New digital technologies (such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and geocaching) enable us to transform our experiences in the real world. In essence, we are increasingly able to include layers of virtual and augmented reality, replete with information and visual transformations, in our real world interactions.
In a previous blog entry, Cultivating a Maker’s Attitude, I shared the perspective that blending high-tech and hands-on (e.g. crafts) yields a new way of creating and working in the world. In the past, we enjoyed a dichotomy between working with your mind and working with your hands, even though it is ridiculous to think that you could do the latter without being fully engaged. Still, the latter has long been seen as less valuable. That is why “college ready” has held such a high appeal, while going to “vocational” schools been seen as a disappointment, a failure somehow to realize the full potential of a human being.
Yet that perspective and understanding of the world must change. If we raise our children to be college ready, it must be with a deeper appreciation of hands-on work because technology enables us to create and interact with the world around us in ways we have never been able to do before. Augmented reality is just one of the ways.
Consider the video from Smartly Things of the augmented reality sandbox, as well as this one of the Lawrence Hall of Science AR sandbox. In each video, it’s clear that hands-on in the best way to interact with the topography of a map enhanced by augmented reality. Beyond the coolness factor, we begin to experience the world in a physical and digital way that fundamentally transforms our experience as human beings.
In her blog entry How to Use Augmented Reality to Transform Your Classroom, Patricia Brown points out:
Using the Aurasma App and Aurasma Studio, you can create your own “Auras” (or AR experiences), and use them to engage students in creative ways. For example, jazz up your school’s art show, or make math come alive through videos of students solving math problems–perhaps students can trigger an Aura by pointing their smartphone at a particular equation. You could even attach a trigger image to a Google Form to request time with the school counselor, or make a class picture image on your teacher website trigger a virtual tour of a classroom.
AR is obviously finding its way into our lives in new and different ways that involve seeing the world around us in a digital, augmented way. This augmentation brings a richness of experience not previously possible. Consider Katie Ann Wilson’s (Diary of a Tech Chick blog) description of a new app that allows her to see things in a different way:
BlippBuilder is Blippar‘s augmented reality platform where you can create one of a kind augmented experiences. I started experimenting on creating augmented educational 360° experiences. I took a picture of the Great Pyramid and integrated some facts. I’ve even included a map of Egypt. The possibilities of creating reach augmented educational content.
After you scan the above image, tap anywhere on the image when prompted and, like magic, you just brought 360° experience of the pyramids to your classroom.
Katie Ann adds that there are several educational applications, including creating augmented learning experiences for national landmarks, zoos, historical sites, field trips, historical reenactment, art gallery, museums, and other environments. You can start to see that technology activities that intersect with the physical, such as geocaching, are finding their way into daily life.
Geocaching, as well as augmented reality, provide an entry point for those who may be skeptical of living, teaching, and learning at the intersection of the physical and virtual. AR and VR, augmented reality and virtual reality, respectively, allow us to enhance the physical with a wealth of information, knowledge, and experience.
Geocaching is the hunt for any of more than 2 million geocaches worldwide hidden by folks like you. Each treasure hunt will take you to a fun, creative or beautiful place outdoors. Geo means earth and cache means hidden item. Geocaches range from very small (like a film canister) to large (such as a metal lunch box). Many are camouflaged, but they are not buried. Geocaches hold things like a log book to sign your name, tradable items for kids and adults, and more. To find a geocache, use a GPS unit or smartphone app to find the coordinates (the exact location) of a geocache nearby. Adapted from source: Texas State Parks
Apps like those shown below can enhance our experiences as we go “treasure-hunting.” It is not too big a stretch of the imagination to see the merging of augmented reality and geocaching. These enable us to engage and learn in ways that enrich the human experience. We must provide our students with these innovative learning opportunities.
- GeoCaching (free with in-app purchases)
- c:geo (free)
- A Drake (free)
- NeonGeo ($4.26)
- CacheSense ($5.00)
- Locus Pro ($7.50 | free)
- GeoCaching (free with in-app purchases)
- iGeoKnife ($3.99)
- Geosphere ($7.99)
- Looking 4 Cache Pro (Free | $8.99)
- GeoCaching Buddy ($9.99)
While geocaching appears to enable us to insert geomarkers into the geosphere we all live in, augmented reality can actually see the world appear to be transformed. Molding the virtual reality provides new insights into the physical, making teaching and learning how to for young learners critical for the future. Consider these predictions:
Some economists are predicting Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) will be the 7th and biggest media technology revolution in history (the first being movable type of the Guttenberg press and the last few being the internet and mobile devices). Markets will exceed $150 billion by 2020. Scientists have been predicting this for decades while writers have been predicting this for centuries…our measure of our success will be how we can make this real world a better place. This will be done by sharing the power of our imagination and the passion of our vision within future virtual worlds. Its about inspiration, learning, exploring, sharing, living more purposefully. Source: Virtual World Society
To learn about where VR is heading, check out this article.
What a powerful question: How can we as educators help our children learn to make the real world a better place through the use of augmented and virtual reality? The answer may be simpler than you think. Begin by introducing them to geocaching, learning spatial science, as well as exploring how to augment reality in their portion of the geosphere.
This blog was updated with additional resources on November 7, 2017.