Content Development

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Is content in an appropriate format?

It is important when collating content delivered through mobile AR, that you consider the usability aspect for users. The way users interact and interrogate resources on a desktop is very different to the experience they expect on a portable device. The reduced screen real estate necessitates that mobile specific resources should be presented in bite-sized chunks, piquing their interest to study further. Content developers should be careful to minimise any textual content, instead presenting a summary with links to deeper online content if necessary. AR is by definition a visual medium so engaging the user is integral to how much impact it has. Merely duplicating existing learning materials from a VLE or handout should be avoided. Included below is an overview of the main content types and ways to display them in an AR experience.


Text

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A textual overlay using AR.
Use text sparingly as the user can become overwhelmed if confronted with content that is text heavy. Consider also, that many portable devices are smaller in size and resolution, so in terms of accessibility, this can be problematic. Use a small amount of text to gain the attention of the user, so that they can decide to link to further online resources. Accompanying text with images captures the users attention and is often adept in elucidating difficult concepts.

Images


(thumbnail)
An image/text overlay.
Utilising images can be useful in allowing users a more detailed view of an object, particularly when layered on the physical object. Using an image editing piece of software (Adobe Fireworks, Gimp) can significantly reduce file size and improve performance. As a measure, you can normally optimise a .png file to 10% of its original file size with little visible difference.


(thumbnail)
A transparent image layered over a real world feature.
Images can also be used to layer effectively over a physical object to provide the user with additional perspective and understanding.

Video

(thumbnail)
A 'movie texture' - a video that plays over the real world object.
With increased broadband speeds, users have become accustomed to content being displayed in a few seconds, this can be a real challenge on a mobile device on a restricted network signal or slow WiFi connection. It is imperative that any video employed is optimised for mobile delivery and split into clips of no more than 5 minutes. It may be appropriate to create a mobile specific version targeting smartphone or tablet devices. If you are hosting your videos on a site like YouTube or Vimeo, in some cases a lower resolution version will be played to minimise lag time.
There are a number of free tools available that encrypt video into formats that enable the user to view video in live view as a movie texture. Although there are some usability issues associated with this form of playback, it can create an immersive and memorable user experience.


3D Models

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A 3D model of a book used in the SCARLET project
Utilising images can be useful in allowing users a more detailed view of an object, particularly when layered on the physical object. Using an image editing piece of software (Adobe Fireworks, Gimp) can significantly reduce file size and improve performance. As a measure, you can normally optimise a .png file to 10% of its original file size with little visible difference.



Does content need to be created?

In the initial content identification exercise, the academic should have thought about any additional content not available in the current course module. In most cases they will need to use existing content but break it down into digestible learning chunks. This will inevitably take longer than you plan for and must include frequent dialogue between content creator and academic. Simply reusing existing resources available on a VLE or website does not add value to the learner experience. Users will quickly realise they can circumvent the AR by visiting the resource page direct.

AR should offer something unique, building on existing resources. Sometimes adding additional resources may offer a more personalised learning experience. Short videos introducing the primary content can provide a foundation for further research and encourage critical thinking, identifying points of interest, without mapping out a prescribed learner journey. A note of caution; underestimate development time at your peril. Preparation, recording and editing can take considerable time and effort often involving two or more members of staff, so be sure to set achievable goals.



Related blog posts

SCARLET Evaluation

Demonstration du projet SCARLET

Thoughts on the ELI Conference

Demonstration Content

Bringing Ancient Greek Papyri to Life through AR

Storyboarding Augmented Reality Content for Dante

Planning a Literature Class Using Non-Traditional Teaching/AR Methods

Capturing the Dante Content and Digital Asset Gathering

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