The pandemic and it’s uncertainty hit the Emergency switch in Education. With the internet revolution, MOOCs, online video resources and Zoom, transition to digital learning was expected to work pretty much seamlessly. But the myth was soon broken, and many of us saw the education system spill through the seams in the face of remote learning. The world realized what teachers have known all along — they aren’t simply delivering knowledge and facts, they imbue learning by creating a physical, personal experience in the classroom. A group video chat or a lecture video greatly reduces the scope and dimensions available for creating that experience.
Teachers simplify the complex, they make abstract concepts understandable and useful in real life. In a classroom they bring compassion, make effort to explain a concept in creative, engaging ways, and believe in the students they’re teaching. They weave a world, draw up imagery and text on the board, walk up to the students, read the temperature of the classroom, basically transport the whole bunch to a world they’ve created for the concept at hand. Technology is ages away from being able to offer the effectiveness of physical, personal presence through online teaching. Like someone said, “The internet is just the world passing notes in a classroom”.
With the pandemic, educators had to immediately switch gears and transition to online learning, with no recourse whatsoever. A huge part of their classroom toolkit sat wasted, and the internet doesn’t have well designed tools to enable or empower the teachers in a virtual classroom.
Remote learning, hmm. What does it really mean? While it could, in the future, take on many forms like Virtual Reality classrooms, personalized holographic teachers (!), or what have you. Today, it largely means either online video lectures with a talking head in front of a whiteboard, or crowded Zoom lectures.
Yes, students and teacher could meet up in Virtual Reality as avatars in a virtual 3D space, but neither are headsets anywhere close to the market penetration needed to enable most students, nor is the experience at the stage where it can provide meaningful educational instruction to kids for long durations.
Teachers have used creative methods to keep Zoom classes engaging and useful, still it gets chaotic and painful. The etiquette native to teleconference classes, the short attention spans, the distractions at home, connectivity issues, and the difficulty of reading the room temperature at a glance, all of it contributed to remote learning crashing under the hype. Video lectures have failed to engage school kids who were used to the in-person classroom experience. The monologue lectures (necessitated by the number of video call participants) and bland digital white-boarding (necessitated by the tech available) don’t make for an immersive experience.
Love it or hate it, remote schooling is here to stay now in some shape or form, and the teacher’s toolkit needs an overhaul. Technology isn’t at the stage where it can make remote schooling effective right away. But fight fire with fire, and we might have a solution. From physical to virtual classrooms, we lost an extra dimension, the possibility to express got restrained, the physical space and freedom of it was no more. Can we do something to bring it back? Is there a magic wand that can help teachers create the world and connection their online classrooms are missing right now.
We are exploring ways to solve this problem, and are ready to place a bet on Augmented Reality (AR). The first tool that we came up with, is:
AR Lecture Videos.
Augmented Reality has, as of yet, focused on live experiences, meaning that the consumer is physically situated in an augmented world, experiencing the hybrid real and virtual world around them. Ironically, this has proved to be a hindrance for AR content in Mobile AR (iOS/Android). Mobile AR is strictly limited by the challenges of space, lighting, tracking, hence the lack of content being created using and for Mobile AR. And usable AR glasses are still a far cry, in terms of functionality and immersion.
So, we believe the best way to enable widespread viewership of AR content, is as a recorded video! Here’s how that would work:
The creator (teacher) captures plain old video of herself explaining a concept, then augments that video with AR objects and effects using a simple editing app on her phone. The consumer (student) watches the lecture video as a good ol’ video, made awesome and more immersive by embedding a virtual world inside it. This also enables something that isn’t possible with any other AR creation tool as yet — that is, to edit/modify the virtual world even after the video was already recorded. And it’s behavior with simple button clicks, much like we edit our pictures in a photo editor.
As an example, the number line video shared above was originally recorded in this form:
No AR needed at the time of capture, no need to build or code any effects or virtual objects beforehand, just a plain video recording of you going through some motions.
Then, open the AR editing tool we created, make a number line show up when the kick happens, make the numbers pop with every jump, or even shoot fire from your bare hands for even more eye-popping-ness.
And all of this with no coding from you, the creator. You can add a virtual world and AR effects to a video just like you make Tiktok videos, or edit images on the phone.
The creation possibilities with this app go far beyond video lectures. As an example, here’s a storytelling video we made for our 3yr old daughter in the same vein:
Teachers, it’s your magic wand. You can now create immersive worlds in your lecture videos and make your content visually awesome and powerful. You can create engaging content without the usual challenges of AR. With this tool, as a teacher, you get superpowers to add your physical personality to the lecture videos you make. You get all of the visual awesomeness of AR, and none of its hassle. Your students will experience it as a plain old video with much higher immersion though. They might even wish to call it, pardon us, TikTok for classroom.
Sign up here to get beta access to our AR editor tool: