People have been searching for creatures and running down their phone batteries this month since Pokémon Go was released.
Is there any connection of this technology to education, Ken? Let's see.
First off, Pokémon Go is a smartphone game that uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon creatures appear around you on the screen. The objective is to go and catch them.
This combination of a game and the real world interacting is known as augmented reality (AR). AR is often confused with VR - virtual reality. VR creates a totally artificial environment, while augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.
The term augmented reality goes back to 1990 and a Boeing researcher, Thomas Caudell, who used it to describe the use of head-mounted displays by electricians assembling complicated wiring harnesses.
A commercial applications of AR technology that most people have seen is the yellow "first down" line that we see on televised football games which, of course, is not on the actual field.
Google Glass and the displays called "heads-up" in car windshields are another consumer AR application. there are many more uses of the technology in industries like healthcare, public safety, gas and oil, tourism and marketing.
Back to the game... My son played the card game and handheld video versions 20 years ago, so I had a bit of Pokémon education. I read that it is based on the hobby of bug catching which is apparently popular in Japan, where the games originated. Like bug catching or birding, the goal is to capture actual bugs or virtual birds and Pokémon creatures and add them to your life list. The first generation of Pokémon games began with 151 creatures and has expanded to 700+, but so far only the original 151 are available in the Pokémon Go app.
I have seen a number of news reports about people doing silly, distracted things while playing the game, along with more sinister tales of people being lured by someone via a creature or riding a bike or driving while playing. (The app has a feature to try to stop you using from it while moving quickly, as in a car.)
Thinking about educational applications for the game itself doesn't yield anything for me. Although it does require you to explore your real-world environment, the objective is frivolous. So, what we should consider is the use of VR in education beyond the game, while appreciating that the gaming aspect of the app is what drives its appeal and should be used as a motivator for more educational uses.
The easiest use of VR in college classrooms is to make use of the apps already out there in industries. Students in an engineering major should certainly be comfortable with understanding and using VR from their field. In the illustration above, software (metaio Engineer) allows someone to see an overlay visualization of future facilities within the current environment. Another application can be having work and maintenance instructions directly appear on a component when it is viewed.
Augmented reality can be a virtual world, even a MMO game. The past year we have heard more about virtual reality and VR headsets and goggles (like Oculus Rift) which are more immersive, but also more awkward to use.This immersiveness is an older concept and some readers may recall the use of the term "telepresence.”
Telepresence referred to a set of technologies which allowed a person to feel as if they were present, or to to give the appearance of being present, or to have some impact at place other than their true location. Telerobotics does this, but more commonly it was the move from videotelephony to videoconferencing. Those applications have been around since the end of the last century and we have come a god way forward from traditional videoconferencing to doing it with hand-held mobile devices, enabling collaboration independent of location.
In education, we experimented with these applications and with the software for MMOs, mirror worlds, augmented reality, lifelogging, and products like Second Life. Pokémon Go is Second Life but now there is no avatar to represent us. We are in the game and the game is the world around us, augmented as needed. The world of the game is the world.
If you look across all mobile platforms, nearly 90% all app store downloads this year will be free apps.
Add to that information from a report from Gartner that says that 90 percent of the apps that users pay for will cost less than $3. The report, "Market Trends: Mobile App Stores, Worldwide, 2012."
App downloads in 2011 were at the 24.94 billion mark from Google Play/Android Market, the Apple App Store, and others. Of those, 88.4 percent (about 22 billion) were for free apps, while about 2.9 billion were for paid apps.
This year? The forecast is for 83% growth with annual growth projected at 50 to 79 percent each year through 2016.
What does this mean for educators? As mobile continues to move into classrooms, sometimes only because students bring it there, we will find ourselves using more and more free and cheap apps rather than traditional, expensive software.
That makes money available from school budgets and from students' budgets that could be used in other ways. It also open the door to using more mobile technology without considering software cost as a critical factor.
Read more: Free Apps To Make Up 89 Percent of Mobile Downloads This Year
That's not surprising. It took longer to get computers and then the Internet into classrooms than all the prognosticators were saying 25 years ago.
Students, especially at the higher levels, are bringing their own devices to class. That's enough of a trend in itself that a search on BYOD will turn up lots of results. As is often the case with technology, the business world has already been dealing with BYOD issues (such as usage policies) before schools gave it any serious thought. BYOD has a Wikipedia entry too, so it's official.
Students bringing their own technology (smartphones, tablets, and laptops) is moving down from higher ed to K-12 education. The model has always been that schools provided the technology that students would need. Some of that tech "funding" is being passed on to students and parents without schools even asking via the BYOD trend. This has also reduced a school's responsibility for support and upgrades.
But one thing that hasn't changed much in 25 years is deciding what software should be used. Schools or teachers still have most of the control over content and oftentimes that also means the software.
In 1990, there may have been dozens of software titles in an academic area and it was difficult to preview, review and test them. With the rise of apps on mobile devices, there are hundreds or thousands of titles to sift through to find ones with good educational uses.
Most educators don't have the time to go through the process. More and more, textbook companies drive adoption by bundling software with textbooks. Hopefully, educators can begin to use the filters, curation and recommendations of peers aided by sites (and even apps) and contribute their own reviews for others.
