The learning space is changing; just-in-time learning demands are on the rise as the workforce evolves and organizations aim to decrease employees’ time to productivity. As learning professionals, we need to adapt and create learning solutions that are composed of agile content that helps build job-related experiences. That’s where new technologies for learning, like augmented reality (AR), come into play. AR allows us to incorporate digital media and information into learners’ environments in real time. It is gaining momentum in the learning space for its ability to support learning at the moment of need. However, there are misconceptions that AR projects are complex, difficult to create, and costly, and those who are interested in using the technology have no idea how to get started.
During a recent GP Strategies webinar, I shared best practices to follow when designing your own AR learning experiences and provided links to four low-cost AR solutions.
If you missed the webinar, a recording is now available for you to watch online. But if you’re looking for the abbreviated version, I wanted to offer a quick look at some of the key takeaways:
- Define the learning goal/learning experience.
- Content is king. Focus on the content, not the technology.
- AR is a good tool to contextualize curated content.
- Design for the small screen.
- Challenge your learners mentally, not physically.
After the presentation, several great questions came up from the audience—so many that we could not address them in the scheduled time. 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: What are the optimal sizes for images and videos?
A: The best video size is 320×240. Layar has a good support post on creating your videos and using the video widget in Layar. Read it here.
Q: Costs per page: In the example Myra provided with her resume, do the interactive elements equate to 3 pages and 3.50 per page once published?
A: For the Layar app, only your target is counted as a page, not the elements that you add to the page. This means that you can have one target with 10 digital assets associated with it and you pay for one page. However, adding 10 digital assets goes against designing for the small screen. You don’t want to overload your learners with a ton of digital assets on one page.
Q: Does this work for standard computer resolution – not designing for small screen?
A: AR uses a technology known as “interactive print.” Interactive print is similar to facial recognition. AR targets are created using a laptop or desktop; learners interact with the target using their smartphone or tablet. When the AR app is pointed at an AR target, the app scans the target and calls out to the AR authoring tool server to see if there are any digital assets associated with the target.
This means that your target is an element that exists in the physical world, for example, a poster, a large banner, a printed job aid, a photograph, a car logo, etc. So, when I say design for the small screen, I don’t mean to that you need to scale down your target. I mean you need to make sure that the digital assets you associate with the target are large enough for the user to interact with and view on the small screen.
Q: Is Layar content always public? Can you create passwords or use other ways to restrict your target audience?
A: The Layar content isn’t always public. You can control who can view your content by restricting who is aware that the chosen target is augmented. This would actually make a fun Easter egg hunt in an employee engagement scenario, but I digress. The learners would need to first know what targets have been augmented and which AR app to use to access the content.
Q: What locations would be suitable for me to host my augmented reality assets?
A: Great question. Assets such as images are uploaded to the AR app directly. Videos and audio can be hosted on sites such as YouTube, Video, a personal server, or your organization’s extranet. I don’t recommend adding assets that require a login, unless you plan to add some additional element of engagement.
Q: What firewall or IT security should I take into account?
A: Since learners can BYOD (bring your own device) and use their own data to engage, there should be no firewall or IT security issues—you just need to make sure that the digital assets are hosted in areas that are accessible. However, if the learner connects to the organization’s Wi-Fi when using the AR app, you should ensure that whatever digital assets you are using (specifically links) are not blocked. So, PLAN, TEST, EDIT.
Q: What is the lowest level of effort needed to start a project?
A: This is a great question. I shared a very simple example, where I overlaid content that I curated over my visual resume. The target and all the content were assets that I had created for other reasons. You can use content that you have already created and use AR as a wrapper to add for your curated content. Think of your target as the main point and the digital assets as supporting elements that help build the story.
Q: Myra said at the start that AR created an enhanced experience. What exactly do you mean by enhanced experience? How do you know when you have that, i.e., how does one measure how enhanced an experience is?
A: An enhanced learning experience in this case is one driven by the integration of technology to capture the learners’ attention and engage them through digital interaction. For example, let’s take role-play; I know a number of learners who absolutely dislike role-play. However, add AR and some recorded scenarios where a real-life customer presents a question that the learner must attempt to answer and the engagement changes—it is enhanced. You are thereby enhancing the learner’s experience, making it memorable and promoting learning that sticks. As for measuring enhanced learning, it depends on the learning experience that is created—what is the goal of the learning? And, ultimately, did the learners demonstrate an ability to perform the specific task or follow the specific process, etc.?
Q: Are the different software options similar to each other?
A: The AR authoring tools I shared do share similarities—mainly the ability to drag and drop elements on your target. However, each authoring tool has its own AR app. This means that you cannot engage with an AR target created in Layar using the Aurasma AR app on your device. You need to use the Layar app to view an AR project created using Layar.
Q: Is there a way to download the app to your computer?
A: No, the AR app only works on a smartphone or tablet with iOS or Android. Now, the AR creator is a different story. I only shared four authoring tools and demonstrated one. However, there are a number of other AR authoring tools, including downloadable SDKs that require a bit more tech-savviness to get up and running with them.
Q: What approach to analysis do you use to maintain situational awareness?
A: Unlike virtual reality (VR), AR is not a fully immersive technology, so learners have the ability to scope out what is happening around them. With AR we can build better worlds in which cognitive thinking is liberated. For example, you could create AR scenarios that require learners to interact and take action in the physical world there by potentially improving situational awareness. The military has mastered this art through more advanced and sophisticated AR tactics. Remember, although AR could be used as a standalone solution, it is more effective when incorporated into a blended solution.
Q: Have you tried using an anchor document for use in the field? Like, if they scan a small card they can instantly link to various job aids and websites and such? Wondering if that would be practical.
A: This is totally practical. You could have a small business card that is set as the main target, ensuring the actual target is graphic heavy. Then you would associate various types of media links, such as links to job aids, videos, website, and more. Now, imagine changing that digital content on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Your target becomes a pseudo app that delivers just-in-time training at the speed of change that we are currently experiencing.
Q: Myra talked about pricing per published page, so I am curious: How do you handle that for customers?
A: Just to clarify—the pricing model differs per solution. The pricing model you select depends on the shelf life of your project. For example, for a project that has a three-month shelf life, a basic per-page model could be used. This does not add a lot of extra cost to your project if used effectively. The use of AR should be included in your original project scope along with an estimated cost.
A longer shelf life (one year or more) would be better suited to use an open source AR SDK that doesn’t have a per-page pricing model, but does require a programmer or someone with technical expertise. Although the software would not increase project budget, adding an extra FTE to the project would.
- Webinar Q&A | CARDBOARD: Inside a Rapid VR Project - April 12, 2017
- Five Schoolhouse Rock! Learning Strategies You Should Be Using - March 2, 2017
- Webinar Q&A | Creating Sticky Learning With Low-Cost AR Solutions - January 23, 2017