What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data (Wikipedia, 2012).

Basically this is a way of using technology to ‘enhance’ the real world environment.

How does it work?

Using a mobile device (such as SMART Phone or Tablet) with a camera you can download a range of applications that contain this feature to interact with your environment. Many apps create a virtual layer over the environment allowing you to interact using your device with the real world location or object.

Check out: http://www.commoncraft.com/video/augmented-reality

How can ‘AR’ enhance teaching and learning or the learner experience?


Location Services

Leeds City College has developed an ‘App’ that uses ‘AR’ alongside the maps function. Learners travelling to a campus can interact with this feature to find out more information about a campus or particular location in a campus such as the Learning Resource Centre for example.



Kendal College have used Aurasma to enhance their prospect using ‘AR’. Prospective students can simply hold their SMART device over the prospectus and videos, images and additional information is displayed on the virtual layer.


Check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4Raxj36Km4


Learner Voice

A powerful example of this technology could be the use of AR to enhance learner voice. Individuals could create their own AR layer and provide video feedback based on their experience of a location (such as the canteen) or their opinion of a prospectus or website.

Teaching & Learning

Using an app called Aurasma there are many ways of enhancing teaching and learning through AR. Some ideas are outlined below:

1) Teaching methods could be improved such as the enhancement of a typical hand out that contains an image that when activated by hovering your phone above it to display a video explanations to support a learning activity.

2) This same approach could be used to differentiate, stretch and challenge learners with extension activities without the need for extra hand outs.

3) Assessment methods could utilise this approach and learners could simply submit a piece of work either via email or hard copy that contains an Active image. The tutor could use this technology to activate the virtual layer and receive addition information, video, images to support a presentation for instance.

4) Active learning zones could benefit in terms of research and study skills. Learners could use Aurasma whilst researching using laptops, books, or other media. A summary of their findings could be attached to an image of the book or website to summarise their findings.

  • Download Aurasma Lite from iTunes
  • Run Aurasma Lite on your iPhone / iPad

( i ) icon – provides help and support whilst using the app

(camera) icon – create an Aura

(beacon) icon – main menu

  • How to create your own ‘Aura’ *AR layer

1) Press the (camera) icon

2) Decide if you want to (bottom right beacon/globe slider):

a. create an Aura accessible from anywhere

b. create an Aura that can only be viewed at a location

3) Identify your active image for instance a page in the prospectus and resize the image capture zone on your screen. View the object or page through your view finder as if you are taking a picture. You will notice a (traffic light slider) bottom right denoting image quality. Once this is green you can take your picture by pressing the (camera) icon top right.

4) The ‘Add Location Aura’ page allows you to search existing animations, images, 3d, videos or you can select ‘My iPhone’/’My Phone’ and attach an image or video from your device gallery/camera roll.

5) Once the Aura has been attached to the trigger image you can name your Aura and this will be saved on your device and press done.

6) Once you are back to the camera view screen of the app simply hover over your image and the AR layer (video/image) will be displayed.

7) There are many other menu features for you to explore along the bottom tool bar of the ‘beacon’ app page.


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2 responses to “What is Augmented Reality?”

  1. Judy Bloxham (@gingerblox) says :

    Check out the RSC Northwest app on both iTunes and Google Play. This explores ideas for using AR in teaching and learning. When you download the app there is a link to printable trigger images. I am exploring how far I can push the capabilities of this technology and currently have some images where the user can select an option to trigger.


    • Jonny Wathen says :

      Hi Judy, sounds great. I think there is a massive amount of potential especially for differentiation and flipped classroom models.

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