Showing posts with label augmented reality apps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label augmented reality apps. Show all posts

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Spacecraft AR - Explore NASA Spacecraft With Augmented Reality

Spacecraft AR is a free iPad and Android app offered by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The app enables students to learn about various NASA spacecraft including the Curiosity rover, Voyager, Mars Exploration Rover, and a handful of other spacecraft. Spacecraft AR includes information about each spacecraft's development and use.

With Spacecraft AR installed and open on their iPads or phones, students can select a spacecraft or mission then point their iPads or phones at a flat floor or wall see the spacecraft appear. Once the spacecraft appears on screen students can move to see other angles of the spacecraft and move the spacecraft. Students can also pinch and zoom to change the size of spacecraft they're looking at.

Spacecraft AR reminds me of NASA's previous AR app, Spacecraft 3D. The key difference between the two is that Spacecraft 3D required students to scan a printed target in order to make spacecraft appear on screen. Spacecraft AR does not have that requirement, but it does require that you have a fairly recent iPad or Android device that has either Apple's ARKit or Google Play Services for AR (formerly known as ARCore).

Get the iPad app here and the Android version here.

Applications for Education
Spacecraft AR and Spacecraft 3D are fun apps for students to use to learn about the robotic spacecraft that NASA uses or has used to explore our solar system. I think that the app could be used by students of any age, but it probably best for kids of upper elementary school and middle school age.

Monday, April 20, 2020

World Wildlife Fund Livestreams, Apps, and Games for Students

For years the World Wildlife Fund has offered educational games and apps for students. Now they're also offering live educational broadcasts for students.

On the WWF's Wild Classroom page you will find a list of upcoming livestreams and he target audience for those livestreams. For example, tomorrow's livestream about bees is intended for students in second through sixth grade.

In addition to upcoming live broadcasts the WWF Wild Classroom page features daily lesson plans and activities. The activities were designed for use at school, but could easily be modified to be completed at home with the help of parents. Every lesson plan includes an activity outline, a video, and a related article. Archives of previous weeks'  lesson plans are available at the bottom of the WWF Wild Classroom page.

WWF Mobile Apps
One of my all-time favorite iPad apps was developed by the WWF. That app is the WWF Together App. It's not the most advanced app you'll find, but it is beautifully done. WWF Together now features the stories of threatened or endangered animals around the world. The stories include facts about the animals' ranges, threats to their habitats, and latest news about efforts to help preserve these animals and their habitats. Within each story there is an opportunity for students to take a selfie with an animal. This is done through the use of augmented reality that lets users place an origami rendering of an animal into any setting including a selfie. And for those who want a hands-on activity, WWF Together includes directions for making origami animals.

WWF Free Rivers is a free augmented reality app produced by the World Wildlife Foundation. The app uses augmented reality to present a story about rivers. WWF Free Rivers tells students stories about the implications of changes in weather patterns, damming rivers, and pollution on river ecosystems. Students interact with these stories by moving their iPads and or by pinching and zooming on elements in the stories. Unlike some other AR apps the animations within WWF Free Rivers can be experienced by students from a variety of angles. A great example of this is found early in the app when students can see what a dam does to a river. During that experience students can see the dam from above, from below, and from the sides.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

An Update to Five Directions for AR in Education

Lately, I have been spending quite a bit of time digging into research and academic writing about the development and evolution of many of the educational technologies that are common in schools today. Last week I read through Augmented Reality: An Overview and Five Directions for AR in Education authored by Steve Chi-Yin Yuen, Gallayanee Yaoyuneyong, and Erik Johnson and published in June of 2011 by the Journal of Educational Technology and Exchange. While I was reading I started to think about how far augmented reality has come in the last eight years. What follows is my commentary on those directions given the benefit of the last eight years of development of AR.

The Five Directions
The five directions that Yuen, Yaoyuneyong, and Johnson suggested in Augmented Reality: An Overview and Five Directions for AR in Education are AR books, AR gaming, discovery-based learning, objects modeling, and skills training.

AR Books
In reference to books the authors highlight the potential of AR books to engage many types of learners through many paths. A great example of this potential turned into reality is found today in augmented reality apps like Wonderscope and the World Wildlife Fund's Free Rivers app.

AR Gaming
In reporting about AR gaming in the context of education the authors of Augmented Reality: An Overview and Five Directions for AR in Education featured the study of an AR game called Alien Contact. Alien Contact was used in classrooms to promote engagement and learning in a lesson in which students had to determine why aliens would select an area of earth to land and settle upon. The study indicated that while some students did benefit from engagement others were overwhelmed by the technology. This was five years before the release of the massively popular Pokemon Go augmented reality game. Because of popular games like Pokemon Go students today are likely to be familiar with how to use AR games and so are less likely to be overwhelmed by the complexity of using an app to for an educational experience.

Discovery-based Learning
In Augmented Reality: An Overview and Five Directions for AR in Education the authors devote a section to the potential of augmented reality as a discovery-based learning tool. In doing so they point to using augmented reality applications on field trip experiences. The authors highlight using augmented reality to replace questions on paper with instant information available through the use of AR apps that provide students with instant information about the physical objects in front of them as well as the information about the places they are standing in. The authors highlight the Wikitude service for enabling that kind of instant information availability. Relying on Wikitude could be limiting because developers are inclined to create applications for the most popular places and artifacts. Through the use of a free service like Metaverse Studio teachers and students can develop augmented reality discovery experiences for lesser-known places. As an example, in 2017 I used Metaverse Studio to develop an augmented reality discovery experience for livestock pounds in my small town. You can read about the example and see Metaverse Studio in action here.

Objects Modeling
Yuen, Yaoyuneyong, and Johnson in Augmented Reality: An Overview and Five Directions for AR in Education listed objects modeling as their fourth direction for augmented reality in education. Their paper did not give as much attention to this direction as it did to the four other directions they highlighted. Still they did cite the example of researchers in the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand who developed an AR program that enabled users to convert two dimensional sketches into virtual three dimensional objects that can be manipulated to explore the interactions between the drawn objects. Again, Yuen, Yaoyuneyong, and Johnson were writing in 2011. Today, we find this technology readily available to teachers and students in the forms of Merge Cube and Quiver.

Skills Training
The fifth direction explained in Augmented Reality: An Overview and Five Directions for AR in Education was skills training. In this section the authors wrote, “Augmented reality has strong potential to provide powerful contextual, in situ learning experiences and serendipitous exploration while simultaneously promoting the discovery of the connected nature of information in the real world.” They go on to cite three studies including a study of using AR for training military mechanics. The study revealed that mechanics using AR were able to locate tasks more quickly than those in non-AR environments. In all of the studies the participants wore augmented reality-enabled glasses.

Eight years after Augmented Reality: An Overview and Five Directions for AR in Education the potential for AR as an aid in improving training and in completing tasks is still strong. In promotion of the enterprise version of Google Glass, Google showcases AGCO’s study that indicated a 25% reduction in production time for complex assemblies when laborers used Google Glass. Google isn’t the only company producing augmented reality-enabled glasses. You’ll also find offerings from companies including Vuzix, Daqri, and Magic Leap. As it has been for decades, cost continues to be the biggest obstacle to use of AR-enabled glasses in K-12 classrooms. School districts that struggle to put $200 Chromebooks into the hands of every student aren’t going to be spending $1,000+ for AR-enabled glasses any time soon.