Innovative learning shared at Nashville conference

Music City learns a thing or two about Vermont ed tech

Innovative learning shared at Nashville conferenceHalf of the Tarrant Institute staff and a special guest headed to Nashville last week to present at the Association for Middle Level Education Annual Conference. We set out to share with middle grades educators from around the world the incredible, tech-rich teaching happening in Vermont schools. As we always conclude after visiting national conferences, Vermont really is on the cutting edge. Here’s a roundup of our presentations about learning management systems, authentic assessment and augmented reality.

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Molecules in Augmented Reality

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonOne of the challenges in science is to help students make connections from concepts to their real world. This can be a particular challenge in the field of chemistry. We talk about atoms, molecules, chemical reactions… but how does that connect with the things we see every day?

Augmented reality is one way to make connections from the abstract to the real world. We’ve seen Aurasma in use in the science classroom before. This free app allows students to create content that becomes an overlay on the actual item. The “aura” is triggered through image recognition. Students can overlay videos, web content, or images on their trigger images. Allowing video and web content means that Aurasma is a great candidate for “app smashing.”

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How to make a QR code out of M&Ms

A while back, I was researching how to print a QR code on a cake, as you do, and stumbled across this mysterious video of a QR code made of M&Ms:

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First look: Google Glass in education

I can’t recommend highly enough Mrs Pepe’s Google Glass Adventures. Courtney Pepe teaches high school in New Jersey, and has spent the last month plus trying out Google Glass in the classroom with her students. Her blogposts. Are. Fascinating. Like this demo of using the translate function with Glass:

Other fun entries include how Glass can integrate with other devices and apps (like Evernote!), using Glass to scan for augmented reality content with Layar, and using Glass’ compass function to set up an impromptu outdoor geometry lesson.

But, as the first installment of a new feature I like to call How Hard Is It, Really? I decided to try duplicating one of Mrs Pepe’s adventures. Specifically, the Glass and Literacy adventure. Mrs Pepe writes:

When I was working with a language arts teacher today I had a brainstorm. Google Glass can become part of a new literacy strategy to introduce a new book. The class that I was working with was reading the book The Barcode Tattoo. When I said “okay glass… Google Barcode Tattoo. I got 4 great bits of micro-information about the book 1- date of publication 2-author 3- themes and big ideas 4- sequels/prequels – wow I thought this would be a great strategy to build anticipation and excitement right before students begin reading a new novel.

Aha! So I gave it a shot. I captured the video below using Google’s Glass app for iOS along with Reflector and Camtasia. What you’re seeing is the actual footage that is displayed in your field of vision via Glass.

Initial thoughts on Glass? It’s harder to control than I thought it would be. It’s harder to everything than I thought it would be. Your brain processes the world in a certain way, based on visual input, and it’s a little startling to find new input that follows you around and does certain things (like take photos and share them to Google+) based on the way you move your head. But it gets easier after the first few minutes. The swiping back and forth can get you into trouble (I swiped myself right off of wifi twice) but once you get Glass’ attention (with a firmly voiced “Okay glass:”) it pings cheerfully to let you know it’s awaiting further instructions.

So, kinda.

First look: Google Glass for education

I reached up to rub my eye and accidentally snapped this photo of my living room. Yes, there are dogs on every surface.

 

Even though couldn’t find the full range of options Mrs. Pepe describes in the example above, just being able to go out to a website with more information about a book would make browsing in a library or bookstore an entirely different experience. Having instant access to additional information about objects in the world around you is undeniably cool, and as a serious history nerd, if I can hook it up to cool history facts as I’m wandering around Danby, Vermont, wondering about the genesis of their soldier-on-a-plinth monument, I’m basically never taking these things off.

In and of itself, Glass has a ton of potential for educators; check out these 30 ways Google Glass Can Innovate the Classroom:

4 ways to use Google Glass in the classroom

But how will these devices change the classroom as we know it? How will it change interpersonal relations and how we react to the world around us?

Here are some other resources for Google Glass info:

How would you use Google Glass in your classroom?

iPad how-to: saving auras to your Evernote portfolio

saving augmented reality "auras" to your Evernote portfolioA 1-minute iPad how-to from Harwood Union Middle School science educator Brian Wagner, showing you how to save augmented reality “auras” from the popular mobile app Aurasma, to Evernote.

 


Wagner used Aurasma with his students this past spring in creating an augmented reality periodic table, mounted in the community gallery space at their school.

 

“Curativity”

Please join me in welcoming the incomparable Susan Hennessey back to the blogosphere, with her new blog Curativity. Her first post looks at Aurasma and other augmented reality apps in the classroom:

Susan Hennessey is a professional development coordinator with the Tarrant Institute, and is in the EdD program at UVM.

Seeing these examples of AR in the classroom, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by how these students are experiencing worlds within worlds, the subtexts lurking in the most ordinary places. Even better, they can be the authors of these multiple layers of meaning.  And, frankly its novelty factor simply can’t be beat.

