In Search of Educational Applications Using Augmented Reality


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The last three Horizon Reports (for 2009, 2010 and 2011) have listed Geo-Everything, Augmented Reality, Mobile Computing, and Mobiles as technology that will impact education over the next 2-5 years. This session will chronicle the presenter's search for a relevant instructional use of this technology. The journey includes an exploration of mobile tools for geocaching and waymarking that ultimately led to the discovery of mobile apps (TagWhat, SCVNGR) that use augmented reality (AR) and can be adapted for educational purposes.

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  • The last three Horizon Reports (for 2009, 2010 and 2011) have listed Geo-Everything, Augmented Reality, Mobile Computing, and Mobiles as technology that will impact education over the next 2-5 years. This session will chronicle the presenter's search for a relevant instructional use of this technology. The journey includes an exploration of mobile tools for geocaching and waymarking that ultimately led to the discovery of mobile apps (TagWhat, SCVNGR) that use augmented reality (AR) and can be adapted for educational purposes.
  • As a faculty member, suppose you could send your students into the field armed with a cell phone and enable them to explore important locations or objects while having instant access to supplemental information that you provide on each site visited?
  • Suppose there was a green, paperless approach to providing that information? Since 2008 I’ve followed the Horizon Report as it forecast the instructional impact of new technologies from mobile computing to geo-everything to simple augmented reality. The Horizon Report produced by the New Media Consortium and EduCause is published “…to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning , or creative expression within learning-focused organizations” like JCCC.
  • This year, the Report suggested that, “One of the most prevalent uses of augmented reality is to annotate existing spaces with an overlay of information.” Can you image instructional activities that could utilize a cell phone’s ability to determine the user’s current location with the ability to overlay information on that location?
  • In 2009, the Horizon Report forecast that within 2-3 years “The camera and screen embedded in smart phones and other mobile devices [could] serve as the means to combine real world data with virtual data; using GPS capability, image recognition, and a compass, AR applications can pinpoint where the mobile…is pointing and overlay relevant information….”
  • The 2012 Horizon Report only mentions Augmented Reality once but focuses on the mobile computing and tablets for near-term adoption and game based learning for mid-term (2-3 years out) adoption. Those are all necessary components or possible implementations of augmented reality. The single mention of AR comes in connection with a University of Virginia mobile computing app that was developed through WillowTree apps. In addition to the week in photos, sports scoreboards, a directory of students, information on admissions, the health system and courses; the app includes a campus map using Augmented reality that allows users to “Search for buildings on Grounds, use GPS to pinpoint your location, or use Augmented Reality to identify that building over there with the dome and the columns.” The maps can also be personalized by the student.
  • Now it’s 2012 and the earlier Horizon Reports were right on target. Early last year I began researching Augmented Reality browses running on mobile devices (including smartphones to tablets) that would enable the typical faculty member to create points of interest or to tag specific locations with supplemental information.
  • I must confess that my earlier exploration was sidetracked by exploring geo-caching followed by Waymarking before I stumbled on AR Browsers and specifically TagWhat. My search was really for a way for faculty to use AR for out-of-classroom experiences and projects with minimal cost and complexity. TagWhat, an app available through the Apple App Store and the Android Market, is free which is a key requirement for student adoption. By the way, just for clarity “Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online.” Check out for more details. The weakness I saw in the system was that each geocache includes SWAG or “Stuff we all get” that is trade items left in caches be geocachers. So there’s no way to be sure that what you want your students to acquire in the geocache will be there when they arrive. [click] Waymarking was a closer match in that it “is a way to mark unique locations on the planet and give them a voice….Waymarking is the toolset for categorizing and adding unique information for a location.” The “goal is to give people the tools to help others share and discover unique and interesting locations on the planet.” More information is available at While Waymarking could be used in concept for a location-based educational search, it is limited in the tools available for use and relies more heavily on GPS coordinates.[click] So I ended up researching AR browsers and specifically TagWhat.
  • TagWhat encourages tag creators to “Tell Your Story.” You can create points of interest or tags. They prefer that tags be more than photos with captions. Each tag should include a narrative…that is, it tells a story. Notice their tagline: they claim to be “The mobile encyclopedia of where you are.” [Click] and you can establish an account and add your own tags for free.
  • As a demo project, I began using TagWhat to create a JCCC campus tour. I used an established TagWhat channel because there’s no cost to add tags to an existing channel. They have channels for Art, Books, Education (formerly called Class), Events, Food, Heritage, Movies, Music, Nature, Science & Tech, Sports, and a recent addition Wikipedia. The Wikipedia channel includes tags for locations mentioned in Wikipedia entries.
  • Private channels are also available, at a cost, but I was more interested in "free" access; so I created several tags for the JCCC campus on the free Heritage channel. Here you see my TagWhat account with three of several published tags, [click]. When you create a tag, prior to submitting it for review the status will be “Draft.” Once you submit it for approval by TagWhat, but receiving approval, the tag is shown as “in review.” You’re notified when the tag is published.
  • To use TagWhat your students must install it on their mobile device. [Click] after starting the app, it determines your location and then displays thumbnails of all published tags within range. From my home, the closest tag is 2.68 miles away.
  • As you scroll down, you'll see tags that are further away. The furthest tag from my home is for the Sedalia Visitor’s Bureau, 93.31 miles away.
  • Let’s return to the closer tags and examine one in more depth. On the JCCC campus or from several miles away, you'd see the building tags I created with related photos and links; one each for the Carlsen Center, the Billington Library, the Student Center, the Gymnasium, and the Red Barn. At the bottom of the screen you can see the TagWhat controls for selecting nearby tags, selecting channels, viewing Featured tags and Settings. [Click] Let’s look specifically at the tag for the Red Barn.
  • Once you see a tag for a site that interests you, simply touch it and TagWhat displays more data. The additional information includes text (you can swipe up or down to read more), a photo, the channel name, a directional indicator pointing to the building’s location and sometimes links to an email contact or to a related website. If there are additional pages of information, you’ll see a large arrowhead to the right of the photo and you can swipe right to left to see the additional pages.
  • Here’s the Barn and Windmill page from the tag.
  • Here’s a page about the former Equine Studies Program at JCCC.
  • The next page talks about the Hex design on the barn painted by Linda Carlsen, wife of the former JCCC president.
  • The next page of information includes a video; see the play button on the clip.
  • The final page includes a Share button.
  • It can be used to send a postcard to an individual. This could be used as a method for the instructor to verify that the student has at least visited the tag site or read the information online.
  • The Postcard includes a photo rom the site, a map, the text for the first page and a place where the sender (student) can add a personal message.
  • To publish one or more tags, you first establish a free account at and then [Click] complete an online form for each tag. The form prompts you for a title, up to 96 characters, a description, up to 1024 characters, an attribution, select a channel, add a main image (JPG or PNG with a minimum resolution of 320x320 pixels) and add keywords.
  • You can also add up to six additional media items per tag which can include images, audio, or video. You must assign each media element a title, description, with an optional attribution.
  • Each tag can also include an action item or link to a website, to call a phone number, or send a message by SMS or email.
  • For each tag, you must also establish the tag location using a Google Maps window.
  • You can overlay satellite photography and zoom in to pinpoint an exact location for the tag without having to know its geo-coordinates or having to actually visit the location.
  • When finished, you submit each tag for publication and approval before it’s posted. It’s not unusual for the TagWhat staff to offer suggestions to improve your story, or media that would enhance the narrative or to suggest spelling and grammatical corrections.
  • TagWhat can be a free, easy tool for faculty to annotate historic sites, provide campus tours, create “local games” set in real life neighborhoods and ecological habitats, provide supplemental information on architectural structures, historic sites, art objects or even geological formations. Anything that is stationary can be tagged.
  • Can You Be More Specific?
  • Yes, Let’s Be More Specific:Architecture: Buildings, FirmsCampus Orientation: Buildings, OfficesChildhood Education: Exhibits, Libraries, Field TripsFashion Design: Exhibits, Historic Buildings, VendorsFine Arts: Concert of Lecture Venues, Art Objects, GalleriesGeology: natural FormationsGraphic Design: Graffiti, Billboards, PostersHistory: KC Historic Buildings, Civil War sites, MonumentsHospitality Management: Restaurants, Menus, SuppliersLiterature: Sites Related to Authors, Fiction, Non-FictionPolitical Science: Political Events, Polling Places, Campaign Stops
  • There Are Other AR Browsers Too!Layar see www.layar.comSCVNGR see www.scvngr.comWikitude see
  • Questions? By the way, without TagWhat browser on mobile device, you can still see the JCCC tags at: "Carlsen Center, JCCC Campus""Student Center, JCCC Campus""Billington Library, JCCC Campus""Gymnasium, JCCC Campus""The Red Barn, JCCC Campus"
  • In Search of Educational Applications Using Augmented Reality

