Friday, March 6, 2015

Augmented Reality Revives & Rejuvenates, #SOL15

I often find myself glancing up at the T.V. each Sunday night during football season as I simultaneously attempt to complete lesson plans, respond to parent emails, and grade papers. Because my husband is a devoted NFL fan, I randomly engage in conversation with him about team uniforms, player antics, and coaching decisions. A few years ago, I decided to inquire about the rules of the game. Chris patiently explained how the quarterback's job was to gain yards by moving the ball down the field. I walked up the television screen and pointed to the ten yard line. I asked how the players paid attention to the numbers painted on the turf while flying down the field at warp speed. He giggled for a moment, and proceeded to explain that these numbers weren't actually painted the grass. This brief exchange about imaginary lines introduced me to augmented reality.

Since my first exposure to this fascinating concept, my interest has grown and evolved. As the EdCamp craze swept across Texas, I became a Tech Ninja Todd groupie, and the first time I heard him present on the topic of augmented reality, I knew I wanted to know more. Last summer I witnessed the awe-inspiring power of the Itunes app known as ColAR, and today I finally got to share it with my students. In an attempt to heal the wounds of disappointment left behind from our cancelled field trip, I let my fourth graders color just for heck of it. There was no learning target, and our sole purpose for using crayons, markers, and colored pencils was for sheer enjoyment. 

Once the students finished coloring their masterpieces, I grabbed my Ipad and connected to AirServer. I carefully lined up the device's camera with the one dimensional work of art, and within seconds the room was bubbling with oohs and aahs and wows! The students' eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, and a sense of childlike wonder rippled across the room. As dragons breathed fire, firecrackers exploded, and airplanes whizzed through the clouds, my students remained captivated.

I've never actually watched the movie, Reality Bites, but I know from personal experience that this overused cliché rings true. Sometimes things don't go as planned. People get sick. The weather doesn't cooperate. Commitments fall through. Wouldn't it be great if you could just click on an app and augment your reality? You could rearrange schedules, control the behaviors of others, and add a little color and pizzazz to an uneventful day. Until this type of mind-bending technology is invented, I will choose to celebrate the small things. Today my kids were amazed when a three dimensional Converse tennis shoe swiveled, tapped, and danced across the screen. Who knows what tomorrow might hold?


  1. thank you so much for introducting me to colAR. I had never heard of it, but I just looked it up online, and putting that together with something I read recently about the importance of using coloring books to free up their imaginations -- in Europe, coloring books for adults are bestsellers -- I am going to get this app and try it out. I like the way you use photos to move your account along, and illustrate what you're writing about.

    1. I kind of wish I lived in Europe. I want an adult coloring book! I hope you find the app as useful and engaging as I have. Happy augmenting and slicing.

  2. Love this! First, the fact that you punted (I'll bet you know...if not ask your husband), and second, the whole concept of augmented reality! We're about to begin a Fantasy Unit of Study, and I'm thinking this will be an incredibly powerful tool!

  3. I just checked, and there are lots of adult coloring books available in the U.S. Some of them say they're kids books, but they have patterns that would be fun for grownups too. I'm going to try one or two of them.

  4. I love that you allowed your students to lick their wounds in a productive way. Great life lesson-and fun!