Bringing Augmented Reality to Life – in the classroom and the workplace

The team at ResourceLink decided to follow up our recent blog post on Augmented Reality by testing it out in the ‘real world’. We have had two major opportunities over the past weeks to play in the augmented reality sphere, and we would like to share with you our experiences and hopefully inspire others to branch out into this exciting area of edtech.

The first opportunity we had was at the annual Kids Connect, which is a conference run by kids, for kids, organised by Paul Shaw and the Year 7 students at St Thomas Camp Hill.

The organising committee for Kids Connect, from St Thomas School Camp Hill.

Last year was the first time ResourceLink team members had participated, and we blogged about our experience of developing interactive historical timelines here.

This year, with the theme of ‘Escape 2 the Future’, we decided to use Augmented Reality as a way of providing windows into the past and the future. As the Kids Connect conference was once again at the amazing Brisbane Powerhouse, we knew that we could use AR technology to give the students a way of exploring the way time can be viewed as a continuum from a particular point in time.

Click on the image to access information about how to download these apps to try them out for yourself.

We introduced the students first to the concept of Augmented Reality by giving them a number of experiences using some of the apps we blogged about previously. The students were immediately engaged and excited by the possibilities before them, as they viewed the different animations and movies made possible using apps such as String, HeartCam, SpidermanAR and Floodlines.

The marker was a printed A4 page, with a black and white icon on it. You can see the marker to the left of the black and white photo, which is the ‘aura’ – an historical photo of the Powerhouse prior to its redevelopment. The marker was placed on the glass entry to the Powerhouse, and the exterior of the Powerhouse as it appears today can be seen through the glass in the background of the photo.

Once the students had an idea of what Augmented Reality was, we sent them off on a discovery journey around the Powerhouse. We had placed markers around the building, and the students had to find the markers and using their iPad or iPod touch, view the marker through the Aurasma app. Each marker had been placed in a part of the Powerhouse where we had sourced an historical photo of the same spot. As the students viewed the markers through Aurasma, an historical photo of the place where they were standing emerged, so the students essentially had a ‘window’ into the past history of that part of the building.

Once all of the markers had been discovered, the students used the app PicPlayPost to create a frame that featured their favourite ‘window’ into the past, and a video explanation of why they chose that one. To get an idea of the way places change over time, the students viewed a few short clips from Back to the Future, and made observations about the way the locations changed, and yet in some ways stayed the same as Marty McFly travelled through time. With this idea in mind, the students then explored and discussed images of the future, suggesting how they thought life might be improved through technology in the future.

We then introduced the students to the Aurasma app. Aurasma is also an AR technology, and it allows you to create your own ‘auras’ which are embedded into a marker that you create. The students used a number of apps on the iPads and iPod touches including iMovie, Toontastic and Screenchomp to put together a short video depicting their vision of the future, which would act as their ‘window’ into the future.

Finally, the students created their ‘markers’, which were simply A4 posters. We had pre-created ‘location’ channels for each of the mobile devices, so when the students went through the process of embedding their auras onto the posters they had created, they could upload them to the channels and share amongst each other. We did experience a few ‘glitches’ with this process, as the wireless internet was quite weak, and the student’s videos were in some cases over a minute long, however we also experienced successes with this process.

The final result was that the students were able to share with others a glimpse into the future that they imagined, via an augmented poster that they had created – take a look at how they worked…

Our second AR project involved an art installation in our office, which we enhanced using the Aurasma technology.

“The Earth in the Balance” on display in ResourceLink

A staff member using an iPod touch to view Rick’s video from the marker.

When the artist, Mr Rick Dalmau offered us the opportunity to display his work at ResourceLink, we jumped at the chance. However it quickly became apparent that Rick’s sculpture had many meanings, and that the story behind it’s construction was fascinating. So, with his permission, we created a short video of him explaining how the piece came together, and we used the Aurasma Studio app to embed this movie into a marker we created using one of his photos of the piece. Entitled ‘Earth in the Balance’, the piece is created from a variety of found objects. If you wish to hear Rick speak about his creation, simply download this PDF Leviathan over granite . Download the Aurasma app, and search for the ‘ResourceLink Auras’ channel, and subscribe.

