In education it is most desired to have the students actually do something (for example construct something) instead of just watching. We chose a chemical scenario where students should learn the basic principles of atomic structure and molecules. They should be able to build up molecules based on their gathered knowledge about electrons and the periodic system. Therefore we integrated physical objects to the interaction process.
As already done in the 1st scenario (see Process Visualization) they also should work co-operatively while sharing one table. Natural group communication eases the collaboration. Unlike the first scenario the students are able to touch real objects, e.g. a color ball as proxy for an atom.
The Augmented Reality teaching platform guides the students in building molecules by showing the appropriate augmentation and playing audio hints. Guidance by a teacher in an active way (directly participating) or even passive is supported. The whole session is logged by the system and can therefore be used either by us for usability studies or by the teachers for evaluating the students.
A general AR software is provided that is driven by simplified physical rules and so can be used as a general platform for specific teaching purposes.
The application consists of an introduction part and 3 kinds of assignments where students should learn either the basic structure of a periodic table (e.g. what are the rules for Groups and Periods, where is the position of a specific atom) or construct molecules by simply combining elements or solving a more complex equation. For this, they first bind a chemical symbol to a color ball by selecting it from the periodic table and then combining them by simply using their hands to directly interact with the chosen elements. This is what we call direct-hand interaction. The valence layer of an element and its electrons are augmented directly on the color balls.
In month 23 of the project (December 2007), we organized a conference on Information and Communication Technology in Natural Science Education (see References or conference website). Focus of this conference was to exchange and present knowledge and experience in the area of eLearning and new media technology in schools with special emphasis on highly interactive collaborative teaching situations. The conference lasted two days and reached an international audience.
Within a special ARiSE workshop session related papers and demonstrations of the two prototypes were presented by the consortium members. It mainly emphasized the construction with guidance scenario, though it also shows an improved version of the process visualization scenario.