Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
As of next week I have exactly one month before I have to return to school. Once I get past the beginning of the year things, one of my major tasks is organizing a meaningful library orientation for my almost 300 incoming 9th grade students.
No matter what level of the school library you work in, developing or improving how to introduce your library and the resources you provide to incoming students is an important task.
I’m sorry to admit that I don’t think we have ever done this very well at my school. We don’t have a set schedule of visits for incoming students to visit the library for face-to-face training, and we are only a brief stop on the guided tour on opening day. So, we have been looking for tools that would change this.
Enter the Aurasma app, an augmented reality tool which allows you to overlay images and videos as your student’s tablet or smart phone scans an area. Aurasma allows you to select a “trigger” image like your circulation desk, library stacks, or even a photo, and then magic happens! As students scan an area you have set up your library with a device, an “aura” will appear. An overlay is revealed on top of what the phone/tablet is scanning. The cool part is that the layer can be an animation, a video, or even a URL. It can be a very Harry Potterlike experience—scanning a poster or bulletin board can give the impression that the images themselves are coming to life!
In my “bring-your-own-device” school district, I can see tremendous use for this. We have an iPad that we can loan to students for special projects like this one. I’ll set up overlays and videos throughout the library to showcase its resources, and to instruct the use of library devices. For example, if a student scans a smart phone over the circulation computer, a brief “how-to” video appears, giving instructions on how to search for materials. Kids’ work can be displayed on back-to-school night, and parents will be able to view videos that show the students explaining their thought process. Biology teachers can use the app as an instruction tool for science labs. Students in math classes can create videos showing clues to solve difficult problems. History teachers can bring photos to life. It’s a bit like a QR code on steroids!
There may be lots of augmented reality apps, but if you decide to download Aurasma, make an account, create and name an image/video that you want to be your overlay, and then select and use that as you photograph your “trigger” area. Finally, add it to a channel that you have created, make it public, and finish. In order for your students to see it, they will need to “like/follow” your channel. That way all the videos you make public and post on that channel will be visible.
You’ve really got to see this in action to grasp the myriad of possibilities. Give it a try now and be patient—as with many mobile apps, a steady hand is required! After downloading the free Aurasma app, open it, click on the “A” at the bottom, and use the magnifying glass to search for and “follow” the SLJ channel. Click on the frame icon at the bottom, and then scan the image below. If it works (you’ll see a purple whirling swirl while it loads), you’ll see a brief book promo video. There are several online tutorials too, but for some amazing ideas take a look at this video: Teaching with Aurasma by Charles Cooper. Then for a quick start guide, check out this blog post: Making it Legit: Aurasma on the Thrasymakos blog, also by Charles Cooper.
These examples will start your own creative juices flowing and you’ll begin to see how you can use it in your library to aid your patrons in discovering all you have to offer! Happy orientation!
Phil Goerner is a teacher librarian at Silver Creek High School, Longmont, Colorado.
Krista Brakhage is a teacher librarian at Poudre High School, Fort Collins, Colorado.
This article was featured in School Library Journal's SLJTeen enewsletter. Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you twice a month for free.