Once you have subscribed, simply hold your device, with the app open over the printed pdf, and the video should begin playing. Double click on the video to make it full screen. Make sure your volume is on full!

Augmented Reality has really added to ways we can share information, and enhance our resources and displays – if you have any exciting ways you have used AR, please share in the comments below!

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Metamorphosis: the 2012 ResourceLink Film Festival

The theme of Metamorphosis captured in the festival advertisement was adopted, as a symbol of the power of film to change us on a deep and somewhat primal level and also inspired ResourceLink to review and refresh the way the festival was structured and delivered, in particularly the way in which we engaged participants in their professional learning.  Adopting a project based approach to replace a traditional model of professional learning about film making and engaging with new media sources to share and reflect about film.  This post will review the 2012 ResourceLink Film Festival sharing the successes and learning’s from the journey.

This title is available through Curriculum Press. It is a fabulous resource for all educators. Click the image to purchase or find out more.

While the Film Festival has always been about promoting the use of film in education, an increasingly important part of the program is the student produced films section. This is in recognition of the fact that students now live in a multimodal world, where economic, social, cultural, global and technological changes have reconstructed concepts of literacy, reading, writing and text (Anstey and Bull, 2011, p.1).

If we adopt the definition of literacy put forward by Luke and Freebody in 2009, we see that

‘Literacy is the flexible and sustainable mastery of a repertoire of practices with the texts of traditional and new communications technologies via spoken, print and multimedia’ (p.9, cited in Anstey and Bull, 2011). Therefore, in order to be considered ‘literate’ in the 21st century, students must be able to access a range of resources, including knowledge of

  • text and context
  • multimedia and technology, and the semiotic systems they employ
  • aesthetics and design
  • social and cultural diversity
  • critical literacy

(Anstey and Bull, 2011, p.8).

Involving students in the planning, scripting, filming, editing and producing of their own films provides many opportunities for each of these resources to be developed.

Students proudly walked the red carpet to present their films.

Traditionally the film festival has hosted a two day course on short film making in conjunction with a screening of student produced short films.  This year the ResourceLink team asked the question how might the student produced films be enhanced through ‘on the job’ professional training and support?  What was found was a significant level of diversity and creativity was shown through the films and more so allowed students and teachers to achieve beyond their own expectations.

Working with teachers and students the team of ResourceLink supported the development of seven short films from three schools.  Our support was three fold: engaging and extending the pre-production phase of film making, supporting filming and providing support in post-production.

Pre-production:

This phase began by exposing teachers and students to as many diverse films, reflecting on the stories and messages and examining the technical aspects of the film such as, camera angles, music, costuming and editing techniques.  It was in this phase that students engaged in critical reflection and discussion.  After grounding students in some film theory, students could then begin unpacking the theme in great depth and begin to develop the concepts of their own films.  This for the most part was done without much support from ResourceLink.  Once students had landed their concept it was time for the students to develop a script and to begin storyboarding.  Constantly reviewing and adapting their work until they were ready to film.

 Production:

Supporting participants as they tackle this phase was perhaps the most fun and tiring phase of the project.  This saw participants to reflect and adapt on the fly as they encountered problems such as poor weather, absent actors, and malfunctioning equipment.  This saw many participants to consider quite creative and clever solutions.

Post Production:

Again supporting participants through this process the team from ResourceLink supported the production teams as they sourced creative commons materials to add the extra professional touches to their works.

The students were thrilled to receive an award acknowledging their movie-making, and also enjoyed a creative activity that saw them create their own origami butterfly, which they labelled with one word or a phrase to describe how the movie making process had changed them. These butterflies formed part of the decoration for the teacher film festival to be held later that afternoon.

As the teachers arrived to a delicious afternoon tea provided by Spoon Deli, they were delighted to see our theme of metamorphosis depicted in the hundreds of origami butterflies that decorated the room. During the evening screening session, we were very lucky to have secured Kathleen Noonan and Fr Anthony Mellor, who provided us with commentary and insight from a non-educational perspective.

During the evening, the teachers were invited to share their thoughts and opinions of the films, and how they might use these or similar short films in their classroom via a BackChannel established using TodaysMeet. The teachers also had the opportunity to post their thoughts to a broader audience via Twitter, using the hash tag #morph2012.

