Connecting dots of digital learning

How to Design Mobile Game-Based Learning (#GBL, #mlearning) – Part III

Google’s popular Android-centric augmented reality(AR) game, Ingress, has finally entered open beta. Starting Nov. 4, all Android users can download the massively-multiplayer game from Google Play for free.(read more)

A working definition of AR is to include the fusion of any digital information within real world settings, i.e. being able to augment one’s immediate surroundings with electronic data or information, in a variety of media formats that include not only visual/graphic media but also text, audio, video and haptic overlays. Weaving the content with the environment to construct a story plot could create a game experience.

Application Cases of AR

Some examples of AR applications demonstrate its potential.

Making print alive and interactive

New HorizonSome Japanese students and adults learning and reviewing English lessons enjoy the first generation of augmented reality textbooks, courtesy of publisher Tokyo Shoseki, for the New Horizon class. As a smartphone app, it takes advantage of built-in cameras to present animated character conversations when aligned with certain sections of pages.

Doing experiments in virtual 3-D world

PhysicsPlaygroundOne of the many, many engines behind PC games received a second life as an engaging strategy for illustrating the intricate ins and outs of physics, in a project known as PhysicsPlayground. It offers up an immersive, three-dimensional environment for experimenting, offering up a safer, more diverse space to better understand how the universe drives itself.

Observing the invisible objects

Sky Map and Star WalkAvailable on Android and iWhatever devices, these deceptively simple applications pack a megaton punch of education via an innovative augmented reality approach. Both involve pointing the gadget to the sky and seeing the names of the currently visible stars, planets, and constellations pop up, along with additional astronomical information.

Augmenting the field trip experience

Augmenting the field experience: The main study site is around Keswick in the English Lake District, Cumbria, UK, an attractive upland environment popular with tourists and walkers. The aim of the exercise for the students was to assess the effectiveness of various forms of geographic information in augmenting real landscape scenes, as mediated through a range of techniques and technologies.

Pedagogical models

According to research literature review by George Mason University, augmented reality is effective for learning procedural tasks in manufacturing and medicine(assembly, maintenance and surgery) as well as for providing digital information for simulations and investigations. The affordances provided by AR are well suited to pedagogical models such as cognitive apprenticeships, situated learning, and problem-based learning. More suggestions from literatures can be found here.

Mobile Game-Based Learning Examples

Many AR use cases are only delivering information to users. A focus on learning through interaction with ‘reality’ directs us to situated learning and exploratory learning. That interaction is the foundamental element of mobile game-based learning.

  1. Reliving the RevolutionKaren Schrier harnessed GPS and Pocket PCs to bring the Battle of Lexington to her students through the Reliving the Revolution game, an AR experiment exploring some of the mysteries still shrouding the event — like who shot first! Players assume different historical roles and walk through everything on a real-life map of the Massachusetts city.
  2. MITAR GamesDeveloped by MIT’s Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade, MITAR Games blend real-life locations with virtual individuals and scenarios for an educational experience that research proves entirely valid. Environmental Detectives, its first offering, sends users off on a mystery to discover the source of a devastating toxic spill.
  3. QR Code scavenger huntsSmartphones equipped with a QR code reader make for optimal tools when sending students on scavenger hunts across the classroom or school. The Daring Librarian, Gwyneth Anne Bronwynn, sends kids on an augmented reality, animated voyage through the library to figure out where to find everything and whom to ask for assistance.
  4. MentiraMentira takes place in Albuquerque and fuses fact and fiction, fantasy characters and real people, for the world’s first AR Spanish language learning game. It intentionally mimics the structure of a historical murder mystery novel and allows for far deeper, more effective engagement with native speakers than many classroom lessons.
  5. Imaginary WorldsWith PSPs in hand, Mansel Primary School students embarked on an artistic voyage, where downloaded images and QR codes merge and provide challenges to draw up personalized environments. The journey also pits them against monsters and requires a final write-up about how the immersive experience left an educational impact.
  6. Handheld Augmented Reality ProjectHarvard, MIT, and University of Wisconsin at Madison teamed up with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and nurtured science and math skills to junior high kids using GPS navigators and Dell Axims. Moving through the school meant moving through a synched virtual environment, with each area presenting new challenges they must tackle before pressing forward.
  7. Dow DayJim Mathews’ augmented reality documentary and smartphone app brought University of Madison-Wisconsin students, faculty, staff, and visitors to the year 1967. As they traveled campus, participants’ smartphones called up actual footage of Vietnam War protests corresponding with their current locations.
  8. Civil War Augmented Reality Project: Augmented reality museums guide students and self-learners of all ages through interactive digital media centered around a specific theme — maybe even challenge them to play games along the way. HistoriQuest, for example, started life as the Civil War Augmented Reality Project and presented a heady blend of mystery gaming and very real stories.

Tools for Creating AR

Here are some AR products that you may find useful to create your own AR games for classrooms: (with examples)

Let technologies serve learning design

The smartphone combines image recognition (for triggering AR), GPS data (for geo-positioning), compass information (for orientation), accelerometer (for vertical movement) or fiduciary markers (objects used as points of reference that appear in the image produced) to build the reality experience. This June, Apple revealed new feature “iBeacon” which can solve the problem of the inaccuracy of GPS inside buildings. Researchers are working on augmented reality for all senses, including hearing, touch and smell. Moreover, emerging wearable computing technology is promising to contribute more possibilities for mobile learning.

Technical features alone do not make an experience either engaging or pedagogical. We need to embed both effective gaming experiences and worthwhile learning design to make a mobile learning game valuable. We change learners’ perspectives, understanding and meaning-making of that reality through augmenting it with additional educational information. A learner enters into a situation narratively and perceptually, stories, game mechanics and elements are the driving force of  the learning “flow” — treasure hunting games, adventure games, detective games, or quests…. (stretch your imagination, remember the old movie “Terminator” ?) — AR is a means for realizing this picture. Although the experience is advanced, the core principles of making a good learning game remain the same.

Ah!!!! Terminator vision!

photo credit: michellevangerven via photopin cc

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