Friday, April 02, 2004

Friday hodgepodge: augmented reality, its applications for learning, and mystery

This article from MIT's Technology Review talks about how to use technology to engage people more with the world, not less.

Augmented reality gets people away from computers and back into the world, using technology to make learning (among other things) more interesting. At Boston's Museum of Science, kids used handheld computers and a Wi-Fi network to participate in a high-tech whodunnit. With the technology, they interviewed suspects, downloaded objects, examined the objects, and shared what they learned with others.

The game was a phenomenal success and got the kids interested in a museum that had seemed boring to some before. What could this type of activity do for your learners? Face-to-face training doesn't have to mean classroom training. Could your F2F training leave the classroom and turn into a high-tech murder mystery, scavenger hunt, and so forth?

Game-based learning has been talked about a lot recently, but it's always been in the context of software and at a desk. Stories and narrative in learning is also a hot topic. What about mystery in learning? I was sure hooked to this simple game that my friend sent me. It's another example of game-cum-ad (for a Japanese multimedia development company, I believe).

I kept at the game and stayed engaged, not because it was all that fun to click around a room and find stuff, but because I was so curious about what would turn up and what it would all mean.

This type of activity might not work for a crucial training message you need to get across, but what about for an announcement of training, or some kind of information you're going to repeat eventually? There will certainly be some people who will give up, so you won't want them to miss the information entirely. But mystery can pique someone's interest and make them more receptive to the message when it comes.

You need to be careful not to frustrate people, though. I needed a couple of hints from my friend for Crimson Room (see below). A creative mystery learning designer could probably work a system of hints for learners into the software.

Hints for Crimson Room: Click on the text messages at the opening to cycle through them. Then click around the room to explore and figure out how to escape. If you get stuck in the room after trying everything you can think of (I did), email me (ekaplan at and I'll give you a few more tips.

Off for a couple days next week--back on the blog Wed./Thurs.

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