Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quick guide to using iPads for learning

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Discovery learning with augmented reality

Teachers aim to provide students with the tools to understand the real world.

Augmented reality (AR) is a tool educators should consider using as it provides discovery and experiential experiences creating more opportunities for students to make deeper connections  and understandings.  Additionally the 2010 and 2011 Horizon Reports, predict that the use of augmented reality in education will be widespread within two to three years.

Augmented reality provides students with the opportunity to create or utilise connections between real objects or places with virtual contextual information. Erick Schonfeld at in his TechCrunch article 'Augmented reality v Virtual Reality which one is more real', explains it very well:
"If virtual reality is a complete immersion in a digital world, augmented reality (AR) is more a digital overlay onto the real world. It enhances the real world with digital data, and therefore it is much more interesting than a completely fabricated environment. There is an element of magic to AR apps because they juxtapose data and graphics where they have no business showing up."

Last term we ran a workshop around Augmented reality.  We started with QR codes, which are a form of augmented reality as they trigger links from the real to the virtual, adding meaningful contextual digital information.  Participants took part in an information quest using QR codes that provided clues which they had to use to search for particular items online and physically.  They then created their own QR codes to resources using the Kaywa QR code generator.  All the resources for QR codes can be found at Get started with QR codes and learning.

Next we discussed the use of augmented reality ideas to extend learning such as those of Helen Papiigiannis where she uses AR with a book "Who's Afraid of Bugs" creating this magical experience where spiders and other insects come alive in the book via augmented technology.  We also took a look at a contemporary marketing use of AR by Volkswagon.

Participants experimented with using Augmented Reality Apps that have already constructed augmented contexts such as String and a maths focused App called Fetch! Lunch Rush.  Fetch Lunch Rush is a good introduction to primary students on using Augmented reality.  Using preprinted pieces (link supplied in App) you scan the pieces to see the augmented information. which connect with a maths equation they have been asked to solve.

Finally participants created their own augmented reality with picture books as the trigger using the Aurasma App. They were able to add a digital layer of information to the picture books and share this with the other participants.  Aurasma even allows users to setup their own AR channels that students could subscribe to.

More information on Augmented reality:
 7 things you should know about augmented reality
'Augmented reality in education' slideshare by Karen Hamilton and Jorge Olenewa.
Augmented reality in education and training.

Whats next in Augmented reality:
Publishers are already creating texts to harness AR technology in textbooks.  Japanese publishing company Tokyo Shoseki is producing textbooks that support AR apps on smartphones, bringing characters to life for students to listen to.
Future development of Augmented reality could be the Articulated Naturality Web.
Some ideas from educators on how to use Augmented reality in education from Augmented Reality tools: play videos on your worksheet.
Some other AR apps to explore can be found at 6 Smart Augmented Reality Apps.

St Agnes’ Technology Group

A Thursday afternoon during period 5 is a time that many students are either at PDSSSC or in their Enrichment Learning Program class, however if you see Mr McGuire in the library at this time, you will notice with him a group of students known as the 'technology group.' During this class, students are actively engaging and learning about technology with the use of an iPad.

For many an iPad is a tool for entertainment, which it most definitely is, however it is also a big tool for education. Putting the words 'entertainment' and 'education' together can give you the conclusion of finding entertaining ways to be able to learn any content related to a certain subject. With schools around the country consistently using technology to enhance learning, such as our very own St Agnes, when the iPad was first released it automatically left educators of thinking of ways how we could use this device to support learning. It was not long before apps were made to target certain subjects and years. Teachers were amazed at the possible ways in which they could now teach classes with the use of iPads. Although through this amazing invention, many still question the use of pen and paper as a way of learning. The use of an iPad in school is not to overtake this method, but yet to use it to help students understand content visually in a way that a textbook wouldn't be able to. With an iPad, it caters to different students and the way they learn, whether that be visually, by audio, or any other method.

The technology group at St Agnes have explored a numerous amount of apps that will be useful in an everyday class lesson such as iCloud, keynote, iMovie and GarageBand. Within a term, these students have gained confidence in knowing that they can use these apps and be able to go into the classroom and share the knowledge to fellow peers and teachers. The technology group at our school rotates on a term basis, giving other students the opportunity to be part of this enriching experience.

The great thing we have found with our current technology group is that they themselves are enjoying the apps and would willingly use it in the future; as they find it a useful tool that they believe would benefit their learning. The main reason of our technology group existing is the exciting news that the iPads will soon be rolled out at St Agnes for all year 8 students to use. The technology groups that we are training will then be able to go into their classroom and easily pass on the information.

Our technology group at school is a great bonus for the students taking part as not only is it a great incentive with them learning about the different things an iPad is capable of when it comes to learning in the classroom, but also skills they can take away from the sessions that they will have for life.

Lois Uremovic
Technology Group Mentor
Year 10 Student at St Agnes