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IBLC11-Abstract-Unlocking the Hidden Curriculum: Using Augmented Reality as an Engaging and Immersive Learning Resource

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Nannayi Dakat
16 May 2011

Author: Mr Dale Potter


This session will describe a JISC-funded project exploring the use of ‘Augmented Reality’ (AR) as an academic resource, enabling learners to interact and engage with biodiversity data on the University of Exeter campus, and offering new opportunities for blended learning.  Augmented Reality technologies enable detailed, computer-enhanced layers to be added to the physical world, offering significant contextual and immersive learning experiences for a range of audiences, including undergraduate students.  These technologies are predicted to become widespread in coming years (Horizon Report, 2010), offering a convergence-based approach to the geographies of learning – for example linking learning material to notable locations and the content that denotes their importance.

Following work with undergraduate Biology students to develop a dataset featuring 30 species of plants and animals on the University’s biodiversity-rich campus, a pilot AR application was tested with exciting outcomes, but also highlighting technological and conceptual challenges.  Despite issues, AR’s potential was explored with several different groups, supporting both the formal and informal curricula and engaging both the University and the wider community.  Feedback from students, educationalists and other stakeholders has been very positive, with further interest and excitement amongst industry professionals worldwide.   Further trials with three distinct user groups - undergraduates, the general public and primary school children - will develop feedback on AR's interest and ease of use.

Discussion will cover technological implementation – including possible platforms – along with their shortcomings & difficulties of application.  Contents of a toolkit of educational resources will be highlighted, enabling understanding of potential and future uses of AR technology, whilst also providing materials supporting the development of current technology within new contexts. 

Whilst this relatively infant technology has yet to achieve mass-market consumer awareness, the rapid pace of innovation is offering technological improvements every day, indicating that AR has real potential for informing high quality learning. 

Keywords: Augmented Reality, Biodiversity, New technologies

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