Please, Someone Get Me Excited about Augmented Reality
I’ve become curmudgeonly in my “older” age. To my dismay, I’ve found myself drifting away from my more idyllic attitudes of 12 years ago, and settling into deeper, more moody, thought patterns that have me thinking more like Gary Stager than I would like to admit (although I certainly wouldn’t approach his level of bombastic rhetoric). I’m being slightly alarmist here; I’m only 34, and I certainly have a long ways to go to cement myself in the straight jacket of “old man grumpiness”. Perhaps it’s the role I find myself increasingly playing at school; the “anchor” attempting to slow down and “manage” some of the institutional changes in my district while simultaneously allowing the “explorers” to push ahead. The cognitive dissonance of working both angles is stressful at times.
Which is why I’m tossing this challenge out here, provided anyone actually reads it. I want to believe that most technology has amazing educational applications. I want to know that some of the up and coming leaders in the educational technology world are up on stage (or their Youtube channels) singing the praises of amazing educational opportunities, not just the same old “snake oil” sales pitch that even I’ve pitched in the past.
Your Challenge – Show me the promise of Augmented Reality beyond the current “fluffiness” that has captured the internet’s heart.
(note: by fluffiness, I mean the unfulfilled promise of an application)
Some background on my thoughts:
- AR, Augmented Reality, is the newest darling to hit the mobile scene for education. I’ve seen “hot new” devices and technology come and go (interactive whiteboards, webquests, PDAs, netbooks, etc.). For the most part, our tools are what we make of them, but they can only be stretched so far. Is the promise of Augmented Reality being stretched too far?
- When Andy Losik, king of the “let’s do awesome stuff for education” crowd here in Michigan, starts questioning the value of how a technology is applied to the learning environment, I take notice. “New hotness” is great for highlight reels, but we need a lot of depth on our educational benches, and I’m not seeing that yet from Augmented Reality.
- I’m always suspicious when products and/or technologies are rapidly adopted for advertising and marketing campaigns. Yes, there’s something to be said about the power of a tool that seems so magical it puts a smile on the face of all that see it (myself included). I’m just looking for applications beyond the “engaging hook” factor. I’m sure they’re out there, I just need someone to show me the deep student-led application of AR in the classroom.
- There’s a serious “creepy factor” to Google Glass and other augmented reality devices that seem to break certain pre-conceived notions of privacy and causes discomfort when you’re unsure of what’s being captured or not.
To be clear, I’m not saying that Augmented Reality is a poor learning tool; just questioning whether it’s time in our classrooms as a powerful learning device is here, or if it’s still in incubator stage. Interactive whiteboards were promised to be “transformative” teaching and learning tools when they exploded in the early 2000s. While I still believe they can be effective and creative tools in the hands of the right individuals, the reviews on their impact appear to be mixed. As we stand at the precipice of mobile device ubiquity in our classrooms here in the United States (well, those school districts with any money left), I fear that Augmented Reality and other “apps” may prove to be just as tempting, yet underwhelming in delivery.
Are my thoughts off base? Am I wrong? Does someone have some great examples of the promise of Augmented Reality fulfilled in ways that aren’t just 3D encyclopedias, or playful “auras” that are being gobbled up as the latest marketing sensation? Am I even asking the right questions?
image – Augmented Reality by Tom – http://www.flickr.com/photos/turkletom/4325703868/