Blended Learning, College faculty, Continuing Education, Education Quality, Feature, Flipped Classrooms, International, Private education, Public education, Required, Students, Technology, University & College - Written by on Saturday, December 3, 2011 11:07 - 0 Comments

Augmenting Reality: A Dutch Edu-Caching Experiment Visits Florence, Italy

by Martin Gommel via Flickr under CreativeCommons

By Paul Glader

BERLIN – At Online Educa on Friday we listened to a couple presenters talk about their projects with mobile apps. The idea for edu-caching and augmented reality is an increasingly interesting area in the U.S. and abroad.

Fred de Vries, from the Open University of the Netherlands and the Center for Learning Sciences and Technologies (, spoke about an experiment of having a class of older “Cultural Science” students use Android-equipped phones to do field research. For example, a class went to Florence, Italy, after studying the art of Florence for months in online classes… and experienced augmented reality as part of their field research.

Live in Florence, the students used their phones in a geo-caching kind of manner to walk around Florence, find the museums and art work, checking in as they arrived and recording their observations and impressions instead of writing down their notes.

“Normally, a tutor would walk around Florence and show everything,” said Prof. de Vries. “The change we made here is that instead of having the 20 students walking together. We gave each of them a smart phone and send them alone in Florence to do their work…. When student reaches a building, he gets an assignment by audio… Students are not so bothered by the equipment. They can focus on the rich environment around them…Once they are at the location, they can do their own observation by making audio notes…They use a smart phone to make web pictures…When the student gets back from trip and is working on an essay, they can use their field work and notes.”

de Vries and his team tried the experiment a month ago and once in 2010. He said students prefer the phone navigation system to a paper map. They said the students gave high marks to the geo-caching method of field research. He said the quality of essays was higher for the ARlearn students (with the phones) than from those who attended traditional field research trips. The technology allowed them more freedom as well as richer engagement in the research.

The tutor was sitting in a café drinking coffee and watching on a laptop of how the students were moving in Florence. If students were having difficulty, he would call them or text or email to guide them.

de Vries gave the following tips:

  • Keep the assignments simple, not too complex
  • Choose a location for fieldwork with proper GPS reception
  • Give students a day to get acquainted with how the GPS and smartphone works
  • Battery Life – make sure the phone batteries don’t run out during fieldwork.

In the future, de Vries said the Open University of the Netherlands is considering having students go to Florence on their own for this kind of field work. They believe these methods could be used in other classes and training settings.

Link: Open University of the Netherlands

ARlearn Description 
And a video showing more about Augmented Reality…

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