June 14, 2010

Augmented Reality Is Helpful To Be Less Helpful

The app in the video above shows how augmented reality can help give you the answers to a Soduko quiz in your local newspaper. You can also ask it just to give you a hint. Now, imagine that this device, primed for heating, were constrained to solely giving you the interesting question, the clue or hint. We begin to see how augmented reality contributes towards Dan's mantra of "be less helpful" to make learning better.

Can you imagine holding the app over a French language text or physics problem and getting that little contextual nudge that great teachers have always offered? What would that free the teacher up to do? How could it add to the learning experience in homes where parents take less of an interest in (the learning of) their children?

Tip of the hat to my favourite polymath, Noah Brier.


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What would be better and is not often explored in iphone or other smart phone apps is the power to suggest learning strategies. To have a link to somewhere where various solutions could be crowdsourced and demonstrated. The trick, I think would be to make the ability to provide exemplars as trivial as the example above e.g. a cross between http://screenr.com/ and new HD video on iPhones that take you through the process or allow you to interact with others. Those models are out there for gamers and they build their own communities of learning like water finding its own level - not everyone will be able to do that but wouldn't it be wonderful if they could have access to that? It is about how you create community and value around the problem needing to be solved. If you are interested in pedagogy and how it can be delivered online then more and more apps that enable this and through open HTML5 the better in the future. How to make it simple and trivial and easily shared, replicated and worked through is the key. Apps that crowdsource in this way are rare still.

This kind of technology is amazing! I'm a parent, a former maths teacher and now a new blogger who wants to help nonspecialist parents support their child's maths learning. I agree that there are some parents who "take less of an interest in (the learning of) their children" but many parents just underestimate their ability to help their children (especially at high school level). This kind of app could be the "invisible tutor" so that children and parents can share in the learning experience.
I'm also a language learner (arabic) and would be the first to use this in a language learning context as you suggested.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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