How many of you remember the school moments when the teacher’s explanations were like hieroglyphs for you, but you were too embarrassed to raise your hand and say “I don’t understand”, afraid of the embarrassment and sometimes even mockery you could face from your colleagues? We have all been at least once in such a situation and the new generations are going through the same experiences. That’s what triggered researchers from the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid, Spain to develop an augmented reality system that would overcome this social student taboo.
They have developed a pair of glasses that take advantage of two elements many school children are interested and fascinated by: their smartphones and augmented reality. The proposed system, called Augmented Lecture Feedback System – ALFS, wants to improve the communication between students and teachers during classes without affecting the teenagers’ self-esteem and social image.
How the augmented reality system works
The professor is wearing a pair of augmented reality glasses than enables them to see symbols above each student, while a normal teaching session is carried out. These symbols are activated by the students via their smartphones and give feedback regarding their comprehension of the subject discussed. These can tell the tutor if they have understood the explanation, if they know the answer to the question that has just been asked and even if the professor needs to go more slowly with the lesson. This way, the teacher knows by simply looking at the symbol above the student’s head what the student wishes to communicate with them. The system even aggregates all answers in a diagram which can be particularly useful in large groups.
The main advantage of this AR system is the continuous communication that it facilitates between the professor and the student which is immediate and private, things that you could never achieve in a normal classroom environment. This in theory should allow for more effective teaching and better prepared students.
What the AR system needs to work
The prototype the Spanish researchers created uses gesture and image recognition through a Microsoft Kinect, a database preloaded with the student photos or markers used to aid the system, smartphones for students that have to be connected to the server where the system is installed and a pair of augmented reality glasses for the teacher which displays all the information received from their students.
Although this prototype is only at the beginning the results achieved so far have encouraged further research to simplify the technology and improve the benefits delivered. And who knows, maybe in a few years, this augmented reality technology will become a normal sight in all classrooms.