Immersive Overlays

Hey folks, I’m here to talk to you today about something very exciting that I’ve been thinking about with regard to technology integration. What is it, you ask?

Immersive Overlays

The idea of immersive overlays draws on the power of mobile technology. With mobile technology we have the opportunity to transform the surroundings of any point in time in any point space using caches of digital content. I am calling those pockets of digital information a “digi-cache” (A google search suggests that I am first to stake claim to this term! Woo-hoo!)

A digi-cache is a pocket of digital information and content that has been stored out on the cloud for someone to access. The digi-cache is assembled in way that a person or learner can experience information related to a specific location at a specific point in time.  That digital content could be text, but with recent advances in digital technology will also include video or audio (or any other form of media from which we learn or acquire information, really).

By placing digi-cashes out in the cloud, we can provide our learners with access those caches later via a mobile device. In doing so, we enrich the experience of being in a particular place with content that comes from a particular point in time. That time could be current time or it could be a point in the past.

An Example

I’m going to start with the example of a scavenger hunt. There are number of apps available that allow you to create virtual scavenger hunts that can be accessed through mobile device. These apps (e.g. Scavenger Hunt with Friends, SCVNGR, etc.) allow you to lay digital content in the cloud so that it maybe accessed later. Imagine this in downtown Athens (I am a Dawg after all – GO DAWGS!). You can take photos of specific objects or locations on your scavenger hunt. With a mobile device, these can be assembled online for you or your learners to go and interact with a later point in time. The nature of this type of experience, then, changes the way you interact with that point in space at this particular point in time.

An Immersive Experience in Time

If part of your scavenger hunt was to find historical objects and location (e.g. double-barred cannon and the Civil War, Georgia Theater and REM, the UGA arch and Civil Rights) then you can immerse someone more heavily into content associated with the history of those points and locations. In this way we have the ability to transform how someone interacts with their current environment and immerse them more heavily in that environment and the history of that environment in a very unique way.

Sounds Like a Gimmick – Where’s the Learnin’?

Glad you asked. Yes, this is sort of gimmicky. It has the potential to stay technology-focused and lose novelty quickly. Unless… (queue the sinister transition music).

You guessed it. Unless we can find a way to elevate the quality of content so that the experience is immersive in a way that tickles our curiosity and invites us to dive more deeply into the information surrounding a location in a specific point in time. I’ll have more on this in the near future…but hint hint – it has to do with instructional design!

Did I pique your interest?

Good. I cannot do justice to the full magnificence of this idea and the reality of it (which I am currently working on) in a single post. (Well, I could, but it’d be a long and painfully boring post…)

Instead, my goal is to explore the idea of Immersive Overlays™ over several posts. I want to give real examples. I want to give you a chance to experience immersion. I want you to see how this connects strongly to key cognitive theories about learning, like conceptual change and situated learning. I know you want to know more…

All in good time. For now, let this idea marinate.


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