I recently had the privilege of collaborating with a student-teacher (a teacher-in-training) on a pedagogical approach which leverages some of the affordances of augmented reality (AR).
As a research scientist at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, my team and I have been working alongside teachers, school leaders and officers from the Ministry of Education to help design curricula in a variety of disciplinary domains to surface the intuition of novices through phenomenological lenses (for example, diSessa, 1983). Our philosophy of Disciplinary Intuitions (Lim, 2015) is elaborated upon at our team’s Google site.
In 2018, we thought it might be interesting to explore the ways in which approaches to using AR in contexts of learning might possibly be extended, from the perspective of Disciplinary Intuitions (Lim et al., 2018). We collaborated with chemistry educators at the National Pingtung University in Taiwan on a pilot study which afforded their undergraduate students opportunities to sketch – in three dimensions – their nascent understandings of the structures of molecules, using a freely downloadable smartphone app (‘Just a Line’ from Google).
Last year, I partnered with Ryan Lim – who is presently studying at the NIE as a budding history educator – to extend this approach of ‘learner-generated augmentation’ (which can trace its philosophical roots to Husserl ) in an effort to understand how it might help the mnemonic strategy of the ‘memory palace’ (otherwise known as the method of loci). Memory palaces are essentially constructions within the learner’s imagination which seek to help one to recall facts by associating these facts to specific ‘sites’ (or loci) within the imaginary constructions. As described, memory palaces are therefore exclusively within the imagination of each learner and there is little effective way for a teacher or peer to engage in dialogue around these constructions.
‘We encouraged the learners to use elements in real-world environments with which they were already familiar as loci within their memory palaces.’
Using the aforementioned approach of learner-generated augmentation and inspired by the work of Kress (2008), we designed and conducted a small study (Lim & Lim, 2020) in which the primary activity was for participants to sketch – in three dimensions – representations of what they deemed to be significant facts from a given historical text, using their immediate local environments as their canvas. In other words, we encouraged the learners to use elements in real-world environments with which they were already familiar as loci within their memory palaces.
We had hoped to share an extended discussion of our analysis from this study at the Constructionism 2020 conference, which was to be held at Trinity College Dublin between 26 and 29 May but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis. However, our paper is published in that conference’s proceedings, and we look forward to interacting with, and learning from, you through at other fora in future.
This blog is based on the article ‘Semiotics, memory and augmented reality: History education with learner-generated augmentation’ by Kenneth Lim and Ryan Lim, published in the British Journal of Educational Technology’s special issue on augmented reality.
diSessa, A. A. (1983). Phenomenology and the evolution of intuition. In D. Gentner & A. L. Stevens (Eds.), Mental models. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
Husserl, E., & Schumann, K. (1976 ). Ideas for a pure phenomenology and phenomenological philosophy. Dordrecht: Springer.
Kress, G. (2008). Meaning and learning in a world of instability and multiplicity. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 27(4), 253–266.
Lim, K. Y. T. (Ed.) (2015). Disciplinary intuitions and the design of learning environments. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
Lim, K. Y. T., Chen, K. H.-C., Lin, S.-W., Huang, J.-C., Ng, K. S.-E., Ng, J. J. L., Wang, Y., & Woong, N. (2018). Representations of novice conceptions with learner-generated augmentation: A framework for curriculum design with augmented reality [Special issue]. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 11(3).
Lim, K. Y. T., & Lim, R. (2020). Semiotics, memory and augmented reality: History education with learner-generated augmentation [Special issue]. British Journal of Educational Technology, 51(3). https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12908