What it is: ARIS , which stands for Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling, is one of the most innovative applications I have come across.  The application is still in development so all of the functionality isn’t available within the application just yet, but it is such an incredible application that I had to share it now.  ARIS is an application that will allow you to create your own mobile games, tours, and interactive stories using the built-in GPS and augmented reality.  Using the GPS and QR codes, ARIS will let students experience stories and learning in a way never before possible mashing up a virtual world of characters, items and media with the physical locations.  ARIS lets you plant photos, characters, and multimedia within a game or tour.  Students can even interact with virtual characters by asking questions! Right now when you download the ARIS application, you won’t be able to create your own tours (unless you sign up as an Alpha tester here), but you can play with the virtual tours and interactive stories that have already been created in ARIS.

Right now your students can experience STEEL which is a game about mining and smelting metals.  In the game, students hunt for virtual mines located all around Madison and collect them for profit.  Since we aren’t all living in Madison to try this game out using the GPS, QR codes are available for those who don’t live in the Madison area.

Mentira is another interactive that you can use right now with students.  This place-based-game was created to help develop language skills in Spanish.  Mentira plays like an interactive historical novel where fact and fiction combine to set the context and social conditions for meaningful Spanish interactions.  While playing students investigate clues and interact with virtual characters to absolve their family from a murder in the neighborhood.  The students complete the game by solving it, who-done-it style.

DOW Day is my personal favorite offering right now.  In this game, students are plopped virtually in 1967 on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Students have to stage a protest against the DOW chemical corporation for making napalm for the war.  Students take on the role of a news reporter and must interview and investigate different interests and the perspectives of virtual students, police, and DOW employees.  Within the game students will find virtual characters, items, and multimedia that immerses them in the interactive story through augmented reality.  There are QR codes available for this game for those of us who aren’t in Madison to try it out using GPS.

To see ARIS in action, take a look at the demo video below:

How ARIS can enrich learning: When ARIS is launched with full creation capabilities, the possibilities for use will be endless!

  • For an elementary classroom, ARIS could be used for a virtual scavenger hunt around the school.  The first week of school, create a scavenger hunt where you leave virtual clues and items around the school for students to discover.  This type of scavenger hunt would be a great way for students to become familiar with the mobile learning devices in your classroom, as well as give them a tour of the school, highlighting places of interest like the library/media center, lunch room, lost and found, and office.
  • ARIS is an excellent platform for creating interactive stories.  I can’t think of a better way to bring history to life than this!  Create games with your students using novels that you are reading as a class, to create scavenger hunts for other grade levels, or to bring history to life.
  • I am envisioning all you could do with this application during an election year, putting your students on a virtual campaign trail with a virtual campaign manager to guide them as they talk to their constituents, others in politics, and news organizations.
  • Bring any book to life by meshing it with ARIS to create an interactive story, this would be particularly good for mysteries, as students read the book, they can interact with characters in the book, searching for clues on their own.
  • How about using ARIS for a virtual dinosaur dig where your students act as paleontologists?  How neat would it be for them to “discover” and “dig-up” dinosaur bones of their own?!
  • You could create a tour of math where students visit various locations on the playground and a virtual character prompts them to measure angles, or calculate distance?
  • Create an art tour where students can interact with various artists throughout history.  Plant art replica posters around the school for students to find and at each art piece, the students can “meet” the artist.
  • ARIS is a natural choice for learning state history, the mobile device adds a “history” layer to the physical landscape in front of them.

As I said, the possibilities with this app are endless!  I love that this application gets students out of their seats and discovering their learning.  What uses can you think of for ARIS?

Devices: Native for the iPhone and iPod Touch but can also be used on the iPad

Price: Free (iTunes Link)**

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