Source: WGBH, KQED, and MIT STEP
In this video from MIT's Scheller Teacher Education Program, learn how augmented reality can be used to create novel learning experiences in STEM education. See how MIT's augmented reality authoring tool (MITAR), an application for building location-based games, can help students become more involved and engaged in learning. Timelab 2100, a game about the effects of global climate change, is featured as an example of how MITAR can be used.
Augmented reality is a term for a real-world environment that is combined with some sort of virtual information from a computer. MIT's augmented reality authoring tool (MITAR) enables students and teachers to develop and play simulation games that use real-world locations. This game-building software was developed by MIT's Scheller Teacher Education Program to help people learn.
How does an augmented reality game work? It basically merges locations in the real world with information presented in the game. Players use mobile devices to interact with virtual characters and information while walking through actual locations. As the player moves through the real world, a dot represents her location on a map on the screen. When she reaches the location of a virtual game object, she is presented with new information.
This basic template for an augmented reality game can be used for a range of subjects. For example, augmenting an environment with tools for virtual sampling of substances and data collection can be helpful for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning. Because the games are tied to real-world spaces, they are able to promote more authentic scientific experiences for students. In addition, using MITAR, students can learn not only by playing a game, they can also learn by building their own games to share with others.
Students tend to enjoy using technology and become excited about what they are doing. However, not all computer-aided learning is necessarily beneficial. As Josh Sheldon, project manager at MIT's Scheller Teacher Education Program, states, there is a need to distinguish between good and not-so-good cyberlearning opportunities:
"... in reality, we should strive for the same things with cyberlearning tools that we should with traditional tools—focus on being interactive, engaging, well-designed pedagogical tools. All that said, cyberlearning tools can offer some extra benefit because they can show more animations or interaction than a piece of paper can.
"Our tool, the MITAR Game Builder, provides a platform for building location-based augmented reality games. This gives students a reason to build the best games they can, and in the context of science learning, can be a powerful tool to help others learn the content they are mastering by having to convey it. For example, a student who was an avid amateur birder and a good, but not exceptional, student suddenly had a platform to convey his interests to his teacher and fellow students in an engaging way—by building a game for them to play."
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