As we contemplate open access and innovation, it is impossible to ignore the potential offered by ARIS (Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling System). Designed and maintained by an amazing group of people, centered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, ARIS is not only a great tool, but a project that is gaining international notoriety. Here is my list of five reasons why the language learning community should pay attention.
As language educators, we often discuss the value of study abroad, service learning, and community interaction as beneficial for language learning. AR allows us to design interactive experiences, enhanced by mobile devices, to either create place-based interactions. The same way we might explore restaurants in a neighborhood using YELP, learners can explore (and hopefully expand) their surroundings via place-relevant resources. Check out our first project in this area, Mentira (with Chris Holden, UNM).
Real time, geo-tagged, user-created data that can be made available to others within a public or restricted space and turned into game elements … Wow! Students can collect and share their language learning experiences (e.g., conversations, images, videos) for any number of reasons. Most recently we worked with a professor of colonial literature to make the themes in her course come alive on campus. Nothing like giving Sor Juana a tour of campus!
The ARIS editor is designed for non-programmers and has an extensive documentation system and active discussion group always willing to offer help. This means your students can be up and running in a matter of a few hours. Design and creation have a great deal of potential as learning tools as well, which makes this feature great on multiple levels.
People contribute as they can to build different needed features, server space, etc. Also, the code is open to those wishing to work with it. ARIS success is a key model in terms of sustainable projects.
This is a key feature for many educational contexts.
Whenever I think about the ARIS project, I am always amazed at its sustainability and growth over the past five years. Let’s keep thinking about ways to facilitate this type of innovation while keeping it free for users? What can we do to enhance the ARIS features most useful for language learning?
Julie M. Sykes (Ph.D., Minnesota) is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Linguistics. Her research focuses on the use of digital games for language acquisition. Sykes’ recent projects include the design, implementation, and evaluation of Croquelandia (a synthetic immersive gaming environment for learning pragmatics) as well as the use of place-based, augmented reality mobile games (Mentira) to engage language learners in a variety of non-institutional contexts.