the videos as well as the videos themselves.

In terms of play, the first phone we used was a bit underpowered and the app did not run well. We then switched to an iphone and Samsung galaxy S4 and it worked nicely. Participants need to download and install the app and (at least for the free version) find the channel you have created.

Overall we felt that aurasma had lots of potential for new employee or student orientation. You could create a self guided tour of the building or campus and provide information at the place where it would be applied.

In the course of learning to use the app we found this helpful tutorial page from The Teaching Palette you can get a step by step on the site. Let us know if you give it a try.

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