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UTSA Examines Augmented Reality Books For Teachers

Ilna Colemere holds an iPad over a children's nonfiction book about the solar system. 

"So we're gonna access the camera and you hold it over and eventually" Colemere trails off while maneuvering the iPad over the page.

As we watch, suddenly the music fades up from the iPad, and a three-dimensional sun rises from the two-dimensional book with the planets quickly orbiting it. 

This is augmented reality. Using a smartphone or iPad and an app from the book's publisher, you can see a wealth of unseen content, self-narrating books, or ones with 3D models. 

"Just my experience as a classroom teacher, I think it is very engaging. It challenges students to think outside the box."

Credit Paul Flahive
Books leap off the page in another book about the joys of reading.

Colemere is an instructional technology coordinator at the University of Texas San Antonio. It's her job to stay up to date on technology being used in the classroom and lead workshops on that tech for future educators. This year, she and her colleagues at the College of Education Library have added a modest 25 children's titles to explore how they can be used by teachers.

This is the first school year the books are available.

"I believe it is going to have a huge impact on comprehension, on concepts of print, possibly word recognition," says Colemere.

Publishers have been working on AR books for several years, but research on their effect on learning is still thin, says Colemere. She will soon host workshops with San Antonio teachers on what they think of the tech and its implications.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org