Using a tool such as TodaysMeet allowed the viewers to share their thoughts at the moment that they had them, rather than try to save them until a plenary session after the screenings. By posting to the TodaysMeet stream, teachers were also more willing to add their thoughts, as they did not have to stand up and publicly share them to the large group.  A selection of the TodaysMeet stream can be seen on the right.

The films selected this year were based not only on the theme ‘Metamorphosis’, but also were selected to showcase a variety of film formats and delivery methods. As an encouragement to teachers to consider the quality multimedia available on YouTube, the evening began with the showing of a selection of short films from the Tropfest Short Film Festival YouTube channel. These ranged from the humourous (Boo), to the reflective (My Constellation), from the challenging (RGB) to the inspiring (One Thing).

These short films were followed by another inspiring short film, The Butterfly Circus. Winner of several international awards, including the Clint Eastwood Filmmaker Award, The Butterfly Circus is a beautiful story of how a young man with what seems to be overwhelming disabilities (he has no limbs) is given the opportunity to dream of a future he thought would never be possible.

The possibilities for the way this film could be used in the classroom are endless. As teachers observed, it could be seen as a re-interpretation of the Easter Story, and the role of the Showman could be seen as a Jesus figure, taking those who had been cast off by society and showing them their beauty and their worth. The direct links to the theme Metamorphosis were unmistakeable, even to the point of the presence of a butterfly making its transformation just as the human characters did also.

After a delicious hot meal from AbFab Catering and great discussion over dinner, the teachers returned to the lolly buffet to stock up on readiness for the final movie.

The feature film of the night, We Bought a Zoo tells the true story of a family who bought and rebuilt a rundown zoo. Although the Hollywood treatment neglects some of the real life challenges of such a purchase (in the film, the decision to buy is made on the spot, whereas in real life, the process of purchasing took over 2 years), the film does focus on the metamorphosis of the family, as they move from a place of darkness and grief into a new life full of possibility.

 The film was then reviewed in a ‘Margaret and David’ style (from ABC’s At the Movies), as Kathleen Noonan and Fr Anthony Mellor discussed the themes of the movie. Of note was the use of the soundtrack, and the way that movie and music can sometimes be used to engage students in areas where more direct approaches might fail. Also discussed was how rich, quality media is available in many forms, some of which are listed below.

The evening was wrapped up by our Senior Education Officer, Kerry Rush. A great day, a fun evening and a lot of learning sums up the Film Festival once more for another year.

References:

Bull, Geoff, and Michele Anstey. Evolving pedagogies: reading and writing in a multimodal world. Carlton South, Vic.: Education Services Australia, 2010. Print.

Powerhouse of Leaders – Student Leadership and Faith Formation

Last week Brisbane Catholic Education hosted the Powerhouse of Leaders event at the Brisbane Powerhouse.Powerhouse of Leaders

It was the third time we had run this event, and by far the best. It aims to inspire our Year 12 school leaders to not only connect with the Catholic Church and experience quality liturgy and celebration, but also to engage them with how they can use their roles as school leaders to empower their fellow students. Throughout the day, the students, who come from across the Brisbane Archdiocese, are challenged to explore their potential.

This year, after an atmostpheric Welcome to Country, the students and teachers participated in a liturgy led by our new Archbishop, His Grace Mark Coleridge, in his first official event in his new role.  His Grace told the group of Year 12’s that they are not just the church of the future, but the church now – and that one of the things God is asking is that young people provide leadership in the Church. This leadership is what he saw at the World Youth Day gathering. Archbishop Coleridge went on to say that just as we refresh the screen on our computers, the Church sometimes requires refreshing also, and that young people are the ‘refresh button’ that will enable the church to remain new.  He also spent time explaining to the students that as Digital Natives, the Year 12 leaders would be able to lead the Church into the future, and be missionaries in this new Digital Continent that Pope Benedict has spoken of.

We had the amazing gospel singing of  Vocal Rush, supporting talented students from our schools lifting the liturgy with their magical voices, and first class multimedia produced by Smoke Creative.

After this, the students and teachers laughed and cried along with the two keynote speakers, Khoa Doh and Robyn Moore.

Khoa recounted his fascinating life story, and shared with the students his irrepressible optimism and passion for helping others. His determination to succeed and to share this success with his family and with others who also face obstacles in their lives inspired the students, who shared their thoughts using Twitter and Todays Meet in an activity after he spoke.

