Friday, April 12, 2013

Augmented Reality: Bringing Learning to Life

The enormity of this whole Augmented Reality trend  hit me like a ton of bricks the other day when I made my first "Aura" using Aurasma Studio, a free cloud based program from the makers of the Aurasma app.  Prior to this experience, augmented reality was just a novelty feature that some smartphone apps like Yelp used.  While cool, I doubted their genie usefulness. 

As a child the promise of "Virtual Reality" was always just around the corner, but nothing of substance ever materialize; that is unless you count the Virtual Boy that almost succeeded in blinding a generation.  This is feels totally different and has the potential to "change everything."

I first saw the Aurasma app in 2011 when it went by the name Aurasma Lite.  While it looked cool, I had already seen apps like Yelp and had an augmented reality UFO shooter game on my iPhone that made that experience forgettable.  Fast forward to 2013.  Google Glass is all over the news and I have been doing a lot more work with iPads in the classroom.   That combination drew my attention to the concept of  Augmented Reality  in the Classroom.  A Google search for that term finds Aurasma Studio only a few clicks away.

Wow is all you can say when you see a really cool Aura (the augmented reality experience made possible by the Aurasma app).  With Aurasma studio a teacher or technology facilitator is able to create a truly unique experience for their students in a manner of minutes.

Here is an example of an Aura that I created for an up coming Earth Day activity.  I downloaded a short video clip from Youtube (using and then set to work with Aurasma Studio and in only a few minutes made this (while shown on a computer, the students will interact with it on paper).

Not bad for a first try.   The software is intuitive enough that I needed no formal instruction to know what was what in there. Future Auras should take no more than 5-10 minutes to create.  A small investment for the awesomeness that is produced.

It boggles my mind that this is not taking off like wildfire in the classroom.  To get  started, check out this video tutorial form the team at Aurasma and then apply for a free Aurasma Studio account.  The Aurasma app your students will need to access your Auras is also free and is available for both iOS and Android.

*One tiny bit of advice.  Do not forget to have your students follow your Aurasma Channel so they can view your Aura's.  They simply need to do a keyword search for your channel, then click the Follow button and they will be good to go.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

12 Free Super Tools for Teachers

Batman was a favorite childhood superhero because he was just a regular dude.  He had no super powers,  the only thing that separated him from everyone else was the desire to be awesome and some amazing toys.

Fast forward 30 years and the model still fits.  Teachers with a desire to go above and beyond have a much simpler path today, then they did even ten years ago.  Digital tools, like the ones spotlighted below, have a magnifying effect on a teachers ability.

Is this an end all be all list?  Nope.  Just tiny taste of some tired and true beauties. 

A few of these are spotlighted in detail in various various posts on this blog.  If you would like more information on any of them, feel free to ask.

photo credit: Brett Jordan via photopin cc


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