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Mobile Learning: Benefits of Augmented Reality in Geometry Teaching


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As a consequence of the technological advances and the widespread use of mobile devices to access information and communication in the last decades, mobile learning has become a spontaneous learning model, providing a more flexible and collaborative technology-based learning. Thus, mobile technologies can create new opportunities for enhancing the pupils’ learning experiences. This chapter presents the development of a game to assist teaching and learning, aiming to help students acquire knowledge in the field of geometry. The game was intended to develop the following competences in primary school learners (8-10 years): a better visualization of geometric objects on a plane and in space; understanding of the properties of geometric solids; and familiarization with the vocabulary of geometry. Findings show that by using the game, students have improved around 35% the hits of correct responses to the classification and differentiation between edge, vertex, and face in 3D solids.
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Chapter 12
Mobile Learning:
Benefits of Augmented Reality in Geometry Teaching
Rui Leitão
Loughborough University, UK
João M.F. Rodrigues
Universidade do Algarve & LARSyS, Portugal
Adérito Fernandes Marques
Universidade Aberta, Portugal
As a consequence of the technological advances and the widespread use of mobile devices to access
information and communication in the last decades, mobile learning has become a spontaneous learning
model, providing a more flexible and collaborative technology-based learning. Thus, mobile technologies
can create new opportunities for enhancing the pupils’ learning experiences. This paper presents the
development of a game to assist teaching and learning, aiming to help students acquire knowledge in the
field of geometry. The game was intended to develop the following competences in primary school learners
(8-10 years): a better visualization of geometric objects on a plane and in space; understanding of the
properties of geometric solids; and familiarization with the vocabulary of geometry. Findings show that by
using the game, students have improved around 35% the hits of correct responses to the classification and
differentiation between edge, vertex and face in 3D solids.
Keywords: Education technology, Mobile devices, M-learning, Game-based learning (GBL), Extraneous
Cognitive Load, Design Thinking, Concept Design, Augmented Reality, Geometry.
Mobile platforms are now part of young people’s life. Their pervasiveness makes them an ideal vehicle for
the development of educational content both for classroom activities and informally. The possibility of
learning anywhere and at any time is one of the most remarkable features of mobile learning. The past years
have seen a great increase in mobile learning, alongside a larger offer of contents and technological
possibilities and a greater interest among people in buying and using mobile platforms. Mobile technologies
are becoming more embedded, ubiquitous and networked, with enhanced capabilities for rich social
interactions, context awareness and internet connectivity. Such technologies could have a great impact on
learning (Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula, & Sharples, 2004). As a research field, mobile learning is relatively
new. According to Catenazzi & Sommaruga (2013, p. 9), ‘the first initiatives date back to the last decades
of the 1900s, but the wide diffusion of mobile learning took place starting from 2000 as a result of the large
availability of mobile technologies’.
Mayer (2005) describes the cognitive theory of multimedia learning as several cognitive processes that
include the selection of relevant visual and verbal materials, organization of these visual and verbal mental
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5023-5.ch012
representations in coherent structures in working memory (short-term memory), and integrating the
representations among themselves and with prior knowledge. The author also refers to the importance of
design to prime these different cognitive processes in order to create multimedia instructional messages, in
other words, to communicate containing images and words intended to foster learning (Mayer, 2005).
Furthermore, the Cognitive Load Theory complements this process model by describing three types of
cognitive load: intrinsic cognitive load, which describes the natural complexity of the information, germane
cognitive load, which describes the amount of mental effort in the acquisition of knowledge by the learner
in comprehending the materials, and extraneous cognitive load, which describes processing demands of
information that is not directly related to the learning task, but to the manner in which instruction materials
are designed. (Sweller, 2010). Therefore, in this cognitive perspective, the design of educational materials
has effects on the cognitive process.
Pupils’ motivation is probably one of the most important factors for teachers in the enhancement of the
learning process (Williams & Williams, 2011). Motivation is an inner state which stimulates pupils to
engage in a certain task (Lei, 2010). In this context, by promoting entertainment and voluntary performance,
games are related to a cognitive process of intrinsic motivation (Dichev, Dicheva, Angelova, & Agre, 2014).
Given the current technological possibilities and the popularity of games, the interest in games in a learning
context has been on the rise (Bie & Lipman, 2012; Razak, Connolly, Baxter, Hainey, & Wilson, 2012;
Hamari, Koivisto, & Sarsa, 2014; Schlagenhaufer & Amberg, 2015; Cheng, 2017). Sales, user statistics and
public opinion polls are all evidence that computer games have become a dominant entertainment. Tobias
and Fletcher (2011) state that, for the same reason, it is hardly surprising that teachers and trainers in
different sectors consider the use of games in the teaching and learning process. Games and cognition are
deeply intertwined and, with the advent of computer games, new scientific interests in this relationship have
emerged (Gamberini, Barresi, Majer, & Scarpetta, 2008).
