Category Archives: Augmented Reality

You Matter – With Aurasmatazz (The Sequel)

About 4 years ago, I had one of those crazy-ideas-that-sounds-good-because-you-haven’t-really-thought-through-all-of-the-obstacles.  In a nutshell, I invited the parents of my students (I teach a GT pull-out program, K-5) to send in videos of themselves telling their children how much they matter to them.  I used Aurasma Studio to create augmented reality experiences so that whenever the students scanned their parents’ pictures in their folders, they would see and hear the video of encouragement and love.

The project turned out to be much harder than I expected, but the results were good. The students were surprised and excited, and I learned a lot more about them and their families through the videos that I received.  However, by the end of the year the novelty was gone and I suspected most of the printed parent pictures needed to trigger the videos got thrown away with all of the other school supplies that were zealously surrendered in order to make room for summer fun.  In my mind, the “You Matter” Augmented Reality Project was something I was grateful I had done but would probably never choose to do again.

Flash forward to last school year.  One of my 5th grade students lost his mother in a tragic accident that stunned the whole community.  In the usual way that we try to comfort people who have suffered such a loss, I attended the rosary and told my student that I would be “there for you.”  I felt more useless than I ever have in my teaching career.

But then I remembered that this young man was in my class years ago when I did the “You Matter” project.  I went home and searched my Aurasma account for his mother’s video.  It had been one of my “obstacles” at one point because she was late with the video and then wasn’t sure how to send it to me.   But it eventually arrived.  And, years later, it was still stored in my account.

I downloaded the video to a USB drive.  A few weeks later, I called the student to my room, and explained to him what was in the envelope I was giving him.  I told him that he may not be ready to watch it now, but that it would be there for him when he needed to remember how much his mother loved him.  He took the envelope from me, smiled through his tears, and walked away.

He may never watch the video.  He may lose the USB drive or delay watching it until USB drives are obsolete (but that’s okay, because I have several different backups now!) . But instead of voicing hollow platitudes I was able to genuinely express how much he mattered to me by making a small effort to remind him how much he mattered to his mother.

A few lessons learned from this experience:

  • Never expect that people “just know” they matter.  What you say to them and how you treat them are equally important.
  • Educators (and parents) often don’t see the positive effects of our actions.  We should never regret the efforts we put into something that seemingly did not have the results we expected – as long as we know we were trying to do what is best for kids.
  • Time developing relationships is never wasted time.

As the beginning of the school year approaches for many of us, I urge you to do all that you can to let students know that they matter to you.  Not so test scores will improve or behavior issues will decrease.  But because:

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Merge Cube

The Merge Cube is the latest product to market augmented reality experiences for kids. It is being sold at Walmart for $14.97 – although it looks like it is already out of stock. Beore purchasing it, you should know that you will need a smartphone or tablet to download the apps for the cube.  Merge Goggles can also be used, but are not required as long as you have an app-enabled device.  If you have Google Cardboard, you can use it with the Merge Cube.  However, the Merge Goggles have a special cut-out specifically designed for use with the cube that helps to make the experience more immersive.

I have not used this product yet, so I can’t give you a full review (you can see one here by “Dad Does”).  It looks like it has educational as well as entertainment applications.  According to the website, there is a “Mr. Body” experience and “Galactic Explorer”.  The Merge Cube is being marketed as “the hologram you can hold in your hand.”  It reminds me of Daqri’s Elements 4D Cubes, but it is actually one cube designed for multiple apps – and developers are being invited to submit more.

Merge has several products out there, including its Merge Goggles.  You can visit the Merge Miniverse site to see games and YouTube 360 videos that are compatible.

I like the idea of the flexibility (since VR glasses require phones and all I have are tablets in my classroom), and will be curious to see what other educational uses come out of this relatively affordable product.  Like many ed-tech options, the novelty may attract your students, but it is up to educators to determine if it is a tool that will deepen learning.

For other Augmented Reality Resources for Education, check out this page.

mergecube.jpeg

CoSpaces

Joe Tedesco, the man behind SA Makerspaces for Education, posted about CoSpaces a couple of weeks ago.  CoSpaces is available on the web, and as a free iOS or Android app.  My students and are still investigating its features, so I may be incorrect about what we’ve discovered so far.

CoSpaces Example

Using CoSpaces on a computer (desktop or laptop), you can register for a free account and then create projects.  To experiment, I created one account that my students could also use (if you do this, make sure each student knows how to start a new project or collaborate with someone else on one).  There are tools on the web browser version to “build” 3-dimensional scenes, somewhat Minecraft-ish. For those of us who are spatially challenged, it’s good practice for using other 3-d modeling programs like Tinkercad.  You can also add your own images as well as audio files.