I find many more sites with a K-12 focus rather than higher ed, so far. Here are a few samples:
IEAR- I Education Apps Review - reviews on apps, schools spreadsheets of Apps, student reviews
SNapps4Kids these reviews have an embedded list of skills that are addressed in the app (very important in K-12's world of objectives and assessment
Scoop it- Recommended Educational App Lists - on this site you can join or just look at the reviews
Apps in Education - a blog that includes apps for music, math, English, special needs and more
App Advice is interesting because it is a website and also an app itself. The appadvice app is $1.99.
Have you found other reliable sources?
There are many free apps that can be used in the classroom. You have to be a creative teacher to use elementary apps effectively with students too young to have phones, but teachers are using iPads and tablets in classrooms and sometimes even getting parents to use apps on their own devices at home. Here are some via techlearning.com. Some are free. Some are free versions of apps that are available at a cost but are available in free lite versions (some may have ads).
Basic Math - This app offers basic operations of math with choices. It allows teachers to see student’s score and email results to parents.
Mad Math Lite - If your classroom has limited iPads, this app allows you to have more than one user. In addition, it enables you to set the student’s setting depending what operation they are working on. This app records a report card on the student’s progress.
Coins Genius - This app is a good introduction to coins. It is limited in the free version, but it does give you a chance to see if this would be a good tool for your class.
Calculator Pro - A standard calculator in vertical mode and a scientific calculator in landscape mode.
EaselAlgebra ilite - Easel combines interactive, hands-on algebra workbooks with instant "ShowMe" lessons. If you get stuck on a problem, just tap "ShowMe" and see a step-by-step animation of how to solve the problem.
HMH-Fuse Geometry- A completely self-contained, interactive curriculum on the iPad.
Elementary Language Arts
My Spelling Test - Create your own spelling tests with your weekly words. Students can
test themselves. Allows students to see what words they got right and wrong. Teachers can track student’s work to make sure they stay on level.
ABC Phonics sigh words - Uses the DOLCH spelling words. The app has flashcards, drag and spell, and unscramble.
Wordweb Dictionary - The WordWeb English dictionary and thesaurus: fast searching, spelling suggestions, definitions, usage examples, synonyms, related words - and no ads
Free ebooks - Download app, then join for free. Download five free books a month.
Paperdesk lite - Leave behind your paper notebook for your next class lecture or meeting. PaperDesk is a simple notebook replacement made for the iPad. The design goal behind PaperDesk was to mimic, as closely as possible, a simple pad of paper with no unnecessary frills.
Spanish Tutor 24/7 - Goes
beyond the simple talking phrasebook or flashcard programs, providing a set of interactive study tools that helps users learn Spanish. Also available for French: French Tutor 24/7.
Sign Language - How to fingerspell words, numbers, express basic sentences, idioms and learn about deaf culture.
(Free/ Full Version $1.99) Helps children develop desirable behaviors by working towards tangible goals. Choose a behavior for the child. Do not interrupt for 15 minutes during a 45-minute class period. Student then takes a picture of what he or she wants, such as computer time. The picture is broken down into puzzle pieces. Each time the student is successful, he or she adds another piece. Upon completion of the puzzle student receives an award. The app is good for all ages.
ireward $4.99 A motivational tool for iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Create a star chart or token board to help reinforce positive behaviors using visual rewards. This type of praise or approval will help parents of typically developing children, children with autism, developmental delays, ADHD, and anxiety disorders.
Homeroutines $3.99 This app can be customized for any age. Create routine checklists, then complete them on chosen days of the week, with reminder notifications, and a gold star for each completed task. Checklists can automatically reset.
Alarmed-reminder timersFree Pop up reminder alerts. Includes 80 custom sounds, Nag me for auto repeating. Great for students to help remind them when they need to bring something to school.
ADHD organizer $1.99 Lets users set goals and record their success. Includes a memory bank section for thing frequently forgotten.
Audio-notes recorder $2.99 Record notes and export by email. Great for students who need to remember something without having to write it down.
Event Countdown $1.99 This is great for students who need to keep track of assignments. App shows remaining days, hours and minutes until the date.
Vicki has also posted about useful apps for assessment.
Stanford has released the iOS 5 version of their "iPhone Application Development" on iTunes U. You can download course lectures and slides for free. The obvious audience is students of all ages interested in developing apps, but if you are teaching or planning to teach such a course yourself, it would make sense to take a look.
Stanford offered an iPhone apps course online in 2009 and it made some history by scoring a million downloads in its first seven weeks. The instructor is Paul Hegarty and he teaches students how to program apps for iPads and iPhones. It is the most popular download on
Stanford's iTunes U site, with more than 10 million views.
It is no small task to learn to create apps. Unofficial prerequisites: If you are unfamiliar with Apple's operating systems, you need to learn Objective-C. If you were a Stanford student, you would have taken a year of computer science classes and had object-oriented programming before taking the apps course. Two Stanford prerequisite courses, Programming Methodology and Programming Abstractions, are also available on iTunes U.