Apps in Action: Bringing Resources to Life with Aurasma

Aurasma can transform both your resources and learning environment into vibrant, content rich places for students to gather information. I’ll admit, when I first saw augmented reality in action, my initial thoughts were that it is a bit of a gimmick. I was impressed by what it could do, however it was just some flashy software that made pieces of paper look as if they belonged in a Harry Potter movie. It was only when I started reading about how others were using augmented reality and playing around with it for myself that I started to understand the impact this could have on education. Aurasma works in a similar fashion to other augmented reality apps like DAQRI, Layar and Blippar. Aurasma is even used by well known brands and publications like GQ, BBC and Disney to bring content to life:

These tools are now available to teachers, enabling you to easily create dazzling content for your classes.

How does it work?
auras_li_steps_00Once you download the Aurasma app, it uses your devices camera as a viewfinder which finds and plays content attached to what they call Auras. Authors create Auras by attaching content like videos, to a trigger image. Users then use the Aurasma app to scan the trigger image and display the content on their device. For a quick demonstration, download the Aurasma app and scan the back of a £10 note, $20 bill or the front of a €20 note.

(Image Credit: Aurasma)

Creating Auras
In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages Aurasma has over the competition is the fact that it allows you to instantly create Auras straight from my iPad. This makes it a perfect tool for developing the use of augmented reality in the classroom. Creating an Aura using the Aurasma App is incredibly simple:

– Before starting, ensure you have downloaded the Aurasma app and signed up for a free account. You’ll be asked to do this the first time you download and open the app. Other users will have to follow your Channel to activate any Auras you have created.

IMG_1084– When you open the app, the viewfinder will be displayed. First, click the Aurasma logo located at the bottom of the screen. Next click the + icon to access the Create screen. From here, you can choose an Overlay: this is the content that will be displayed once someone has scanned your trigger image. You can opt to either use one of the existing Overlays in the Library or you can add your own content from your device.

IMG_1085– Once you have selected your Overlay, you will need to link this to a Trigger Image. To do this, line up the image with the box displayed and capture it using the camera icon. However, do not capture the image until the bar displayed at the bottom turns green. This will ensure that your image is recognisable and will improve the chances of a successful scan.

IMG_1086– Next position your content where you would like it to be displayed. You can move and rotate the Overlay by using the buttons at the bottom of the screen. You can also use pinch to zoom to resize the object. Once you are happy with the location of the Overlay, tap the arrow to proceed.

IMG_1087– Finally, assign your newly created Aura a name. You will also be given the option to make you aura Private or Public. Public channels are visible to all users of Aurasma. Anybody can subscribe to one and view the Auras within it. Private channels are not visible to users of Aurasma. These are more suitable for testing Auras before making them live. To allow someone to subscribe to a private channel without making it public, send them the Share link found by clicking on the Link to Subscribe button in the Channel window. You will also see the option to add your Aura to a Channel. Channels are used so that users can find content that is useful to them. If you do not have any Channels set up, you can set one up simply by pressing the + next to Channels.

Ideas for Using Aurasma in the Classroom
There are many ways Aurasma can be used in the classroom to create a more engaging space for students. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve been using it in my class:

– Bring Posters to Life: In my classroom, I have used Aurasma to add AR content to posters to aid students. For example, if students are stuck with a certain concept, they can go and scan the appropriate poster or wall display and view a video or access other resources like websites or articles, which will help with their understanding. The fact they can go and access relevant content when they need it really has a significant big impact.
– Enhancing Resources: The technique above can also be applied on a smaller scale to enhance existing resources like information sheets. For example, when we are looking at a case study in Geography, students can use Aurasma to scan a fact sheet of an event and access news clips, photo galleries, additional reading material and much more. It adds another dimension to resources, making them far more engaging and also enables students to access the resources they need at any time.
– Create Engaging Displays of Students Work: Since Aurasma is so easy to use, students can start to develop their own Auras. After completing a project aimed at identifying ways Kibera slum in Kenya could be improved, students created an advertisement using iMovie to encourage people to donate to their cause. In addition, they designed a logo for their charity which was then used as a trigger image. Groups then added their ad as an overlay, so when others scanned their logo, their ad played. This certainly goes beyond traditional classroom displays and enables learners to present work in a way in which previously they were not able to.
– Carousel Activities: Carousel activities are useful way to get students to gather information about a topic. This traditionally involves students having access to a resource containing information and a set of points which they have to find. One example of this was during a Humanities lesson where students were deciding which of the contenders to the English throne in 1066 would have made the best King. Learners first completed a carousel activity using a piece of text to find out about the contenders before making their decision. Now, thanks to Aurasma, I’ve been able to create a video using Morfo of each contender speaking and link that to a trigger. I’ve found this has many benefits including being more engaging because of the wow factor, helping students with lower reading ages access the material and also ensuring they don’t just copy from the text.
Providing Tutorials: Recently as a department, we’ve started to work on using Aurasma in conjunction with Explain Everything to create tutorials to help learners with exam technique. Videos explaining how to answer certain questions have been made in Explain Everything and then embedded into exam papers using Aurasma. This is something which could be done in any subject area. For example, in Maths, why not create a video showing how to solve a certain equation. Once they have answered the question, they could scan it and compare their method to the one in the video and identify any areas they went wrong. Better still, get students to create the videos themselves showing the perfect technique and get them to embed them using Aurasma. The possibilities are endless!

Aurasma is perfect for quickly and easily producing augmented reality content: that’s what really sets it apart from other augmented reality creation suites. The Auras you can create using the app are basic, however more elaborate Auras can be produced using the Aurasma Studio website. The fact people have to follow your account is both a gift and a curse in my opinion: its great that many Auras can be attached to the same Trigger image, however it does mean that people can’t just scan and go as is the case with DAQRI. Nevertheless, Aurasma’s simplicity means it is great for use with students to either consume or even create their own AR content and also for teachers, whether they are tech novices or experts.

mzl.gionfcalAurasma by Aurasma is available for free on the App Store.

*all prices and links correct at the time of publication and are subject to change


2 thoughts on “Apps in Action: Bringing Resources to Life with Aurasma

  1. Good post. Can you please elaborate more on the pros and cons you mention at the end of the piece…specifically how can one trigger have several Auras…do you mean that different Auras are triggered, but only if different accounts are being followed? And how does DAQRI differ with respect to Scan and Go?


    • Yeah, sure: so with Aurasma, users have to follow a persons account to activate the Auras they have created. As a result, many users could use a single image but each add a different Aura: what you would see would depend on who you were following. This can be an advantage for teachers, particularly when using images which are common. For example, one of the History teachers in my school has taken a photograph of Martin Luther King delivering the “I Have a Dream” speech and when scanned, a video of the speech plays. It’s is possible that the same image has been used by others but with a different Aura attached.

      DAQRI takes a different approach: each trigger image has to be unique. This means you often cannot add AR content to common images. However, the major advantage of this is that people do not have to follow you in order to access your content. This means users can just scan an image with the DAQRI app and access the experience straight away. I believe this is far more efficient, particularly when adding AR content to things like displays around school or a newsletter.

      If using Aurasma, you could add a QR code which users could scan to follow the desired account first, but it’s not quite so slick, in my opinion.

      I hope that answered your question, if you do have any others, please don’t hesitate to ask.


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