Until the iPad comes with a camera, this post may not be appropriate on a blog exploring iPads in education, but it there are so many exciting possibilities that I just had to add it; if only for future new generation iPad users who will own the long promised iPads with cameras. Drum roll please, the holo deck has arrived!
At the recent Pennsylvania Educational Technology and Expo Conference, I attended a truly fabulous session by Jeff Mummert of Derry Township School District entitled “Augmented Reality: The Educational Possibilities”. Many of you reading this are far more tech savvy then I, and have already been playing around with augmented reality, so I ask your pardon if I digress. For those who may not have heard of AR, let me begin with a brief introduction.
Augmented reality can best be defined as the layering of digital information (images, data, links, etc.) on the real world. Fighter pilots experience augmented reality routinely. The clear shields on the flight deck project augmented reality data that help them pilot the plane and follow targets. If you watched the super bowl (or any TV football) you’ve experienced it. The first down line projected on your screen was done with augmented reality technology. In Europe, “football” (read soccer) fans see the ads running along the barriers using augmented reality. There are two ways to send the code that produces the images; either through the use of geographical “markers” that employ GPS type technology or by using a printed QR code attached to the location or object you wish to enhance.
Esquire magazine generated quite a bit of excitement by printing a QR code on their cover that allowed the reader to access special expanded features using 3-D images.
There are augmented reality mob flash events attended by Darth Vadar and Papa Smurf and augmented reality tours of historical places using markers. You can even view the original Berlin Wall using AR and your iPhone or Android. For a more whimsical example, check out the Wall Street Bull as viewed through the iPhone
(Photo credit CNN Money: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2010/technology/1011/gallery.augmented_reality.fortune/index.html
The most exciting thing however, is the implications for education. Mr. Mummert’s social studies classes have been developing augmented reality aps that allow an iPhone or Android user to view Derry Township as it was in the early 1800’s – including 3-D models of buildings that once existed with GPS on their former locations. The students have developed “history trunks” filled with objects from the township’s past that have been affixed with augmented reality codes so that images and web links pop up on demand. The trunks are linked to a children’s book the students have written about a young girl from the past. The children’s book also contains embedded augmented reality codes and directions to actual sites around town that when visited glow with an augmented reality image of objects in the story. Mr. Mummert’s students obtained old iPhones from school administrators who had upgraded, and the iPhones are packaged with the trunks which will tour the area elementary schools.
And think of the possibilities for Arts Education! The Pete and C presentation got me dreaming, then I heard about this exhibit that brings media arts to a whole new experiential level, and raises important questions of ownership of the very space around us. The MOMA in partnership with Apple, created an augmented reality Art exhibit which my next gen son tells me was then pirated by other media artists who used the codes to share their own “unauthorized” exhibit of works.