The joint use of mobile devices and other learning technologies widely accepted such as Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs: Moodle, Blackboard...) or Web 2.0 applications (Google Documents, Dropbox...), have significant educational potential as is shown in several research initiatives in the field of Ubiquitous Learning (UL). UL suggests that learning does not happen only in a classroom or, for example, only in the context of a VLE: there are opportunities to learn at all times and in all "learning spaces" in which the student participates. Thus, relating learning activities in the classroom with other that happen in a nearby park, a museum, etc., brings new opportunities to promote the acquisition of certain skills.
Technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), defined as the interactive and synchronous combination of virtual and physical objects in a physical environment, have shown their potential to support the implementation of UL situation. However, the acceptance by UL educators and their associated technologies is very low at today. This is mainly due to the additional complexity that technologies such as AR or mobile devices add to the already complex educational technological ecosystem. This complexity is a major effort educators in designing and implementing UL educational innovations.
In previous work we addressed this problem by developing GLUEPS-AR, a technological solution that helps educators, using existing educational design tools, to design and implement UL situations that involve activities that are simultaneously performed in web learning spaces (supported by VLEs and Web 2.0 tools) and augmented physical spaces with AR technology. However, despite the positive results of GLUEPS-AR and other similar systems, we have been identified several pending important challenges that would be overcome to increase the possibilities of UL adoption.
This project proposes the design, development and evaluation in real contexts of a technological solution (based on GLUEPS-AR) that helps teachers of several educational levels the autoamtic deployment, flexible implementation, and evaluation of UL situations that involve activities in virtual web spaces, virtual 3D, and physical augmented. This technological solution pretends to overcome the following challenges:
- Allow the implementation of flexible designs, customizable by teachers and students, helping, for example, that students can self-organize. So rigid designs, which could hinder natural processes of interaction between students, would be avoided. This flexibility should be able to be controlled by the teacher and be aligned with their pedagogical intentions.
- Provide support for the evaluation of Ubiquitous Learning situations. This is necessary for both researchers and teachers-researchers (for instance, involved in "research-action" processes) can obtain conclusions on the educational impact of the innovation that suposes the technology-supported UL.
- Introduce a third type of learning space in Ubiquitous Learning situations: the 3D Virtual Worlds (3DVWs). The 3DVW allow the representation of physical spaces where educational activities are made, so that, for example, students could participate in the activities, simultaneously or sequentially, from the physical space itself or from the classroom through the 3DVW.
As project outcomes, the next systems have been implemented:
- GLUEPS-AR: https://www.gsic.uva.es/gluepsar/
- Bucket-Server: https://www.gsic.uva.es/buckets/