Reality Check

June 2014
Teacher Librarian;Jun2014, Vol. 41 Issue 5, p28
Academic Journal
Augmented reality is hardly a new tool, but the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets has quickly facilitated its inclusion into many K-12 learning environments. Although augmented reality technologies may seem remote for many schools, the truth is that they may be closer than most school librarians think. This article discusses research related to augmented reality in learning environments and strategies for implementation in school libraries as a plan for research or a product of research. Strategies include create, curate, locate, and gamify. Benefits and constraints are also noted. Augmented reality (AR) is hardly a new tool, but the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets has quickly facilitated its inclusion into many K-12 learning environments. Azuma (1997) defines augmented reality as a virtual environment that combines real and virtual, is interactive in real time, and is registered in 3D. Craig (2013) provides a bit broader definition, stating that it is "a medium in which digital information is overlaid on the physical world that is in both spatial and temporal registration with the physical world and that is interactive in real time" (p. 20). Augmented reality is situated in a continuum of environments that ranges from real to totally virtual, with the space between designated as "mixed reality" (Milgram & Kishino, 1994). It is positioned on the real environment side of the continuum, where it blends digital elements with the real environment (see Figure 1). With AR software, the user can simultaneously see the real world and the added digital elements. Currently, there are two main types of augmented reality: marker based and markerless (Johnson, Levine, Smith, & Stone, 2010). Marker-based augmented reality uses a camera and a marker, such as a 2D picture or a QR code, to generate an informative overlay on the environment. Anatomy 4D (Daqri, 2012) is an example of a marker-based augmented reality app. In this app, the user focuses an iPhone or iPad camera on a poster of the human body available with the app, and it populates the image with bones, organs, and nerves. Markerless augmented reality employs other capabilities of the device, such as GPS, to generate the informative overlay. The Starwalk app (Vito Technology, 2012) is an example of markerless augmented reality, as the user simply points the camera at the sky to reveal stars, constellations, planets, and orbiting objects within range.


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