Webinar Q&A | Augment This! Augmented Reality as Part of Your Learning Strategy

By on February 6th, 2018 in Managed Learning Services

As learning professionals, we’re hearing about the realities more every day: virtual, augmented, and mixed. But what do we really need to know to make informed decisions on their use? Augmented reality (AR) is a content delivery method that not only makes sense, but also has a shorter learning curve.

During a recent webinar, I discussed the basics of AR: what it is and how it works, how it fits into the strategy with some practical use cases, and how you can get started building your skills using one of a few low-cost tools.

If you missed the webinar, a recording is now available for you to watch online. By the end, you will see how to incorporate AR as a powerful tool in your toolbox and have action items to get started. If you are looking for the abbreviated version, I wanted to offer a quick look at some of the key takeaways:

  • AR is an excellent learning technology add for serving up contextual microLearning nuggets for in-the-moment, just-what-I-need performance support. Get in, get what I need, and get on with it.
  • AR is not ideal for audiences who have access to their PC where they do their work. Consider other delivery methods.
  • There are some low-cost tools that are as simple to learn as our rapid course development software tools (Zappar and Layar). A simple AR page interaction is developed in much the same way as a course page, though lower-cost, off-the-shelf AR development tools are not quite as sophisticated.
  • Consider where you will gather, create, or curate your content from. Does much of it already exist? If yes, great! If no, you need to consider traditional artifact development timelines in addition to the build of your AR experience.
  • Pilot, pilot, pilot. Start small and plan an AR experience for a select audience. Get their reaction to the content you serve up, the form factor they used, and how you communicated where and how to access the AR experience. Get smarter for round two before you go big.

After the presentation, several great questions came up from the audience and I wanted to share them with you. Below are those questions and my best answers. This is an ongoing conversation, and I encourage you to keep the questions coming in via the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Q: How much does an AR solution cost?

A: Like other tools in the toolbox, cost varies significantly by what you plan to do. Most off-the-shelf providers have either a subscription model, for which a seat license is paid to create AR experiences, or a per-AR-page flat fee that licenses the use of the page for a given time. Other off-the-shelf providers have tools that perform more sophisticated actions, and those typically have a multiple order-of-magnitude-higher seat license arrangement. At the top of the spectrum, there are consulting firms that build AR experiences; they use proprietary tools and specialized programming skills.

Q: Can you describe what a WYSIWYG is?

A: Great question and a good reminder to back off jargon in our sessions. 🙂 WYSIWYG = What You See Is What You Get. These tools allow me to drag and drop icons, links, and artifacts directly over top of my AR marker or trigger image. What I see is what I will get when I publish and test. I am actually seeing what the work will look like—think Storyline or Articulate Presenter. No direct coding required.

Q: Can you tell us more detail about storyboarding the experience?

A: For AR experiences, when we develop the learning journey for our people, whether it’s an ILT curriculum or a web-based experience, we’ll want to storyboard the AR from both content and serve-up perspectives; these can be interwoven, but let’s review each one separately for the purpose of our discussion.

  • Content storyboarding: What content will I include and why, what’s its purpose, and what should trigger its availability?
  • Serve-up storyboarding: What iconography, labels, or other visual cues will I add onto your stage to launch certain artifacts? What will they look like, and where will they appear on the stage? Where will they launch when the learner interacts with them? Full stage or part? Will it link them to another resource, or will the AR tool host your content (think InfoSec requirements here), and will the learner be prompted for credentials? This can interrupt your learner experience, so it needs to be well thought through.

Q: What is the best novice learner app to start with? AR Creator?

A: I started with Layar and it took a few hours to sort it out, and about 3 hours to create the augmented business card that I shared in the webinar. I have also built in ZapWorks, which is not unlike learning Captivate and then Storyline. When I began, I knew the features; I just had to sort out how they worked in one tool versus the other.

Lastly, if you will be at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions conference in Orlando in March, come join my BYOL session (315) and I will walk you through your first simple AR project! Fun stuff!

Ann Rollins

Ann Rollins

Looking for the Connections

I LOVE MY JOB! The process of untying difficult knots for my clients, and getting better with each repetition thrills me. I take the skills and knowledge learned with each rep on to the next challenge, becoming a quicker study, agile problem navigator, and solver. However, I wasn’t always this way.

How exactly did I get here?

My evolution from instructional design order-taker to bigger system thinker (about many things, not just instructional design) began on October 3, 2000. My charmed life was shattered in a moment while my family was on what should have been the vacation of a lifetime. On day 3, my father died of sudden cardiac death a mile offshore, while scuba diving with my mother in Barbados. He was only 55. He. Was. Healthy. Any sudden death is traumatic, but an emergency at sea in a third world country adds a dimension of horror that thankfully most will never experience. There is plenty more to the story, bad and good, but that is for another time.

