According to Matt Dunleavy, assistant professor of instructional technology at Radford University, augmented reality is the future of education. Augmented reality refers to an experience in which a live, physical environment is enhanced by computer-generated content. Company co-founder Daniel Burgess explains, “FreshAir is a web-based editing platform we developed for users to be able to take their smartphones, walk into an environment, and have a totally new experience.”
The team at LEARN NC recently took the technology for a test drive. Equipped with seven smartphones—both Android and iOS models—Dunleavy and Burgess led LEARN NC staff to McCorkle Place for a live demonstration. The sample program highlights three UNC-Chapel Hill landmarks: Davie Poplar, Silent Sam, and the Unsung Founders Memorial. At present, FreshAir relies on GPS navigation systems and Google Maps integration to identify where a user is located. As users approach the first stop on the virtual tour, the phones vibrate to signal an area in which an augmented reality experience is available.
Information about all three preloaded sites is informative and enriching. For example, a user can stand in front of Davie Poplar while using FreshAir to view a picture of the historic tree as it stood in 1900. Users also learn about the complex and controversial histories of Silent Sam and the Unsung Founders Memorial through videos and recorded narration. Teachers and professors can add content for an unlimited number of sites world-wide.
Using FreshAiR with your students
- Students can tour their school/campus guided by teacher-loaded content.
- Students can create their own content for use within the app.
- The platform promotes kinesthetic learning and engages students.
- Teachers can assess students’ acquired knowledge through in-app quizzes.
- Advanced gaming features using conditions and logic allow for more complicated tasks and scaffolding.
Developed at Radford University, funding for the FreshAiR platform was provided through a research and development program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The platform has been tested as far away as China and will be available as a downloadable app on Google Play and App Store markets in the coming weeks.
Read the article “Montgomery County students seek to ‘augment’ reality” to see an example of how teachers use FreshAir to enhance student learning.