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Augmented reality in education

2013  |  


imagen AR eTwinning finalDuring the last 2013 eTwinning Conference held in Lisbon, we had the opportunity to attend the presentation on the use of Augmented Reality (AR) in the classroom of Hendriel Exel, an eTwinning ambassadress and specialist teacher in Information and Communication Technologies at Oostvaarders College, Almere (Holland). We have decided to take the information presented by this ambassadress as a reference and to look more deeply into some aspects which can help us to take our first steps in this technology in the classroom.




Augmented reality can be defined as a combination of digital information and physical information in real time using technological devices. The difference, therefore, with virtual information is that the virtual data do not replace the physical ones, but are superimposed on them in different formats (computer generated images, video sequences, animations, etc.).

Let’s see an example of a video animation shown at the Conference:


These resources can be very useful in the classroom to incorporate interactive and motivating elements into learning and be able to make tangible many of the complex concepts from determined areas using 3D images, photographs, geospatial positioning tools, and the incorporation and exploitation of virtual scenarios in class, etc. In short they permit us to provide the student with much more meaningful learning which is nearer to the real experience.

During the Conference in Lisbon we were able to see the following modalities of augmented reality:

  Augmented reality using markers

 Augmented reality using geo-positioning

 Augmented reality using QR codes




To produce this type of augmented reality we need a computer, webcam and specialized software. The process consists in associating a 3D image, video or animation to a marker printed using specific software. When the marker passes by the webcam the virtual layer it contains is activated. If we change the perspective of the marker, the virtual objects orient themselves towards the new viewpoint like a three-dimensional hologram. This type of augmented reality is increasingly present on the new videogame platforms with the aim of providing the user with a new game experience using portable consoles.

To create the objects we can use free 3D modelling programmes like SketchUP or Blender, qwhich will permit us to save the objects with the standard .dae format.

To create an Augmented Reality project on an original base like OpenSource, ARtoolkit requires certain programming knowledge, but instead there are other free options for the educational community which permit us to develop these projects in a simple and intuitive manner:

In Spain, we have the Aumentaty, company which reduces the process to three steps: importing the file generated using its Aumentaty Author tool (it accepts 3DMAX, SKETCHUP, ACAD, and Maya formats), selecting a marker and associating the element we have imported. Finally we have to export to .atx and view and share it with the Aumentaty Viewer tool. 

We wanted to try out this tool and the image that appears at the top of this article is really an AR marker which has an associated 3D image of our eTwinning logo, we are including what it shows as it can only be viewed with the Aumentaty viewer:

imagen visor AR eTwinning

  Other similar tools are:

  The following examples were presented at the Conference:


A system of open code augmented reality markers (Goblin XNA) developed by the University of Colombia which permits the superposition of a virtual object (3D image, video) on these markers. We recommend you visit the ARtag page to see examples of its gallery of images of markers and where they explain how to download the applications and the examples.

A video tutorial was included on the LearnAR application. This consists of ten programmes aimed at the classroom which permit you to experiment with real and virtual contents with the help of a web camera. It includes resources for the areas of mathematics, sciences, anatomy, physics, geometry, physical education and languages. We include the video:


Other interesting links:

http://www.learnar.org/ (information and tutorials)

http://www.exelleren.nl/AR/Sponholtzproductionschemie.pdf (examples to print)



imagen_movilThese are applications which integrate AR and GPS technology, continuous visual search (CVS) and mapping (SLAM). These are what are known as urban management technologies in so-called smart cities. These applications offer the user a framework of interaction with the urban system from their location at a determined point. Using the camera in their mobile device, the user can obtain the physical image of the place and a superposition of virtual layers of information which show them in real time different data on nearby establishments, the history of the surroundings, events, etc.



Let’s see the most popular applications in this context:

Layar app

A free application for users of (Android, IOS) mobile technology which uses GPS to locate our exact position and superimposes virtual information according to the direction in which the camera of our mobile device is pointing.


A free application for users (Android, IOS) which permits locating any place in the city using a series of filters arranged by categories and presents a considerable improvement on usual GPS systems which simply offer movement to the destination point and all the necessary information to reach it.


This is a free application for users (Android, IOS) with functions similar to those of Junaio


Location and positioning system similar to the previous ones cited with regard to functions but significantly better with regard to precision in the adjustment of the layers of information.


This is a platform which generates content and permits us to create layers of augmented reality for Layar type applications. To use this service it is necessary to register in augmentation.hoppala.eu where we will obtain a url necessary for the Layar application (API).


The initials QR refer to a 'quick response' code. This is a two-dimensional code in the form of a square in which different alphanumeric information can be stored which can be viewed later with a QR reader installed in a mobile device

These were initially used to record spare parts in the area of vehicle manufacture and to manage inventories in industry. The possibility of having software to read the QR code in mobile telephones and other devices with the possibility to capture images (scanner, camera) has diversified the use of these codes as a resource for embedding addresses and URLs in magazines and advertisements, as well as for collecting personal data on contacts, replacing the typical business card, sending hidden messages or downloading a programme.

To associate the information to a QR code we need a web application which permits us to introduce information and transform it into the code. Here are some examples:

QR Stuff

This permits the generation of QR codes on URL of web sites, coming from Youtube, Dropbox, and social networks. It also permits personalization of the colour of the QR it generates.

QR Hacker

This includes more options for editing and personalizing than the former one, and you can include images, modify colours by pixel etc.


This creates QR codes with a special design. It also allows you to embed in the code messages of up to 255 characters. Let’s see an example created with this tool. The QR links to our promotional eTwinning video in Youtube.

qr video eTwinning

As you can see, the QR code is an encrypted two-dimensional code. To read or interpret a QR code you need a device with a camera and a compatible reader. The three large squares in the corners permit the reader in your mobile device to detect the position of the code. You can find different readers in the Internet which are capable of reading and interpreting these codes. It all depends on the operating system in your cell phone. We include some of the best known ones for the different operating systems:

Barcode Scanner for Android and Symbian devices

I-nigma for IOS and Windows Mobile and Symbian devices

We are including the link to a blog with a variety of examples of augmented reality in the classroom We hope that some of these examples will serve as an inspiration for your future eTwinning projects.



Source of the images: eTwinning National Support Service


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