Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Augmented reality (AR) in the classroom

This blog post originally appeared on the Discovery Education site in my blog,  Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month in August of 2017. It is reprinted here with permission.

I have much more information and updated AR apps on my Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything AR page.


Last year, I wrote a blog post dealing with the use of virtual reality resources to support the instructional process. I started the article with an explanation of the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality, which I feel is important to include again since, this time, the post will be about the use of augmented reality technology to support teaching and learning. The Augment site includes a well-stated overview of the two technologies.

Augmented reality is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements on top of an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it.
Virtual reality is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or re-creation of a real life environment…It immerses the users by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.


Touchstone Research presents an infographic that showcases how various professions use AR to support learning, access important information in real-time, and for marketing purposes. With the wide-spread use of AR, our students should be provided with the opportunity to become familiar with the the technology and use it in the classroom.


The basic use of AR requires a few things– a smartphone or tablet with a back facing camera, an augmented reality app, and a trigger image. An Internet connection is needed for real-time overlaying of information. The triggers can be something as simple as a QR code, which launches an AR event on the smartphone or tablet, or can be a special printout or photographic images that is viewed through a specialized app. The continued development of great new apps seems to indicate that the use of the app to view a specialized trigger image may be the way things are moving in the AR arena.
One fun app that is popular in schools is Quiver (formerly ColAR Mix) which uses a printed-out and colored-in page to present the student with an interactive experience when viewed through the app. The Quiver Education app (US iOS app store: $7.99 and available on the VPP), includes coloring pages specifically designed for the education market including those for cells, organs of the body, and a specialized set for celebrating “International Dot Day“.
Here is a video demonstrating how this app works.
The EON Experience VR app (iOS and Android), uses the target below to bring the hundreds of simulations included in the app to life. Many simulations can be viewed using both AR and VR. The users simply download the data for the simulation and, through the app, points their smartphone at the target. The great thing about this is the target can be used even from the computer screen!
The trigger image for the EON Experience VR app
AR image of a synapse projected from the trigger image on the computer screen.
Marketing agencies have taken to AR to the next level to allow the user to layer furniture, paint, and much more over a live image of a room. IKEA, Houzz, and Home Depot are only some of the many companies using augmented reality to support consumers. Project Color, from Home Depot allows you pick a paint or stain color and virtually paint your home’s walls, as demonstrated in the video below.
AR is even used in real-time at this kiosk in a Lego store which shows the customer the completed Lego project by simply holding up the box of Legos to the mirror.


Adding interactivity to a classroom learning experience always enhances student engagement. To be able to view and manipulate a object being learned about can lead to deeper understanding and further exploration and questions. Drew Minock, in an Edutopia article, outlines some ways augmented reality can support instruction. Here are a few of them.
  • Book Reviews: Students record themselves giving a brief review of a novel that they just finished, and then attach that “aura” (assigned digital information) to a book. Afterward, anyone can scan the cover of the book and instantly access the review.
  • Word Walls: Students can record themselves providing the definitions to different vocabulary words on a word wall. Afterward, anyone can use the Aurasma app to make a peer pop up on screen, telling them the definition and using the word in a sentence.
  • Lab Safety: Put triggers…all around a science laboratory so, when students scan them, they can quickly learn the different safety procedures and protocols for the lab equipment.
There are some great educational AR apps to support teaching and learning available.
  • DAQRI Anatomy 4D showcases the human anatomy in augmented reality. (iOS | Android)
  • Science AR has the teacher printing out the trigger Science AR posters which come alive with animation as students use the app to view the posters.
  • Amazing Space Journey allows students to take a trip through the solar system. Available for iOS and Android.
  • Star Chart projects the night sky with all the constellations, planets, and other facts while viewing the sky through a smartphone or tablet. (iOS | Android | Windows)
In addition to students using an app to view material created by others, by using an app called Aurasma, students and teachers  are able to create their own “auras” with links to information for others. (iOS | Android)
Creators take a photo or create an image, which then serves as the AR trigger, which in Aurasma is called an “aura”. Using the Aurasma app, students or teachers link that aura to online content, which may be a video, an image or photograph, or a Web site. When viewers use the Aurasma app and scan over those auras, they are presented with the online content in a floating window.
If you have a subscription to Discovery Education Streaming, you can create auras that showcase video clips from the collection and items from the other multimedia collections including image and photos. Students can also create an aura to share their projects which utilize any of these same assets from Discovery Education Streaming.
There are also some fun AR apps that allow the creation of place-based AR pop-ups. Two that are easy to use for teachers and students are Metaverse and Traces. Users can create quests, descriptors for places, and much more. Imagine the incoming freshman walking around the school and learning all about the building, or a student creating an AR overview of the local businesses as a service learning project. If you are familiar with Pok√©monGo, you will realize how engaging these pop-ups would be for students to create and share! Below is a place-based locator I discovered at my local coffee shop!

