TEWKSBURY — District Technology Integration Specialist and Coach Lisa Bailey was instantly intrigued when she learned about augmented reality. Bailey had been interested in how she could use virtual technology and augmented reality in the classroom and was inspired after attending a session at the MassCUE (Massachusetts Computer Using Educators) conference in November.
She had been looking for an opportunity to incorporate the technology and wound up collaborating with 7th grade teachers Holly Germain and Jon DiPrima. A combined physical education and writing project brought Germain, a physical education teacher and DiPrima, the writing teacher, together with Bailey, who was delighted with their willingness to give the technology a try.
Augmented reality is a way to use computer technology to layer an image or images onto the real world we are experiencing. A familiar example would be the lines that appear on a football broadcast showing the line that has to be crossed for a team to make the next down. The computer seamlessly lays a line on the field for the viewer without interrupting their enjoyment of the game. In the school example, a one dimensional poster comes to life when a device is held up to it.
Bailey described the project in the following way:
“During this cross-curricular project, the students created interactive, augmented reality posters to demonstrate a physical activity using the ACES (answer, cite, explain, summarize) method for written responses.”
For example, a student interested in fencing made a colorful display which incorporated illustration, a written explanation, and a photograph of the student fencing. A “target” is placed on the static picture and then a visitor holds a tablet up to the poster, the software centers on the target, and magically a short video pops up and the student is actually fencing with another student.
“The work on display in the Gallery Walk is a product of our professional collaboration in an effort to showcase student knowledge, research, and demonstrations utilizing technology,” she said.
Bailey is excited about the success of the project.
“The use of AR in the classroom changes the way students access information, therefore making learning more motivating, engaging, and exciting. AR, experiencing it as well as creating it, gives us the opportunity to modify and redefine what has traditionally been done in the classroom.”
And, Bailey was proud to use technology and hardware the district already had.
“Last year, through a generous donation from the Tewksbury Education Foundation, Principal John Weir was able to purchase 12 iPads and a portable green screen studio for the middle school teachers to sign out and utilize with their students,” she said.
For this project, the students and teachers used the iPads to photograph the triggers and videotape the overlays for the augmented reality. As an option, students had the opportunity to use the green screen technology to add another layer to their project and make it appear that they were in a different location demonstrating their skill.
Bailey explained that the possibilities are endless with AR through extensive apps which cover a range of subject. The Wynn library also has interactive books about the brain, ocean, germs, bugs, etc. which student and teachers may use, thanks to library coordinator Lori Carriere, who has worked with Bailey. The books incorporate AR and bring the information to life on a tablet or smartphone.
Bailey looks forward to sharing this technology with other schools in the district to explore how it can enhance the classroom experience.