Primary-school learners experience difficulty in developing and consolidating their spatial sense, namely
the visualization and the understanding of the properties of geometric figures on a plane and in space. They
also present difficulties in acquiring the vocabulary associated to geometrical concepts such as face, edge,
vertex, plane, prism, pyramid, cylinder, cone, sphere, among others.
In educational practice, physical objects are commonly used to establish a socially shared meaning.
Physical objects support collaboration both by their appearance, the physical affordances they have, their
use as semantic representations, their spatial relationships, and their ability to help focus attention
(Billinghurst, 2002, p. 3). The development of a game to be used in the teaching of primary-school
geometry, whose main purpose was to develop learners' spatial sense, with emphasis on visualization could
be of major importance to improve these pupils’ competences, in addition, the union of the game with
augmented reality could bring same advantages. Augmented reality (AR) offers functionalities which
improve immersion, interaction and imagination, experiences connected to the constructivist principles of
learning. Moreover, AR offers an intimate relationship between virtual and physical objects in real time.
This paper presents an AR game for primary-school learners (8-10 years old), aimed to facilitate the
appropriation and the interpretation of geometric solids and 3D objects. The main objective of the game
was to help students develop a better visualization ability; a better understanding of the properties of
geometric solids in space; and familiarization with the vocabulary of geometry. The technology in this
project was used to “augment” the visual field of the user with the information necessary in the performance
of the tasks. The camera detected position (AR) markers which then generated virtual 3D objects, where
the student was taken to learn the concepts of edge, vertex and face. The game allowed the teacher and the
learner to engage in experimental operations in real time and at the same time. Learners adopted a natural
interactive method and enjoyed the experience in a real environment, without resorting to the mouse or the
keyboard. The teaching context was assumed to be favourable to the experimentation with new
teaching/learning models given the low cost of AR technology as well as the presence of necessary
infrastructure within schools.
The next section will present the state of the art. Then, the steps and the process of the conceptual design
involved in the development of the game will be described. Afterwards, the evaluation of the prototype and
further research avenues will be presented. Finally, the last section contains a discussion and proposals for
future work.
Connections between play and education for both adults and children have already existed for a long time.
According to A. Krentz (Krentz, 1998), 'etymologically in Greek the terms “paideia” the word for
education/culture, “paida” the word for play/pastime/sport and “paides the word for children, have the
same root, and the three terms often show up in the same context (Krentz, 1998, p. 5). Although the
relationship between the words play and children may suggest that play is more connected with children's
activities instead of adults', the term extends to activities we might not consider as laborious, serious, or
solemn. The term play, in the context of the ancient Greek texts, is built on the opposite of the term work,
which in the mainly agrarian context of Greek life had connotations of agricultural labour (D’Angour,
In Plato's Republic, the connection between play and education is central. Krentz (1998) states that in order
to understand Plato's philosophical message it is necessary to pay close attention to the 'connection between
education/culture (paideia), and the pedagogical approach (paidagogia) to teaching and learning that are to
be carried out in the community. The central aim of pedagogy (paidagogia) is to encourage learning as a
form of play (paidia), which is the most persuasive and effective approach to learning for free citizens in a
society which honours philosophers' (Krentz, 1998, p. 6). According to Jane McGonigal, the ancient Greek
Herodotus reported the use of game-playing in society by a king to distract his citizens from a famine
(McGonigal, 2011). More recently, in the early Soviet era, game elements were used by the Soviet Union
leaders as a substitute for monetary incentives for performing at work (Dicheva, Dichev, Agre, & Angelova,
One of the early and best-known projects in the field which combines games and AR in an education context
is Construct3D (Hannes, 2004). Construct3D is a major project that resulted in a geometric construction
tool especially designed for the teaching of mathematics and geometry in secondary and tertiary education.
It allows the visualization of three-dimensional (3D) objects which so far had to be calculated and
constructed by means of traditional methods. AR is used as a way of improving interfaces for a future
generation, allowing students to work directly in a 3D space. Despite the advantage of free hand
movements, in this project the use of a Head Mounted Display (HMD) was a necessary tool, and the
possibility of mobility in other spaces was not accessible. In the opinion of Akçayir and Akçayir (2017),
one of the principal reasons why AR technology is so widely used at present is that it no longer requires
expensive hardware and sophisticated equipment, such as HMD. The authors state that ‘the technology now
can be used with computers or mobile devices. Thus, using AR technology is not as difficult as it was in
the past. It is used today in every level of schooling, from K-12 to the University level(Akçayır & Akçayır,
2017, p. 1).