The scenes can be viewed on mobile devices as 3d by walking around with or moving the device to explore the scenery.  If you have a VR headset, you can also experience the scenes this way.  The video on this page is the best way to understand how it works.  At this time, you can only create CoSpaces projects using a web browser and experience they are best experienced through mobile devices.

An intriguing detail about CoSpaces is that it already has a link for educators in its menu – and describes the many ways it can be used in school (such as storytelling or exhibiting research projects).  According to the site, there are plans to offer classroom type accounts to teachers.

CoSpaces shows a great deal of potential for use by students to create – which is one of the main purposes for technology in my point of view.  I have a feeling there are going to be some exciting advances made by this company as it evolves, so you should definitely check it out.

https://cospac.es/Alkj

Halloween Treats That Won’t Give You Cavities

As if American politics aren’t scary enough, the United States celebrates Halloween next Monday, which is all kind of wrong – because spending a day with students who can’t wait to trick-or-treat plus 4 more days after they fill up on sugary candy should not be required of any teacher if you are at all interested in helping him or her maintain a semblance of sanity.

The president I would vote for would resolve to make Halloween on a Saturday for the rest of eternity, but so far I haven’t seen that mentioned in anyone’s campaign.

For those of you who are in the same boat (or should I say, riding the same broom?), here are some resources I’ve collected in the past that might help to briefly engage your students in something other than daydreaming about all of the candy they will need to confess to eating at their next dental appointment:

Check back tomorrow for another virtual pumpkin carving idea!

Click her to get to the free QuiverVision Augmented Reality Pumpkin download
Click here to get to the free QuiverVision Augmented Reality Pumpkin download

 

 

International Dot Day 2016

International Dot Day, 2016, falls on September 15-ish.  I never feel like the school year has truly begun until we celebrate Dot Day.

Here are some of my past posts about Dot Day:

I hunted on Pinterest to find some ideas I hadn’t seen before, and this is what I found:

There are plenty more creative people out there with Dot Day activities to share.  So, don’t forget to get out there and, “Make your Mark!”

image from Flickr
image from Flickr

What You Might Have Missed This Summer

Summer break is over – at least for many of the public school teachers in Texas who return to work today.  Of course, many of us never really stopped working over the last couple of months, fitting in workshops and lesson planning in between trips to the beach and afternoon naps.

I’ve been saving educational articles of interest to Pocket all summer, and I thought I would share some of the news that I curated that might have some impact on your planning for the new school year.  I would love for you to share any other summer education news that I’ve missed in the comments below!

What You Missed

  • Osmo put out two new games this summer, Coding (near the beginning of the summer) and most recently Monster (described as “The Creative Set”).  My summer camp students loved the Coding game, and I’ve just ordered Monster.
  • Speaking of tangible coding, Google has announced “Project Bloks,” which looks pretty intriguing.  The Bloks aren’t available to the public yet, but you can sign up on their interest page to get updates on the program.
  • In other Google news, the Expeditions VR app is now available on Android with expectations to release it on other platforms later this year.  Also, there is a free Cast for Education app that I am really interested in that supposedly allows students to project their work without the need for other hardware/software like Chromecast, Apple TV, or Reflector.  Richard Byrne has a blog post on a new add-on for Google Docs called The Lesson Plan Tool.  By the way, if you want to keep updated on new Google Classroom features, here is a good page to bookmark.
  • When it comes to lesson planning, Amazon Inspire might be your go-to site as soon as it becomes available, with free access to educational resources.  Sign up for early access now.
  • Think about allowing your students to show off what they’ve learned during those great lessons with Class Dojo’s new feature: Student Stories.
  • You may have somehow escaped the Pokemon Go craze, but your students probably haven’t.  Here are some ways to use it educationally.
  • Words with Friends now has an Edu version that is free and can be played on the web or on mobile devices.  I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it even has materials aligned to Common Core.
  • Breakout Edu has Back to School games.
  • Canva now has an iPhone app.
  • YouCubed released Week of Inspirational Math 2 last week.  This is a great way to start your students off with a growth mindset in math.

Do you have some education news that we might have missed this summer?  Be sure to add it in the comments below!

 

Blippar

I briefly mentioned Blippar in a post last summer about the Augmented Reality magazine, Brainspace.  A tweet from last night reminded me that there are other educational uses for the free Blippar app.  In this post by Rob Stringer on Blippar’s blog, you can find some great uses of Blippar for science activities in the classroom.  I’m ready to try the solar system one tomorrow!

At Diary of a Techie Chick, you can find lots of AR activities.  Using Blippar’s sunflower trigger and a couple of other resources,  @KatieAnn_76 offers a free lesson plan full of rich ideas for learning more about plants.

To learn more about Blippar for Education, click here.  If you are interested in seeing more Augmented Reality activities, here are some I’ve collected over the last few years.

Blippar Volcano