A blog for teachers and learners who love technology

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Aurasma - Collaborative jigsaw reading activity

Using Aurasma to set up collaborative jigsaw reading activity

Eleven months after my last post I am back blogging again. Since then I completed my Master's at the university of Warwick, I relocated to Spain, found my first teaching job and attended my first English language teaching conference. Right now, I am teaching 40 hours every week which leaves no time for blogging (even eating sometimes). At the beginning, it was really challenging. Trying to find the best teaching material for your learners in an ocean of different ELT materials has been a daunting experience especially the first three months. It is that period at the beginning of someone's teaching career in which you ask yourself, ‘Is this job for me?’And my answer is yes! It was that conference that I mentioned before that helped me to overcome this obstacle. Because of this conference, I am back blogging once again. The people that I met there, their passion for teaching English which they embodied into great ideas put me back into the game.

Augmented Reality technology and Aurasma


This post is a part of a series of blog post that will deal with different aspects of my dissertation, broken into short, easy to read, chunks. In this post, I will talk about some activities that I created for my Master's dissertation entitled 'Augmenting an English language teaching textbook using mobile-Augmented Reality technology to examine its impact in real classroom scenarios'. At the end of the series, I will also include a blog spot with all the difficulties that I faced while using Aurasma in an ELT class which every should know before stepping into a class and thinking of using this technology.

First and foremost, those activities make use of Aurasma, an Augmented reality mobile application, which blends the physical world with the virtual into a unique Augmented reality experience. If you are interested in learning more about the application and how to use it, there is another post on my blog which briefly explains the technology and which also includes a detailed video I created on how to use Aurasma Studio; a platform, accessible through your web-browser, which makes creating Augmented Reality experiences a piece of cake. You can find this blog post here.


My goal with all the activities was to create them in order to correspond to the modification as well as the redesign of the SAMR model (Puentedura 2014),  and at the same time, reaching the higher order thinking skills through the activities.

The first activity was based on a text from a very famous ELT textbook. I changed the book's reading into a jigsaw reading activity in which the learners were given a different source of information based on the text's  topic. The topic was about different ways of living a long life.
  • One group of students was asked to read the textbook’s text.
  • The second group was asked to use ‘Aurasma’ and scan the right half of the picture located above the book's text. This would trigger an article from a website dealing with a kind of superfood called kale.
  • Finally, the third group of students was asked to watch a video which was about tips on living a healthy life. The video was triggered after the student would open ‘Aurasma’ and scan the left half of the picture above the textbook’s text.
 All sources were related to each other so that the students could then mingle in order to exchange ideas and tips on how to improve their lives. After that, learners would get into teams of three with learners from the other groups so that they would come up with a list of the top tips for living a healthy and long life.

The ideas behind the activity

So, as you just read I used the book's images as the trigger images for the Augmented reality material. I did that in an effort to increase the book's value by introducing the concept of a changeable book that would be altered according to our teaching context. Instead of replacing the book, by acknowledging its value, I tried to build upon it and use it as a springboard for providing extra and relevant information.

Depending on my students' level, age and interests I could have possibly used a different article or video. Also, thinking about the amount of new information that we are introduced every day, the video or the article which I used last year might have become outdated by now. With Augmented Reality and Aurasma I can just keep my trigger images and associate them with new videos or articles. Still, I would use the same book as the basis in which I would relate the Augmented Reality material. So, instead of demoting the ELT book, I am improving it, and making it an integral part of my teaching.

Moreover, augmented Reality gave me the opportunity to incorporate an article and a YouTube video into my lesson without having to print anything or move the students from their seats in order to sit in front of a computer for example. Thus, on the one hand, I didn't have to deal with printers and on the other hand with finding a computer for every one of my learners. One of the possibly greatest powers of this technology is the fact it requires minimum effort from the side of the student. In other words, students just open Aurasma, point the mobile phone's camera to the triggering image and the material, I decided to give them, is right there on their screens.

All work is done by me beforehand and therefore, makes technology a lot less disruptive. There is not need for changing seats, turning on a computer, typing and trying to find the correct website etc. And even if this activity had been done with a mobile phone, learners would still need to open their internet browser and write the correct web address. The nature of AR allows for the right material to be displayed when learners trigger the respective images that I have set to serve as the trigger images while preparing the activity. This allows for a smooth and unproblematic experience which allowed the teacher to be minimally involved in the activity. Therefore, it can be said that possibly one of the affordances of AR is to promote a learning experience, which can flow without the intervention of the teacher, due to the guarantee that the learners will be presented with the right material. 

Finally thoughts

To be honest, this activity which was the first among the three that I did with the class the participated in my research was quite a failure. Even though I had a very good understanding of the technology, problems emerged that hindered my research. Those problems I will extensively present them in a blog post at the end of this series. However, having experienced this failure, I tried the exact same activity with my group of learners and that time the activity was a success. My learners were engaged in the activity throughout it. Having done quite a few jigsaw reading activities with this group of learners. This modified jigsaw reading surely caught their attention. I was pleased to watch my learners watching the video a number of times until the have felt that they had a good understanding of its content. 

Finally, I feel that learners should be given the freedom to take control over their learning. Next time I would try this activity with another group of learners I would encourage them to go on and search the recommended list of videos that appear next to activity's video in YouTube, as well as similar articles in a way to make them more responsible about their learning, increase their exposure to English, and give them the opportunity to self-direct their learning.

Extra information

At the end of this blog post, you can find the page from the ELT book that I used to base my Augmented Reality material. You can download Aurasma, open the application, follow my profile Aurasma profile named Antonopa, click on the page below to make it larger, point your camera with Aurasma application open and experience the Augmented Reality material. 


Puentedura, R., R (2014) SAMR In the Classroom: Developing Sustainable Practice [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2014/11/28/SAMRInTheClassroom_DevelopingSustainablePractice.pdf