Place-based locator


There are many other ways teachers and students are using augmented reality in schools. Here are two creative examples that I discovered.
Northwest High School has made  the use of Aurasma an integral part of their school culture.
This educator provides a unique way to use Aurasma and Powerpoint to create interactive experiences.
There is also a new type of reality called “Mixed Reality” or simply MR, which combines some of the aspects of both VR and AR. Dr. Simon Taylor, the Co-founder of Zappar which has created ZapBox, an MR solution, states “in MR, virtual  objects or environments are anchored to things in the real world providing a new and intuitive way for users to interact with virtual content”. This started as a Kickstarter project and is now available for a very low cost.  Watch the video below to get a feel for the exciting new projects that are coming to schools soon!
Do you currently use AR apps in your classroom? Which ones are your favorites and why? Are you having students create auras to share their work? And what are your suggestions for developers for mixed reality projects which would be useful for the classroom? Share your thoughts on Twitter! #kathyskatch

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Finding and citing online images

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in February 2018 and is re-posted here with permission.

I am passionate about students using online tools and standalone apps to create. I truly believe creation allows students to showcase how they have turned the content into their own knowledge. Many of these tools require the use of images for creation of the product. These images can be photos taken by the student, drawings done by the student, or images found in online collections.
It is important for students to realize which online images they have permission to use and how to give credit to the creator. Here are some links, tips, and tricks to help make this easy for them!


There are many sites that have free images and allow users to download, edit, and use the images without any attribution to the creator.
Pixabay, which includes photos, illustrations, and vector graphics, allows users to “copy, modify, distribute, and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist.”

Flickr: The Commons is made of images shared by member institutions that have “no known copyright restriction.” The items may be in the public domain or owned by the institution itself, which is not claiming the copyright on the images. One tip: don’t have students search in the Flickr search box at the top of the page. Look down the page for “The Commons” search box.

The Flickr group, Internet Archive Book Images, is a collection of over 5.2 million historical photos and images from the books in the Internet Archive. Each image carries a “no known copyright restriction” license, so can be used for any purpose and edited. There is no requirement to cite the images, but enough information is included in the description to do so.


Pics4Learning is targeted to student and teacher use of images and includes curriculum-related items that can be used for projects, on the Web, and in portfolios. The collection is comprised of user-contributed images. Images all include this usage information- “This image may be used by teachers and students in school and classroom activities for the express purpose of improving student educational opportunities. The photographer retains the copyright to this image.” Each image includes the full text citation for the image. I could not find this expressly stated on the site, but I am assuming, if the photographer holds the copyright to the image, the images should not be edited without the permission of the creator.

OpenPhoto is a collection of images primarily for artists, developers, students and teachers. The photographers freely license the images and the attribution code is included.

Wikimedia Commons includes millions of free images, sounds, and videos to use. The usage page states: “Everyone is allowed to copy, use and modify any files here freely as long as they follow the terms specified by the author; this often means crediting the source and author(s) appropriately and releasing copies/improvements under the same freedom to others.” What is great about this collection is that it can be searched in many different languages, making it a tool that can be used effectively by all learners.


