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Using AR in ELT materials: a case study Could Augmented Reality transform ELT materials?

It is not yet a standard feature, but one publisher, as a proof of concept, has started to use AR in their newest catalogue.

“We’re trying to do something different. As the business is evolving from one that is dominated by print products, trying to get digital products in front of a customer is a big challenge, especially with a print catalogue,” Rupert Daniels, Global Marketing Director at Cambridge University Press told us.

In many ways, catalogues have been lagging behind course materials in their use of digital media. For the past few years, most publishers have been limited to using interactive PDFs, websites with embedded videos and detailed, static information to promote digital products. This has often fallen short of giving the customer the actual digital experience, Daniels argues.

“How do you effectively communicate the depth of content within a Learning Management System in an oldfashioned print catalogue? How do you convey the rich content and detailed functionality, the user experience?”

“We’ve been looking at Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality tools to help us. AR is a really simple way to get people to open the world of digital quickly and easily.”

A quick demonstration of the AR app shows how simple it is. Could this be a foretaste of the kind of things that you could find in the next generation of learning materials?

After downloading the app, you just hit start, and then wherever there is an AR code on the page, you hover the device over the whole page, and it uses image recognition software to link you immediately to the animated and multi-media content. Users get short tasters of content, and there is a simple oneclick menu of interviews with authors, or sample videos.

In future ELT material, we could see the same kind of technology, where you just hover over the page, then click to play audio or video, or display other supporting content.

For a few years now, QR codes have been increasingly used in products. With a QR code, you can get the audio files immediately on your phone. With AR, you could have a whole range of multi-media content on your mobile device, linked to specific content on the page, whether that’s a catalogue for now, or a coursebook in the future.

AR will clearly improve the users’ experience of the material. But the question remains: will it improve their learning outcomes?

Image courtesy of Cambridge University Press
Ron Ragsdale
Ron Ragsdale
Ron was formerly Managing Editor of the EL Gazette. He gained his MA-TESOL at Portland State University in Oregon over 25 years ago, and has worked in ELT publishing ever since, with teaching stints in Istanbul and Cairo. In addition to managing teams at Pearson and Cambridge ELT, including as Publishing Director, Ron has worked with Ministries and local partners in over 30 countries.
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