    1. 1. In Search of Educational Applications Using Augmented Reality (AR) Jonathan Bacon, Retired Director, Educational Technology Center Johnson County Community College
    2. 2. Suppose?
    3. 3. Horizon Report 2008“…to identify anddescribe emergingtechnologies likelyto have a largeimpact onteaching, learning, or creativeexpression withinlearning-focusedorganizations.”
    4. 4. Horizon Report 2011“One of the mostprevalent uses ofaugmented realityis to annotateexisting spaceswith an overlay ofinformation.”
    5. 5. Horizon Report 2009“The camera andscreen embeddedin smart phonesand other mobiledevices [could]serve as the meansto combine realworld data withvirtual data…”
    6. 6. Time-to-AdoptionHorizon: One Year orLess• Mobile Computing• Tablet ComputingTime-to-AdoptionHorizon: Two toThree Years• Game Based Learning
    7. 7. 2012
    8. 8. Geocaching: real-world outdoor treasure Augmented Reality hunting game…to Browsers locate hidden containers. Waymarking: give people the tools to help others share and discover unique, interesting locations on the planet.
    9. 9. To create your own tags
    10. 10. Status will be Draft, InReview, orPublished
    11. 11. The Red Barn, JCCCCampus Tag
    12. 12. Channel Swipe for More Information
    13. 13. Play Button for Video
    14. 14. Form-based Tag creation
    15. 15. Use zip code or type entire address…
    16. 16. Can You Be More Specific?
    17. 17. Yes, Let’s Be More Specific!• Architecture: Buildings, Firms • Hospitality Management:• Campus Orientation: Buildings, Restaurants, Menus, Suppliers Offices • Literature: Sites Related to• Childhood Education: Exhibits, Authors, Fiction, Non-Fiction Libraries, Field Trips • Political Science: Political• Fashion Design: Exhibits, Events, Polling Historic Buildings, Vendors Places, Campaign Stops• Fine Arts: Concert of Lecture Venues, Art Objects, Galleries• Geology: natural Formations• Graphic Design: Graffiti, Billboards, Posters• History: KC Historic Buildings, Civil War sites, Monuments
    18. 18. There AreOther ARBrowsersToo!• Layar• SCVNGR• Wikitude
    19. 19. Questions?