With the growth of the use of VR to support teaching and learning, here are some online places to find 360° images to use with a simple head-mounted display. Again, students would have to search for images they are allowed to use by checking the licensing and usage rights.
The Flickr 360°group includes almost 30,000 images with many students can download and use with a headset or a 360° viewer app.

The Flickr Equirectangular group includes images that are taken or created in the 2:1 format that make them usable with a VR headset.

I have created a Flickr group, 360° Images for Schools, to collect Creative Commons-licensed 360° images from teachers and students around the world. The collection is growing to be a depository of images that can be downloaded and used in schools.


Oftentimes, in schools, we would like to use collections that are curated and vetted with our students to avoid any “surprises” when students are searching for images. In addition, collections that permit student editing and transformation of images to meet their learning goal is welcomed.
Discovery Education Streaming includes over 42,000 searchable images  to support teaching and learning. Each image can be downloaded in various sizes, edited, and re-used. In addition, the citation for the image in MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style formats is included.


In March of 2015, my Kathy’s Katch blog post dealt with information literacy. One section of the post included information about the Creative Commons project, and it is worth reposting here!
The Creative Commons project has helped immensely with the ease of finding images that can be used in a research report or project.  The Creative Commons project allows content producers to explicitly state how their content may be used. These creators make a determination of whether their asset may be used commercially or just non-commercially, can be transformed into a new product by someone else, and, if they allow transforming of their work, the creators can also require the person who made the changes to apply the same Creative Commons license to their new creation and allow others to edit the new work.
When creators upload images to Flickr or a video to  YouTube, they can pick the combination of permissions they want to allow for the use of their creation, and the Creative Commons license is published.
Here is an overview of the components of the license.
The Creative Commons site has a search engine that allows students to search by license terms, but the three places that students usually search for information and images — Google, Flickr, and Bing — also have Creative Commons-licensed image searching built right in. It works pretty much the same way in each of these tools.


It goes without saying that students should include citations for images they use in a project on a works-cited page. Another idea is to place the citation directly on the image, so it stays with the image if it is used again. This can easily be done in any of the meme apps or tools that allow text to be put on top of an image or in any traditional image-editing software. Another easy way to do this is for students to locate their images and save them on separate slides in Keynote, PowerPoint, or Google Slides. Then they can use the text tool to add the citation to the picture on the slide. When done collecting and adding citations to the images, students can simply export/save the slideshow out as JPEGS and the images are all set to use!
The image citation components from MLA include the following:
It is rare, on most image collections sites, to be able to identify all of these components in an attribution. The student should include as much information as possible and always include the URL of the image. In Flickr, when looking at an image in a collection, the student should go back to the original image and use that URL. For instance, an image in the 360° Images for Schools group will have a URL that looks like this:
If I simply remove everything before the reference to the group, shown above in red, I am led to the creator’s Flickr account and the actual URL of the image which is https://www.flickr.com/photos/141855263@N03/2749265057 which is the URL that should be used in the image citation.
In addition, in Flickr, when looking at all sizes of the photo in order to download one that is the needed size, the URL changes, too. When picking the 1600×800 version of the image, as shown below, the URL changed to https://www.flickr.com/photos/141855263@N03/27492650579/sizes/h/ 
Again, simply delete the information after the photograph’s number, as indicated in red above, and use the URL of https://www.flickr.com/photos/141855263@N03/27492650579 in the citation.
There is one interesting Creative Commons image search engine designed for schools called Photos for Class. When a student does a search, and finds an image to download, the image downloads with the citation attached in a black bar at the bottom of the image (shown below). The citation includes the name of the creator, the title of the photo, and a clickable URL to the original image, and the Creative Commons license.
I think the site makes it easy for students to find images they have permission to use (even commercially) and have permission to edit. However, since the search engine only searches images that have this same license (CC BY 2.0), students are missing out on images that don’t allow editing, don’t permit commercial use, or  those requiring students to share their new work with the same license.
Do you have any favorite image sites to share or ways in which you teach students to search for and cite images? Please share on Twitter! #kathyskatch