We hear about sustainability often today, and for educators, it can have different meanings. Usually we hear it in the context of natural resources such as oil and gas, and developing ways to conserve or, even better, come up with more sustainable and renewable resources. In education, we use it in the context of a student’s ability to retain knowledge or reproduce proof of learning, or a student's ability to learn and grow independently beyond the initial lesson. Is the resource temporary? Is the learning temporary? Or are they sustainable?
Looking at the idea of sustainability from both angles brings us to paper -- or, more specifically, bulletin boards and their vast, continual use of a natural resource at great financial expense. We want to showcase student work and decorate our walls, but we’re constantly using paper and replacing what we display. And what about student work that doesn’t translate to paper?
The sustainable solution: augmented reality.
Paper bulletin boards are fine for certain things, but if students are creating animations or layered presentations or movies, how do you do their work justice by printing a still image and putting it on a board? How do you honor and celebrate their work beyond simply unloading to YouTube or blogging about it? How do you showcase their work in the hallway without losing any of its awesomeness? How do you make their products sustainable?
Recently, fifth-graders at my school used iMovie to create "book trailers," which are movie-trailer style advertisements for their recently finished reading assignment. The classroom teacher and I wanted to find a way to make the book report more dynamic, more than just an essay. We settled on the book trailer because it allowed us to combine somewhat divergent mediums, print and video, in a way similar to what Hollywood does every day, turning a book into a movie.
Once the students completed their book trailers, they used a class Aurasma account to upload the .mov files to serve as the "overlay." We took a photo of them holding their books and used that as the "trigger." Once the "aura" was created, combining the image trigger and overlay, we hung the pictures in the hallway with a brief printed tutorial on downloading the Aurasma app, following the class account, and watching the videos.
Now, anyone who comes through the halls can download Aurasma and watch these videos as they were meant to be seen. We have turned the paper bulletin board on its head and made it more than a piece of paper. The students love it, and so do the parents and staff who stop to watch.
We’ve made the learning sustainable by having the videos readily available for a prolonged period of time with limited use of resources.
We’ve taken the idea of sustainability and brought it to showcasing student video projects. Limited physical resources like paper, projectors, projector bulbs, screens, and physical rooms for viewing have been replaced by a single piece of paper and an app anyone can download for personal viewing on the fly.
Augmented reality is a great way to make student projects sustainable by keeping them available, and literally at the community’s fingertips, for prolonged periods of time with limited resources.