iPads in Education

Innovating education with technology.

3 Steps to Creating an Awesome Virtual Museum in Class

You're spending an afternoon browsing the exhibits at an art museum. If you're anything like me, you'd probably appreciate the art a lot more if you could bring someone along that could explain the history and nuances of the pieces on display. Now imagine pointing a device at the painting and seeing it morph into a dynamic video giving you all the information you wanted about the art. Welcome to augmented reality. 

Virtual reality replaces the real world with an artificial, digital environment. In contrast, augmented reality alters your view of the real world by layering it with associated digital information. Augmented reality uses your device's camera to view the immediate environment and display media when it sees an object it recognizes. It has been utilized as a marketing and informational tool by many industries. Using an augmented reality app, you can point your device at an advertisement in a magazine and get detailed product demonstrations. Aim it at a sign outside a house for sale and get an after hours virtual walk-through the property. There are also many ways augmented reality can be used in education.

The Virtual Museum

I've worked with teachers at several schools to created virtual museums - student created exhibits that use augmented reality to display student videos when a device is pointed at an exhibit. In one such project, students researched elements of their community's culture and created exhibits for a museum display. At the same time, they created videos detailing the relevance of each exhibit and the process that went into creating it. The museum was set up in a large hall and several hundred members of the school community attended. 

We used a popular augmented reality app called Aurasma. Visitors open the Aurasma app, point their device at a tagged object and watch it morph into a video as shown in one example below:

Visitors were sent an email asking them to download the free Aurasma app and bring their device. A small supply of iPads were available at the museum entrance and visitors could sign one out if needed. You can find more information about the background research project here.

We talk about the importance of "depth" in education. Augmented reality offers many ways for students to create media and delve deeper into their learning. Here are some simple ways that augmented reality can be used in education:

  • Create a live timeline that displays video documentaries when devices are pointed at images along the timeline.
  • Hear student book reviews when you point a device at printed images of book covers hanging on a wall in the library.
  • Students document their learning with video and have an image pinned to the door of the classroom. School visitors point a device at the door and get a virtual representation of what has been happening in the class. Alternatively, create a virtual wall near the entrance to the school. Each class has a plaque on the wall that triggers a frequently updated video they've created demonstrating the learning in their classroom.
  • Create a vocabulary wall in class. Students write and create short stories that are triggered by the image of a word on the wall.
  • Create a "wall of heroes". Print and hang images of famous people and have the students create short videographies of each person. It could be their own personal hero, famous explorers, presidents ... 
  • Create live student portfolios for open house. Students display their work on a wall and each piece triggers a video they've created that goes into additional depth about the process and learning that took place. Alternatively, you could display a photo of the student and that triggers a video of them displaying and explaining their portfolio of work.
  • Document processes that result in a learning product. One project we did at a school was to create plaster face masks that represented different aspects of Brazilian culture. Students took video of the mask so visitors could see the process that went into the creation of each mask.

I'm sure you'll come up with lots of ideas of your own. Using the Aurasma app, here's the steps to follow to create your own augmented reality project.

A. Create Your Content

  • Media: Create video. Make sure that it's designed to add depth and important detail to the image being viewed.
  • "Trigger" image: This is the image that causes the media to play when you point your device at it. Aurasma requires images with a certain amount of detail and color. Avoid text or simple line art images. I've often created a "plaque" that sits next to an exhibit and acts as the trigger image.
  • You'll link the trigger image and media by creating an "aura". We'll look at how to create auras below.

B. Create an Aurasma Account and Channel

If you are just using a single device then skip this step - you don't need to create an Aurasma channel. You're able to specify the media and trigger image right within Aurasma on the device itself. If however you want to create a series of auras and invite people to view them on any device then I recommend creating an Aurasma channel for your class as follows:

  • Create an account: You can create your Aurasma account right within the Aurasma app itself or by going to studio.aurasma.com in any desktop or mobile web browser. 
  • Create a channel: Log into your account at studio.aurasma.com and click on the Channels option in the menus on the right of the screen. You can set your channel to public or private. If it's public then anyone can subscribe to the channel and view your auras. The alternative is to create a private channel. Save the channel and you'll notice a "Link to Subscribe" button. Click the button, copy the link and share it via email. Anyone with the Aurasma app can click on the link and be given access to the content in your channel.

You can set your channel to Private and email the link to subscribe

C. Create Auras

As mentioned above, an aura is the link between a trigger image and video. You can create your auras in two ways:

  • On your device: Create the aura on your device. Tap the + sign in Aurasma and follow the prompts. The video and trigger image will need to be on the same device. If you've created a channel as specified in step B above then make sure to tap the option to add the aura to a channel. It will be uploaded to your account and channel online.
  • On the Aurasma website: Log into your account at studio.aurasma.com.
    • Click on Overlays in the large menu on the right and upload all your videos.
    • Click on Trigger Images in the large menu on the right and upload all the associated images.
    • Once that's done, click on Auras in the large menu on the right and create auras for each link between a trigger image and the video it will play.

Invite your guests via email. Tell them to download the Aurasma app and give them the link to subscribe to your channel ... then have the students act as "museum guides" that show your visitors how to use the app. 

Sam Gliksman

Twitter: @samgliksman
Website: www.EducationalMosaic.com

Author of iPads in Education for Dummies 
Contact Sam for workshops and professional development at samgliksman@gmail.com

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