A Reappropriation of Smart Phones

Singaporean students with a smart phone

Key Features

A Smartphone with Augmented Reality (AR) is predicted to be adopted within education in the near future (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011) and I would predict that it has a very real future. “Augmented reality refers to the addition of a computer-assisted contextual layer of information over the real world, creating a reality that is enhanced or augmented” (Johnson et al., 2011, p. 16). There are two ways to do this:

  1. Using GPS coordinates, the AR software recognises your geo-positioning location , or
  2. Using the camera, the AR software recognises the object and displays a layer of information on the screen. (Johnson et al., 2011)

Layar is a company that makes a Layar Reality Browser that uses the smartphone camera to assist interaction between the user, the smartphone and the AR.

Potential & Recommendation

Some of the following ideas may seem unrealistic for the average teacher but teachers need to, innovate and think creatively pedagogically, rather than technologically, if we are to keep teaching and learning cutting edge. I admit that for these to be implemented, one must create software with a program similar to Layar which requires technical knowledge of AR. However, we must remember that currently, 40% of US mobile devices are smartphones (Kellogg, 2011) and IMS research (2011) expects 1 billion in 2016. Smartphones with AR is for the near future and advances in programming are constant so a program to help the average teacher may be available in the near future.

To support social-constructivist principles, the AR could be used to deliver a highly interactive AR hunt with the environment and cultural artifacts stimulating learning. Similar to AR browsing at the Powerhouse museum, the idea would be to use GPS coordinates to provide information about the environment around the user and the camera to identify specific objects. The teacher would need to nominate objects around the classroom, secondary school, or local area that fit with a cultural element. Students would be interacting with the physical environment and discovering cultural and linguistic information along the way. Follow-up activities are needed to consolidate the AR hunt by promoting dialogue, stimulating reflection, and/or text productions around the linguistic and cultural elements they interacted with (Gould, 2005).

Within this examples, students are actively learning and constructing knowledge based on their AR experiences. The smartphone and AR shouldn’t be considered as the pedagogy, rather the medium of learning. Pedagogy is what happens in reality around the augmented reality and is needed to meet learner needs (Kaufmann, n.d.). But these experiences come with a large price tag attached to the phones and to the preparation required from the teacher. Teachers must not make assumptions that all secondary students will have access to smartphones, nor the digital fluency required to seamlessly move between the AR and the real learning activity. Teachers must be prepared to use smartphones in their classrooms with very careful analysis and be prepared to justify its inclusion to possibly skeptical administrators, parents, colleagues and students.

Gould, J. S. (2005). A Constructivist Perspective on Teaching and Learning in the Language Arts In Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

IMS Research (2011, July 27). Global Smartphones Sales Will Top 420 Million Devices in 2011, According to IMS Research. Retrieved September 9, 2011 from http://imsresearch.com/press-release/Global_Smartphones_Sales_Will_Top_420_Million_Devices_in_2011_Taking_28_Percent_of_all_Handsets_According_to_IMS_Research

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K. (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Kaufmann, H. (n.d.). Collaborative Augmented Reality in Education. Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.ims.tuwien.ac.at/media/documents/publications/Imagina-AR_EducationPaper.pdf

Kellogg, D. (2011, September 1). 40 Percent of U.S. Mobile Users Own Smartphones. Retrieved September 9, 2011 from  http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/40-percent-of-u-s-mobile-users-own-smartphones-40-percent-are-android/

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