Make Your Own “Place-Based” Mobile Games
5.21.10 | A new iPhone application, now available for free download, enables educators to create place-based or narrative gaming activities they can incorporate into their own curriculum.
These augmented reality (AR) games combine real world experiences with virtual information supplied by the mobile devices. [For more on AR games, see Spotlight’s “Views from the Vanguard of Using Mobile Media for Learning.”]
The application is called ARIS, short for Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling. Educators can create quests or stories for students to follow and introduce virtual characters students meet along the way.
Led by Kurt Squire, an assistant professor of educational communications and technology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and researchers at the Games Learning and Society group, the tool uses a mobile phone’s GPS technology. It can capture geo-tagged audio recordings, photos and videos that student players can access when they reach a particular location or meet a particular character.
These characters can talk with students, provide information, exchange items or respond to tasks. Authors can also create virtual items that players can retrieve and exchange.
Here are some examples of how educators are taking advantage of these new mobile technologies for learning:
• Students in Albuquerque practice Spanish language skills by talking with real people and virtual characters while visiting a local neighborhood.
• Earth science students in Madison solve a fictional mystery involving pollutants in a local lake. They use their handhelds to talk with virtual characters to learn life histories, access documents describing chemicals, and conduct simulated tests for PCBs, TCE and mercury.
• History students learn the effects of urban renewal policies on local neighborhood residents when they tour a once vibrant Irish neighborhood and hear from real and virtual residents about the destruction that took place years ago in the name of development.
If you happen to live near Madison, the GLS group already has a number of sample games for you to play.
If not, you can join the authoring team at arisgames.org and start making mobile experiences for your students and community. Download the application here.
We’d love to hear about your mobile projects—either send us an email or leave a comment on this post.
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