Archive for the tag “VR”

Pokemon Go.

damoballI’ve got another Pokemon Go article happening over at FindingDamo.com. I just wanted to look at it from an educational perspective as well, a year on from my last look at the subject.

A year later, my huge dreams have come to nothing. I haven’t created an AR scavenger hunt. I haven’t made the virtual St James College Paintball stadium.

But I’m still playing Pokemon Go.

It hasn’t lost its fascination for me. A year on, I’m still walking ten kilometres over a weekend to hatch some eggs (and to stay fit). I go on raids with total strangers to catch legendary monsters that I can’t fight by myself.

The concept is a good one. The merit of game-play that doesn’t rely on controllers or even being inside the house is excellent. Surely it is something we can use in an educational setting.

Imagine (and feel free to make these apps happen with my blessing):

What’s that bird? 

You hold your camera up to a bird in the wild, it scans the shape and colour and if it finds a match, adds it to your Bird-watching field book. Gotta see ’em all!

Ghosts of the past

A virtual historical landscape that overlays our actual world. Hold the phone up and see what your block looked like one hundred years ago. There are apps out there like this already – the Vic Heritage app on iPhone shows you pictures of places around Melbourne when you get close enough – but it isn’t augmented reality as much as it is pop up photos using GPS.

With the focus on STEAM and Digital Technologies, there is an excellent opportunity for keen teachers with time on their hands (ha!) to work with their students to create games that don’t just emulate stuff already out there in the world, but to create something completely new, with an educational bent.

How about virtual art galleries? I’ve been working with our Art department on trialling QR codes and AR hotspots to bring up explanations, rough sketches and videos relating to student artworks in the College gallery. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could lift your phone to an artwork and see it in sketch form? Or see a video of the creator explaining their process?

We’re only scratching the surface of the possibilities here. Mostly because any teacher interested enough to make something like this happen already has too much on their plate to take on something new.

But still, have the conversation. Delegate. Get the students to do it as a project. They’ll probably do a better job than you would anyway.

And keep playing Pokemon Go. That Lugia won’t catch itself!

PS. Check out TheSTEAMReport.com.au – I am editing this for Minnis Publications and you can subscribe for a monthly (soon to be bi-monthly) email newsletter containing bitesize articles for your STEAMy pleasure.

All the extra reality

pokehatePokemon Go has polarised my Facebook feed. Half of my friends are right into it. The other half are groaning over the next Bulbasoar picture. I downloaded the app four days after it was released in Australia, got my wife and daughter hooked and haven’t looked back. I justify this because as the Head of IT at my school I need to know what’s popular in technology. I justify this because as a father, I am looking after my daughter’s health by increasing our exercise while hunting for new species of Pokemon.

I justify this because it’s a very engaging game with a strong community of followers. And it’s fun.

But it has brought to the forefront a conversation that I have been having for years about the value of AR and VR. That’s Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for the uninitiated.

VR booth from the early 90s

Dactyl Nightmare VR game from 1991

Virtual Reality is the replacement of our reality with another, complete, world. You wear a headset or a helmet and when you move your head, your virtual head moves as well so that you can look around. In the early nineties, this was going to be the next big thing. I spent hours in bulky armour carrying a pistol and shooting pterodactyls on the VR system at a games arcade. I did my major project for my Bachelor of Computing in VRML, replicating the (then) new Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre so that people could go on a virtual tour of the space.

VR and VRML were going to replace the Internet and television and movies would never be the same.

Fast forward twenty years. VRML is nowhere to be seen – a victim of optional plugins and varying standards. VR went into hibernation until the Occulus Rift dragged it kicking and growling from its den.

And now, twenty years after I foolishly specialised in online 3D navigation, we are finally ready to have the VR and AR conversation again.

At this year’s DLTV DigiCon, my favourite keynote speaker was Josh Caratelli, a game designer from Big Ant Studios. The point I took from his keynote was this: VR and AR are not the future of technology. Getting involved in this now isn’t early adoption. We should already be on top of this.

Oh, and holograms aren’t that far off either.

So, racing to catch up to where I was twenty years ago with my MSAC model and my exploding pterodactyls, how can I introduce/use AR and VR into our curriculum?

Here’s a couple of ideas:

Scavenger hunts

We have school tours come through on a pretty regular basis. We have Grade 5 Come and See programs where primary students spend the morning doing Year 7 subjects to get an idea of how the school works. We have orientation days and art exhibitions and parent information nights. If we could enhance the school using AR we’d save on paper and showcase the brilliance of our student modellers and programmers.

My plan:

I’ve made a list of things around the school that could easily be modelled. I’ll hand one of these to each of the students in my Year 8 Engineering and Design class. They’ll create these models. We export them into Aurasma – an excellent AR tool for IOS. We match them to their real life counterparts and as parents move through the school with the app open, 3D models will pop up, with the name of the student next to them. Instant exhibition space.

Exhibition Spaces

Speaking of which…

We have regular art exhibitions at the school. If a parent held their phone up to the picture, an information sheet with an explanation of the work, their photo and maybe some sketches could pop up on the screen to add information to the picture.

qr_code_without_logoOr we could go old school and instead of having the student’s name and homeroom, we simply have a QR code, which links to an online space with their production journal and concept art scanned in.

The boys would set up their own pages, demonstrating competency across a number of DigiTech areas.

Value added Literacy

Book-e-mon. Gotta read ‘em all.

When you use Aurasma on Small Gods, it will pop up a review.

AR book reviews

This is the slogan I want for Book Week this year. I’m going to have my class all create an image with a book review for their favourite book. Add in pictures and their names. And then put each of these into Aurasma. The teachers can do the same. As students return and review books, the librarian can check to see if the book is one of the enhanced versions and if it is, the student wins a prize.

In the near future:

Other possibilities would be having a Microsoft Hololens when they finally come out. The Arts department could run virtual sculpturing sessions. We could add AR instructions to woodwork classes. Minecraft club would suddenly be a LOT more interesting.

I’d also take a look at the new HP Sprout.

And that’s just Augmented Reality. What about replacing reality altogether?

VR

Mecha-PTBIn Year 10 we run VET Creative Industries in partnership with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment. We also run Game Design, using Game Maker and Unreal Engine. My plan is to get hold of a HTC Vive system and start building models that we can import into that virtual world. I’d get the boys to recreate the school and run virtual paintball sessions created by the more active Game Design classes. We could run virtual tours of the school.

Enhancement and Acceleration

All this extra reality is a great way to enhance our educational possibilities. AR and VR give the students opportunities to excel beyond the regular curriculum restrictions. Posters could become multimedia extravaganzas. Teachers could walk through a real life recreation of an Egyptian pyramid. We could split the atom in Science without blowing up half of the school.

I think the other big point I took away from this year’s DigiCon is that we need to stop limiting our students and instead let them learn in the best way for them. The other thing I learned is that I have a LOT still left to learn.

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