I slept-walked through the months that followed, trying to make any sense of how and why it happened. When the fog finally lifted, I spent so much time rethinking the last months, looking for the connections, and I struggled because I couldn’t make sense of it all. I felt like I was in my own darker Groundhog Day film: wake, grieve, rinse, repeat. In that experience, my problem solving acumen evolved. I learned that looking across a situation and revisiting an experience over time, while it may not change what is, allows me to search for, plan and change what is next. You see, humans typically try to problem solve by focusing primarily on changing what is. Sometimes, you simply can’t change what is. Death taught me that lesson about non-negotiables. And her lesson helps me solve problems much more effectively today.

When we experience a singular event, our brains are hard-wired to make sense of it, to fix it. As new information comes in, and we are presented with new problems or challenges; our brains quickly make the associations, and then connections to create the jump needed to assess and respond in better, more effective ways with each pass. This is closely related to how I approach the business problems that our clients bring to us. Their challenges are real; they have problems that they cannot solve. These problems are costing them money and mindshare; they hurt. When they bring these problems to us, our job is to look at the problem, and revisit similar challenges that we have seen in the past. When we revisit situations that have some commonality (because they all do, frankly), we evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what tools should be at the forefront of our options for solutions for them.

I’d like to think of my own experience with all of my clients as a network that gets bigger and bigger with time. Client industries, size, and tenure with GP Strategies all vary, but we shouldn’t use those imaginary “partitions” that separate one from the next to keep us from thinking across the wide span of solutions that we’ve provided to our clients. However, in order for my network to grow as fast as I want it to, I need to keep my head up, and constantly survey what is happening with my peers and counterparts on other projects. Like my network of clients and projects, I also have a network of peers that I have forged and nurtured during my five years at GP Strategies, and a network of folks outside who have traveled my career journey with me. I regularly reach out to get new thoughts on my ideas, brainstorm with people in different capacities, collaborate in different ways, and allow those experiences to pull me out of my comfortable ID space and into others. I want to know what they see, because with each additional “rep” we can make our work better, and solve client problems faster and in more innovative, creative ways.

I hope you enjoy the resources below, and look forward to connecting with you! Become part of my network on Twitter: @AnnibabyCan
Ann Rollins
2 comments on “Webinar Q&A | Augment This! Augmented Reality as Part of Your Learning Strategy
  1. Ann, what a heart felt and personal comment to a great article. We are a small family business looking to be creative and innovative. We have been experimenting with IR and cakes for a while. Many of our clients are the big corporates, Google, Samsung GSK etc. The vision we have is to use branded cupcakes as a trigger for learning. So at a training session cupcakes are given out at the break, when scanned they attendee can watch a summary video, download the presentation etc. Our issue has been to date most solutions require first downloading a native app (this is fast becoming a step too far). We want a web based IR solution. Are you aware of such a thing, or do we have to build our own?

  2. Ann Rollins says:

    Well hello, Graham,

    It was great to hear from you. I was on vacation, so I apologize for the brief hold 🙂 Your inquiry is like an equation – there are definitely two parts to the whole. Here are my thoughts on each:

    The Native App Conundrum:
    Downloading a native app is definitely a barrier that we see with our clients, and we’re working through that as well. Even with the large mobile platform providers working feverishly on their SDKs, they will still require either an app or a specific platform to access those rich augmented experiences.

    Web-based AR technologies are available, but they are in the very early stages of development and I wouldn’t consider them a viable solution, not yet; stay tuned on that. My partner at GP, Tom Pizer, indicates that when the tools are ready, specialized developer skills would be required (js) to create the experience you are hoping for. He also indicated that only targets of the very highest quality would work. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll need to content ourselves with commercial offerings, and native apps, for now.

    NDAs, InfoSec and Access, Oh My!
    On the other side of the equation is the client content that would be served up, sweetly, like your cupcakes. Depending on the client and the content, you’d likely be looking at content that could be classified as low-, mid- or high-business impact were it to be made openly available, so InfoSec concerns could be a gating issue, depending on the client and the content. Whomever hosts the content is responsible for protecting its security and access.

    I’d almost see your incorporation of AR onto your cupcakes as an additional productized offering, whereby, if London Cakes creates and hosts it, your contracting would need to include some NDA language if you aren’t already covered already. In that same spirit, for your larger clients, you would need to have a hosting plan that would satisfy your client’s IT credentialing process.

    I think I created more questions than answers. I’d love to hear what next steps you all take; it could certainly be an elegant and delectable solution once the technology evolves a bit more. Keep us posted and let us know if we can help!

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