Early Days with Augmented Reality

aurasmaEncountering augmented reality has a wow factor – at least for the first time. There are still enough people who peer behind the camera lens trying to work out what is going on – well, that’s generally the experience with adults. It’s harder to impress a teenager. “yeah, seen that” is the reaction from many but I am wondering if it is possible to push beyond the initial reaction.

  1. Download the app (iPhone, iPad, Android)
  2. Create an account
  3. Upload a trigger image
  4. Upload a video or further images to tag onto the trigger image – these are overlays
  5. Link the two – that’s what an aura is called.
  6. Either publish it privately – this means that only your device will be able to see it
  7. Or publish publically – this means you have to add the aura to a channel (that you also create. Others can then see your aura if they also have the app and choose to follow your channel.


  • trigger images with higher contrasts work best – it needs enough content to work with.
  • become an Aurasma Partner – see the aurasma website and request to have an account. You can then set up auras on a laptop or PC which allow much larger upload files (up to 100Mb), they seem to work more quickly and with greater stability, and you can add ‘actions’. Actions means a variety of things:
  • add a second overlay – you can set up specific parts of the trigger image to be tapped to start a different overlay
  • make the overlay go full-size and become locked to the screen so that you don’t have to hold the device up to the trigger image all the time – particularly handy for junior school children who might wobble around a bit!

Give it a go – it’s actually much easier to appreciate and understand if you do it and it isn’t hard!

The thing is – the teenage audience is generally a pretty critical one – they see through the wrapping and identify a gimmick very swiftly and that’s no bad thing. Even more so with something like augmented reality – “what’s the point of that?” is a very good question to pose – this blog is an attempt to deal with exactly this issue

It’s not about the tech, it’s about the learning. When you have something like augmented reality it is easy to get this the wrong way around. The purpose of using any form of tech in the classroom must be to facilitate learning.

It’s got to last long enough. Using tech like augmented reality in a meaningful way will ensure greater longevity of the idea – it will make it more worthwhile for teachers and students to invest time in thought and action in process.

It’s got to enable something that was not possible before. This is where the learning element is so vital, once again. Tagging an image with a video allows classroom displays to be live, animated, resources. If you don’t like the idea of videos then a still image is absolutely fine – Aurasma can manage this too. If that feels a bit restricting, then try linking your aura to a website – the website will open automatically when the device is pointed at the trigger image. What this means is that your wall displays can have multiple, layered uses. It’s best illustrated with an example: say you have a poster of a dinosaur – the augmented reality bit could be a dinosaur skeleton or a video of an archaeological dig or a link direct to a website discussing how climate change may have been involved in dinosaur extinction.

It’s the students that make it worthwhile.

aurasmaThe above 3 points are really all to do with making displays more exciting – you could say that these displays are useful for learning and they probably are – I can see them being used in a lesson with students interrogating posters for further information. However, involving student content is where augmented reality gets truly interesting. Imagine you have an art project and the student needs to produce some reflective writing based upon it. However, you have a student whose spoken work far surpasses their writing ability. Now you can generate a video and link it directly to the artwork. So, great for differentiation and supporting a specific learning need. I think it is much more though. All students benefit greatly from arguing and presenting their thoughts verbally – it is a great skill.

A few ideas:

  1. Get your sports captain to give a match report interview which you tag to the result on the noticeboard.
  2. Arrange for you art students to give commentaries on their own work – brilliant for exhibitions.
  3. Show the story behind an image – trigger a website that explains or develops the idea in the image or the story behind the painting of the book.
  4. Enliven your classroom displays and make them a more interactive part of your lessons.

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