Aurasma: Adding Augmented Reality into Your Classroom

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This past summer, I took my children to the Museum of Natural History while we were visiting my parents in Cincinnati, Ohio. The museum was exhibiting a very cool interactive dinosaur exhibit. One of the museum’s docents invited me to download the museum’s app and have my children stand right behind one of several squares that were on the floor around the room. He then instructed me to hold my phone up to the square, and as I did, an image of a dinosaur appeared on my screen. It was awesome! My children and their cousins pretended to fight the  (and then pose with them), and because I was using my phone, I was able to take a screenshot to capture the fun. It reminded me of an Augmented Reality app I had seen a teacher use during the previous school year.

What is Aurasma?

Aurasma, the aforementioned Augmented Reality app, allows teachers and students to create a digital “overlay” (usually a video) that plays through the app when a person holds an enabled device over a “trigger image.” The overlay + the trigger image is called an “Aura.” The students in the class I observed were writing book reviews and the teacher wanted her class to try something new and different to present their learning using Aurasma. After writing the book review, the teacher had the students create an illustration of the book’s main setting to be used as the trigger image. Once that was finished, it was put aside and she had the students record each other giving their review of the book to be used as the video overlay.

How Do I Create an Aura?

When creating an Aura, you can upload the overlay (video) from the camera roll on your device, but you cannot access the photo album when creating the trigger image. That means the students can pre-record the overlay video, but when it comes time to determine a trigger image, the students must use the camera to take the photo of whatever will be the trigger image. Students in this classroom uploaded their videos to Aurasma when the app prompted them to, and when it came time to choose the trigger image, they took a photo of the setting they had drawn.  The teacher then hung the hand-drawn setting images around the classroom.

Parents came to the classroom for Open House later that month, and the teacher had her iPad out for the parents to use. Because she only had one iPad being used, she didn’t need to worry about making the Aura public. Making an Aura public is one way that others can view the Auras that students create. Another way is to send the Aura by email to the people you want to be able to see it.  In this case, it would be parents. If a teacher were to send the invitation email to parents, they could download the app and essentially “follow” the teacher’s Aurasma channel, and they would be able to see any Auras in the channel created by the class.

Common Core Connection

All across the country, school districts are shifting to the Common Core State Standards and 21st Century teaching and learning. Using Aurasma in the classroom is one way to help students master the standards. Because the standards are linear across grade levels, a digital tool that helps to develop standards in Kindergarten will also work for high school students. In the example given above, the students were working on CCSS  ELA-Literacy.RL. 5.2, determining the theme of a story from details in a text and summarizing the text.  The were also developing their strength in writing Opinion pieces, specifically ELA-Literacy.W5.1: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. In addition, as students were recorded for the overlay video, they were developing CCSS ELA-Literacy Speaking and Listening.5.4 by reporting on a text and presenting an opinion with logically sequenced ideas. There are, of course, numerous other Common Core standards that can be developed by using an app such as Aurasma in the classroom.

Students aren’t just developing the Common Core State Standards when they are using Aurasma, they are also working on developing their ability to communicate, collaborate, and be creative, which are three of the 7 Cs (yes, there are now seven according to Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel) that make up 21st Century Skills. Of course, the Cs go hand-in-hand with the Common Core.

There are so many other ways to use Aurasma in the classroom. As soon as I saw it for the first time, my mind started going crazy with all the awesome ways teachers could use it with students. Aurasma can be used in any subject, by any grade level, and really for any purpose.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Aurasma in your classroom?

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