Lunchtime saw the students party with Bang Crash Tap, and just chill out and enjoy the beautiful weather in New Farm Park, meeting new friends from across the Archdiocese.

In the afternoon, Robyn Moore captured the student’s imaginations, and the awe and delighted surprise that was palpable when she revealed to them that she was the voice of Blinky Bill was incredible. Using warmth, humour and plain old common sense, Robyn gave the students many ways to deal with the ‘Crap’ life can deal any of us, and her passion for her work was obvious.

As the students ended their day with a closing liturgy and a boogie along with the Rush band, it was clear to see from their faces that they had participated in what was for them, a transformational event.

Postscript:

For those who may have missed it, Archbishop Mark Coleridge has spoken about his vision for the Brisbane Archdiocese in his Press Conference with Apostolic Administrator Geoffrey Jarrett at Wynberg, Brisbane, Queensland, 4 April, 2012. View it here: http://vimeo.com/catholicbrisbane/review/39750949/bca9ce40bd

End of Year Celebrations – Multimedia to share the Memories

 

The final weeks of school are an overwhelmingly busy time for everyone in the entire school community.

Exams

Reports

Class Lists

Christmas and break up events

Graduations

Awards nights

It is exhausting just thinking about it!

The culmination of a busy year, combined with the general exhaustion that accompanies it means that any time saving measure is of great importance.

The ResourceLink Blog is here to help!

The centrepiece of many graduation and end of year events is the ‘photostory’ – a slideshow or video production that captures the many events that occurred during the year. While the actual production may only go for 4-5 minutes, anyone who has been involved in their creation knows just how time-consuming they can be to produce – and the pressure that grows each year to create one that is bigger and better than the previous year’s.

Thankfully technology exists to take much of the headache out of creating these shows – and below you will find a number of free or very reasonably priced digital tools that will create amazing multimedia quickly and easily.

Before introducing these tools, a short word on copyright.

Copyright in this area is incredibly complex. In most cases images used are photos and video taken by the school, and therefore the copyright rests with the school, and there is no problem here. However, most multimedia productions use music as a soundtrack.  The best advice is to research your particular scenario on the SmartCopying website, or even better, if at all possible use music licenced under a Creative Commons licence, where attribution is one of the only requirements for use. There are many places where Creative Commons music may be sourced, including CCMixter and Jamendo . Another alternative is to use student created music. Even young students can create innovative soundscapes using free programs such as Garageband and Audacity.

Keeping these copyright issues in mind, let’s look at some of the wonderful tools currently available to assist you in creating fantastic end of year reflections!

1. Animoto

Animoto stands alone for ease of creation and for an amazing time vs outcome ratio. Simply upload your photos/short video grabs, select from a wide range of Creative Commons licenced music grouped by genre, choose a video ‘style’ and click create. The remixing, syncing to music and transitions are automatically handled by the Animoto tool, which then kindly sends you an email to alert you when the remix process is complete. The outcome is a stylish, professional looking video that can be embedded into blogs and websites, or downloaded and burnt to dvd. Teachers are able to access a ‘pro’ account for free. A tutorial on how to Animoto is available for download from our blog  here.

2. Photopeach

Photopeach creates short videos and slideshows,and has a special section specifically for educators, in the same way as Animoto does. Unfortunately, it appears that the educator accounts, while offering more control and privacy, are only available in a paid subscription form. Despite this, for a teacher looking to create an exciting looking slideshow for the purposes of an end of year event, the free account may be all that is required.  Photopeach operates on a similar way to Animoto – photos are uploaded, accompanying music selected and the layout chosen. The program then creates a slideshow that can be embedded or shared. The final product has a slightly different look to Animoto.

3. Capzles

Capzles is a slightly different product, which we have written about before here. Although it is a timeline creator in essence, it could be used to create an innovative multimedia slideshow. The disadvantage of using a tool such as this or Vuvox (a similar tool) is that the end product is a Flash based show that cannot be downloaded and burnt onto a disc for distribution. However if you are looking for a different ‘look’ to previous years, these tools might be worth considering.

Using these tools, you are sure to wow the crowd at your end of year event, and as a by-product, learn useful skills that you can pass on to your students in creating innovative multimedia – win win!