offers you the chance to travel without moving. Unlike Google Earth's
bird eye view on the scenery, StreetView lets you experience the pedestrian perspective, which gives you more of the "being there" feeling.
From an educational perspective this may be interesting, especially for domains with a highly local geographic focus (e.g. architecture, cultural science): saving travel cost and time plus the possibility to explore many sites in a short period are among the core arguments for using such technologies for educational purposes. But can we go beyond just using these tools instead of maps and pictures? Can we explore their interactiveness to provide a richer experience? Can we use their open interfaces to enhance their functionality for our specific educational needs?
In this post, we aim to address this from a technical perspective: as the development of interactive educational material is costly and laborious, we explore Google's stack of openly available technologies for the development of enhanced and immersive learning services. Additionally we aim to tackle another goal: we want to use the same architecture for augmented reality mobile games and augmented virtuality games for stationary devices. In a sister project (ARLearn), we explored the mobile variant of this architecutre. See here
for a description of a previous ARLearn prototype.
Within the StreetLearn project
, we realized a prototype for an augmented virtuality
game environment solely based on openly available tools. We created an environment, in which we can place game plays onto real world maps, enhanced with information and interaction items. A user can navigate through accessible locations, get information, solve tasks/quests, find objects, take decisions, be confronted with events and messages. Teams can be created to work cooperatively (competing with other teams).
The scenario described here involves authors, teachers, and students. Authors can prepare and publish educational scenarios as maps. Students can select and play these maps. Teachers can include selected maps into their teaching. StreetLearn can be used to support a range of different didactical scenarios: It can be used as a replacement for an excursion, to prepare an excursion, to evaluate an excursion, or to prepare student exchange programs.
To support the development of serious games for these different educational scenarios, we developed an object model as depicted in a simplified form in the following figure:
Fig. 1: StreetLearn object model
This object model is complemented by an architecture, which is solely based on openly accessible tools, mainly from Google:
Fig. 2: StreetLEarn component architecture
The prototype of StreetLearn is in place. After an internal review of the first implementation at CELSTEC, the prototype is ready to be evaluated with a real game case scenario.
Technically, the prototype is build on google’s appengine technology as application server environemnt and as backend storage technology. This freely available technology offers high scalability at low setup cost. The user interface of StreetLearn is realised with Google’s StreetView technology, that offers intuitive navigation and visualisation facilities and an open API for technical enhancements. The StreetView user interface is extended in StreetLearn with additional control & status elements (game controls) and visualisations of interactive game elements embedded in the 3D environment.
StreetLearn user interface based on StreetView
StreetLearn: interactive tests embedded in the game play