Way back in March, I posted a little throwaway comment somewhere that I might do some learning design for English teachers to incorporate augmented reality into the classroom. Quick summary, augmented reality applications, or AR, are very commonly used by many of us in the form of things like QR scanners, Google Image Translate, or Pokemon Go.
What’s AR in English Language Learning?
Back then it was March and frankly I think we all thought this would be over a little sooner. Then the tsunami of work that was pivoting to emergency remote learning to support our students. However, now that the dust has settled, I’ve had a little time to work on the overall concept. What AR looks like in English language teaching, was then the puzzle that really had to be solved.
I’ve been interested in how English teachers might use AR ever since I saw Paul Driver’s award nominated ARM Cubes in 2015. Having students scroll over an interactive video as a way to create narratives was captivating, and clearly engaging and motivating for the learners.
However, when I experimented with the technology, while overall it didn’t take too long to learn, I felt that for many teachers, the amount of work and effort required to create and use AR in the classroom made it impractical for many. Fortunately, there are a lot of dedicated teachers who are still exploring ways to make creating Augmented Reality Learning Experiences (ARLEs) more accessible to technology users.
I began thinking this through in my practical learning designer way, and I wondered if it might be possible to create a fun, engaging learning experience using an augmented reality application that already existed. Or, can I use AR without having to learn to build AR myself?
BBC Civilisations AR
Enter, the BBC Civilisations AR application. This is a fun little app, showcases history, engages with three aspects of communication (reading, speaking, and listening), and is very stable, functional and easy to use. The fact that it is ad free and works on even older models of Android phones makes it the perfect choice for an AR informed English language learning experience.
And so, I would like to introduce the first in a five part learning experience in which English language learners move from talking about an application, to using the AR application in a way that creates a meaningful language learning experience.
The key challenge in the first lesson is overcoming the “WOW” factor. Trust me, this app is exciting, but after about four minutes, without a little direction, the app may not do much more than be a bright spot in a dull lesson. In planning this learning sequence, I want to make sure that the application is at the front of the learning experience. In order to do this, I’ve incorporated some of the best practices in 21st Century learning pedagogies into the experience to ensure that the application is integral not secondary to the learning.
To help guide teachers to use the BBC Civilisations application I’ve written a series of detailed walk-throughs that any teacher can use, along with the free application, to bring AR into their English language classroom.
This learning experience includes worksheets. Don’t print worksheets. Don’t even give PDFs to your students. Have the students recreate the worksheet in an online collaborative document like Goolge Docs.
The storyboard worksheet is pretty small. Students don’t need to use it. Have students review the worksheet, and then create their own in an online document or slides program.
This lesson could work with a variety of learners with scaffolding; however it is most appropriate for A2+/B1 (GSE40-50) learners, as the target language and overall communicative complexity of the lesson is more suitable for pre-intermediate students.
Using BBC Civilisations AR Application in the English Language Classroom
Part 1 of 5