Virtual mainstreaming: Exploiting Augmented Reality to Enhance the Student Experience -- 144 -- Short (oral) Paper
Combining the real and virtual worlds, Augmented Reality (AR) is changing from “gimmick to a bonafide game-changer” (Horizon Report, 2011). The initial scope of this project explores how mobile devices are helping to make AR an achievable option in learning, teaching and student services. Features such as image recognition and location-based services can enrich the student experience, allowing students to connect with a whole host of resources in a context-specific manner, supporting experiential learning, and offering a new dimension to traditional methods. The portability of these devices supports the opportunity to take teaching out of the classroom and away from a fixed position, whilst exploiting the fun and excitement that AR brings to an experience.
In order to engage academics with the use of AR in teaching and learning, existing multimedia resources developed both internally and available freely externally were used to demonstrate the potential. These examples were then demonstrated to students and staff at a University-wide learning and teaching showcase (which academics and support staff from different schools, students union, careers, library attended), in an attempt to help explain AR. Attendees were asked to consider how these concepts could be applied within their own discipline. Following this feedback and through close liaison, pilot projects were established to identify how AR could be used as more than just a ‘gimmick’, to enrich the student experience.
Projects were identified to demonstrate and establish suitable uses of AR. Although AR is not limited to mobile devices, this technology was selected to deliver these projects because of their portability and increased use amongst students. AR browsers (which enable access to AR resources) were explored to understand their limitations and the amount of development time required to build resources for them. The first of these examples highlights its use in a classroom/lab session, the second exploring how this technology can be used outside of the classroom.
The process involved in creating AR resources for mobile devices will be described, alongside the chosen browsers and reasons for selection. Despite the increased use of mobile devices not all students have access to this technology, issues and potential solutions concerning accessibility and the aforementioned are explored.
AR enables multimedia and other information or learning resources that institutions already have available to be repurposed. Whilst there are a variety of mobile AR browsers, they all differ in terms of functionality. Before this technology can truly become mainstream, there is a need to innovate and identify its use. Consideration is given to other technologies that can be used to deliver AR activities.