The feedback loop between teachers and students could be improved by using Augmented Reality glasses.
Communication between lecturers and students during classes, especially those given in university amphitheatres, is not always optimal. In order to improve classroom interaction, researchers at the Carlos III University in Madrid have developed a prototype of ‘smart’ glasses based on Augmented Reality. When wearing the AR glasses, the teacher can see, appearing above the students in the class, icons which indicate their state of mind at any given time, i.e. showing when they have a question or whether they have or have not understood the point s/he is making. The glasses, which use Kinect technology, function in combination with an app that the students need to download on to their mobile devices in order to connect to the system server.
Dialogue between mobile phone and AR glasses
The prototype that the Madrid researchers have developed is controlled by gestures, captured with a Microsoft Kinect. Using a set of gestures, the teacher can ‘manually’ activate predetermined questions from the glasses’ software system, which are sent direct to the students’ mobiles and to which they respond by displaying a variety of symbols selected via the app. The symbols are then transmitted back to the glasses and the system identifies the individual students using facial recognition from photos previously uploaded into a database or, in larger groups, by using a positioning system based on markers. In addition, the system displays, on the upper part of the glasses, a diagram showing the aggregate of the answers given by the students, which can be particularly useful in teaching large groups.
Adapting teaching in real time
This research is part of TIPEx (Information Technologies for Planning and Training in Emergencies), a project that has been funded by the Spanish Ministry for Economy and Competitivity. The project examines how Augmented Reality and other technologies can be applied to the area of emergency management. The new tool provides students with a way to communicate that enables them to be in contact with the teacher both immediately and privately, and without interrupting the class. This could help overcome problems of shyness or fear of speaking in front of the class. The researchers hope that this system will make for more effective lecture-type classes. The idea is that receiving greater feedback, on a continuous basis, will allow the teacher to adapt the class based on the students’ actual knowledge and understanding, giving extra examples, varying the rhythm or skipping those parts of the lesson that the students indicate they already know. Moreover, the system allows the lecturer to visualise, through the glasses, notes or comments that s/he does not want to forget to mention at specific moments, which s/he can feed into the system prior to the session.