Previously, we’ve been looking at how to view Aurasma auras, how to create your own auras, and how one of our partner educators at Harwood Union Middle School used them with his chemistry class.

How to: create your own Aurasma auras

In a nutshell, Aurasma’s augmented reality images are called auras. You make them with Aurasma Studio, which runs in your web browser. An aura consists of two parts:

  • A trigger image, aka the image viewers will point their device at to trigger the content;
  • and an overlay, or the hidden content that will be triggered. In Aurasma studio, you lay the content over the image to make an aura.

This is an aura based off the cover of This Dark Endeavor, a prequel to Frankenstein. Point your iOS or Android device at the image below:

thisdarkcover

Here’s a brief screencast of how to create a simple aura with a video overlay.

But what can you do with them in a classroom?

Meet Aurasma: an augmented reality app for the classroom

GAP3

Augmented reality apps allow users to experience a layer of additional information — usually visual or auditory — meshed with everyday objects and surroundings. Here’s a look at one of our favorites.

Aurasma is a free, powerful augmented reality app for iOS and Android devices. It allows you to embed media items — videos, links, animation, other images — in static images.

(Remember that bit in Harry Potter when they’re walking through the gallery hallway at Hogwarts, and the paintings come alive? It’s a lot like that. 🙂

There are two parts to Aurasma: viewing the augmented reality content, called “auras”, and creating auras on your own. Additionally, we’ll look at how Aurasma is currently being used in schools, including one of our partner middle schools, here in Vermont.

Here’s how to view auras:

1. Download Aurasma onto your mobile device, either through the app store (iOS) or through Google play.

2. Open up the app and create an account.

3. Auras are arranged into channels, and you have to subscribe to a channel in order to view them. So for instance, to get to the Tarrant Institute channel, tap the gray “A” symbol at the bottom of your screen, then the magnifying glass, and search on “Tarrant”.

Meet Aurasma: an augmented reality app for the classroom

Tap the gray A…

Meet Aurasma: an augmented reality app for the classroom

Then the magnifying glass. Search for “tarrant”.

Tap “Follow” to follow our channel and access our Aurasma content. Channels can be public or private, and are useful for grouping content by organization — like a class or school.

Meet Aurasma: an augmented reality app for the classroom

4. Check out some of our auras, like this one, an image of the front cover of Kenneth Oppel’s YA Frankenstein prequel, This Dark Endeavor. Point your iOS or Android device at the image below:

Meet Aurasma: an augmented reality app for the classroom

Next, we’ll show you how to create your own auras in Aurasma, and talk about how Aurasma’s being used by a science teacher at Harwood Union Middle School, one of our partner schools.

Having an augmented reality kind of morning

"Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill." --Charles Dickens, Bleak House

“Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.” –Charles Dickens, Bleak House

Okay, so I’m a few months early but oy, this weather, #btv.

Brought to you by AR DinoPark, a free augmented reality app that lets you plunk one solitary triceratops into your real-world location. Such as the Tarrant Institute office.

Unfortunately, that’s all it seems to do. Your triceratops makes a little squeak and does a little dance, then you can read a paragraph of info about him. But there’s no way to create your own content or interact with said triceratops, and you have to pay for additional dinosaurs. But it’s a cool party trick.

Brian Wagner on Aurasma, continued

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The annual Rube Goldberg Challenge is an opportunity for students to engage in their inner creative, design-build personalities. They are tasked with completing a simple task through a complex, convoluted, over the top device that incorporates simple machine physics and creative problem solving. There are limits to their space, time, and materials (nothing banned form school for instance). The machines that are created range from functionally simplistic to extremely clever but all offer students a chance to personalize the experience. The one part of the project that has not been emphasized over the past several years is charging students with explaining their thought process as they develop, test, and redesign their design. The use of several different iPad apps were explored during this project to see how students could benefit from documenting their thinking as they went through a problem solving process.

Half of the student groups used the Explain Everything app to document via video, text, photos their thought process, while the other half used the Aurasma app to do the same. There were some challenges with the Aurasma app because our internet connectivity was poor in the Middle Gym so reaching Aurasma was difficult and the video cannot be edited prior to attaching to an Aura (trigger). The Explain Everything app appears to be better suited for this type of activity; where students could collect their thoughts on different slides or even have multiple videos on one slide.

Students were asked to reflect on the use of their app when the project was complete. Their feedback brings me back to the SAMR model and how it relates to my research question of using technology to enhance meta-cognition In this project, the Aurasma app did not fit the bill very well for allowing students to document their thinking over time. The app and the activity were not well suited; the video cannot be paused and continued, so students were unable to document their thinking over time. The Explain Everything app had both positive and negative reviews from students but with some additional practice with the app, students will be more comfortable with the potential to revisit their prior thoughts and construct new thinking. Ideally, students would have an opportunity to document their process and then be given another similar activity to complete using what they have collected on the Explain Everything app as a guide.

 

Brian Wagner teaches 8th grade science at Harwood Union Middle School in Moretown VT. You can reach him on twitter: @swagsci