Pokemon Go has taken over the world, it seems. Around all the hysteria, I had a flashback to summer 2011, a hot day in Radford, Virginia, with about 20 others who had gathered to learn about this new thing called Augmented Reality. Matt Dunleavy and his graduate students introduced us to FreshAIR, their AR development software and app.
The morning session involved an overview. Then, they handed us an iPod and sent us out to the campus to play the secret agent game. The app alerted us to hot spots, and we were led through a scenario where we watched a video, communicated with another agent and ultimately either solved the mystery, or ended up at a dead end because we followed the wrong information. It was pretty darn amazing!
During the afternoon, we worked with the actual software to develop AR games. It was an early version of the software, but essentially, we set GPS points that linked to video, audio, or text. Despite the heat, we were able to head outside and test our games. Again, pretty amazing!
So, forgive me if I’m a little underwhelmed by Pokemon Go. Really? Five years of AR and this is how we use this amazing technology? Chasing and catching Pokemons? Clearly, people like me have not done a good job getting the word out about the wonders of AR and the opportunity to create our own games rather than mindlessly following someone else’s creation.
This article gives some ideas for how AR can be used to support authentic student learning. Dunleavy may have been psychic in his comment about the perils of focusing too much on the digital world:
“If we have students staring at their phones the whole time, then I think we’ve missed the point,” he said. “We don’t want to cognitively pull people out of their environment. We want to use text, audio, and video to drive them deeper into it.”
The article highlights Harvard’s ecoMOBILE research and also includes examples of some student-created AR games. They admit it’s not easy: teachers and students aren’t often permitted to leave the classroom and location-based AR requires the ability to move around in the world.
If Pokemon Go is what we need to get the word out, that’s fine: but let’s realize that there has already been work in this area by educators and figure out how this becomes part of authentic, engaging learning.