Common Sense Review
Updated November 2015


Augment reality with innovative, somewhat clunky tool
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Introductory tutorial and user guide help get you started.
  • Browse user-created Auras.
  • Use ordinary objects as triggers.
  • Transform ordinary objects using overlays to create Auras.
Broad applications across content areas, and can liven up classrooms and schools.
The pre-created content is a mixed bag, and the unintuitive interface can make the app frustrating to use.
Bottom Line
Despite the bugs, Aurasma has the potential to make classwork more magical with student- or teacher-created augmented reality experiences.
Stacy Zeiger
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

For students new to augmented reality, seeing objects and images come to life adds a definite wow factor.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Adding video or animations to static content can help students make deeper, real-world connections to abstract or hard-to-relate-to ideas. The best uses of Aurasma, however, require inventive implementation.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

The basic user guide and extensive online video help get students started. The user-created content is uneven in quality, but it can help kids and teachers get ideas for their own creations.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Bring textbooks to life by creating Auras to connect to specific photographs, charts, or text boxes. Since the trigger image can be nearly anything, teachers can design lessons around whatever they're covering. For example, in a social studies text, you could add a video overlay of a historian talking about Washington crossing the Delaware to a photograph of the famous painting. In an art text, try adding a video tour of the Louvre on top of a picture of the Mona Lisa, along with showing other, related paintings. You could also use Aurasma to create a scavenger hunt; have students find trigger images, and use the Auras to answer questions. On a field trip, students can point devices at displays and get additional information on the exhibit, provided the teacher set it up earlier. Auras could also be used to guide work in classroom stations, by placing a trigger image at each station and overlaying a video with instructions or a description of how to perform a task.

Students can also get in on the action, spicing up posters, writing assignments, and artwork. For example, when creating informational posters, students can create Auras to show videos of themselves talking more about the topic. With a writing assignment, students can add triggers to connect readers to illustrations. And on artwork, students can use Auras to connect viewers to explanations of the piece or stories related to the work.

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What's It Like?

Aurasma allows users to create or view augmented reality (AR) experiences that blend the physical and digital using a mobile device's camera. Simply point your device's viewfinder at an object or photo (called the "trigger") in physical space, and wait for the Aura, an interactive experience that transforms the trigger image into a video, an animation, or another image on the device's screen.

For Aurasma to work, the triggers must have an attached Aura. Users can start by browsing a collection of pre-created Auras, created by Aurasma or by other users who chose to make their Auras public. The pre-created Auras include triggers such as fast food logos, images of superheroes, pictures of celebrities, and even pictures of dollar bills. 

To create their own Auras, students or teachers choose an overlay and a trigger. An overlay is a video, an image, or an animation that will appear when someone finds the trigger object or photo. Aurasma offers a library of overlays to choose from, but users are also free to create their own. Users can save their Auras as either public or private, choose whether to add them to a specific channel in Aurasma's library, and share their Auras with others.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Although much of the pre-created content available on Aurasma doesn't connect with learning, student- or teacher-created Auras can be valuable learning tools. Aurasma gives teachers the opportunity to enhance content by incorporating videos, photographs, and animations into their curricula to help engage students and more easily reach struggling readers, students with unique learning styles, and those with special needs. It also helps students learn to make connections between the object or photograph used as a trigger and the Aura itself. By creating their own Auras, students can stretch their creative muscles, make deeper learning connections, and begin to think critically as they develop associations between triggers and Auras. However, teachers will have to talk with students about how to make those connections and how to use Aurasma effectively and be prepared to deal with the occasional bug. 

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