A study by Lin et al. (2015) who integrated AR into teaching activities to assist K-12 students in learning
solid geometry revealed, among other findings, that AR-assisted teaching has a favourable effect on
students with low academic achievement. Perceptions indicated a low feeling of task load experienced by
most users and, after AR-assisted teaching, student performances from the experimental groups improved,
although the experimental and control groups did not differ significantly from each other.
In a previous study by these authors, the findings were that teaching geometry by means of information
technology enhances students’ comprehension of abstract mathematical concepts. They present as a
possible reason that image-based teaching can help students to focus their attention (Lin et al., 2015). In
addition to this, previous studies also confirmed that the use of three-dimensional dynamic multimedia in
teaching geometry may encourage the curiosity of students, support their active learning and increase their
achievement in geometry (Erbas & Yenmez, 2011).
In the last four years the number of AR studies in the field of education has increased (Cheng, 2017) and
one the most reported advantage is that it promotes enhanced learning achievements (Akçayır & Akçayır,
2017). In science learning, studies have shown that students often hold robust misconceptions about several
scientific ideas and that digital simulations and dynamic visualization tools have helped to increase the
learning outcomes by providing scaffolding to understand different aspects of the contents (Yoon,
Anderson, Lin, & Elinich, 2017). According to the authors, AR has the potential to augment users’
interactions, engagement, and experiences and has revealed numerous affordances for science learning,
includingsupporting students’ scientific spatial ability, by (a) allowing them to manipulate and learn
content in three-dimensional perspectives; (b) engaging them in scientific inquiry by encouraging them to
make observations, ask questions, collaborate with others, and investigate and interpret data; and (c)
enhancing their conceptual understanding by enabling them to visualize invisible or abstract concepts or
events(Yoon et al., 2017, p. 158). In a project that investigated optimal uses of AR in science museums,
Yoon et al. (2017) found that students who interact with an exhibit using AR are better able to understand
the science concepts than students in a non-AR condition. Furthermore, an experimental study by Lin et al.
(2013), which intended to validate the correlation between spatial ability and mathematics performance,
revealed that spatial ability and mathematics scores are highly correlated.
Moreover, with the increasing demand for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
professionals in a worldwide innovation and global economics, STEM disciplines are viewed as a means
of developing citizens’ scientific literacy. Despite this panorama, Hsu et al. (2017) state that readiness and
motivation on the part of students to pursue STEM majors and careers seem to be decreasing. Through a
study developed with high school students in which they had learning experiences with AR lessons, the
authors reported students’ feedback that they felt inspired to deepen their knowledge, understood the
importance of a transdisciplinary work for the innovation and creativity needed in futures places, and felt
motivated to choose STEM-related majors at university (Hsu, Lin, & Yang, 2017). In other words, in
addition to all the advantages mentioned by different authors about the use of AR in the context of teaching,
the use of this technology also seems to have the capacity to motivate students both to feel more interest in
deepening their knowledge about the contexts in question as well as in the field of technologies where AR
is inserted. According to Squire and Jan (2007) ‘science education needs to prepare students for a future
world in which multiple representations are the norm and adults are required to “think like scientists” (…)
and AR games offer an opportunity to create a “post-progressive” pedagogy in which students are not only
immersed in authentic scientific inquiry, but also required to perform in adult scientific discourses(Squire
& Jan, 2007, p. 5).
Despite the various advantages, technical limitations associated with AR can also be found in the literature.
According to Akçayır and Akçayır (2017), without a well-designed interface and guidance for the students,
AR technology can be too complicated for them to use. The authors also found that the various devices that
deliver AR applications may cause additional technical problems as well that bulky AR technologies such
as HMDs are not easy to handle, therefore AR technologies should be developed to be smaller, lighter,
more portable, and fast enough to display graphics.
With the complexity of design problems increasing dramatically in the last decades, the need to use a
method has become more important in the development of a design project. Although we can find design
process tendencies in very different places and in different tasks, they all end up having in common the
inclusion of the end user (Foo & Mårtensson, 2016). Therefore, there are several methods to achieve goals
in design projects bearing in mind end users, deadlines etc.
Design thinking is a process of addressing problems in the development of a product, which can facilitate
innovation and open up alternatives, not only lead to artefact creation. According to Liedtka (2013), when
the individual elements of design thinking are combined and viewed together as a system from the
beginning to the end aimed at solving problems, it emerges as a clearly distinctive way of thinking. The
concept offers a unique integration framework that brings together both the creative and the analytical
reasoning modes. Moreover, it is accompanied by a process and a set of tools and techniques (Liedtka,
2013). Brown (2008) reinforces the idea that design thinking must be present from the very beginning in
order to be part of the creation process and increase the possibility to generate more ideas. Through this
process, the author claims that the development is faster than by any other means (Brown, 2008).
In addition to technological considerations, the process should consider human behaviour, its needs and
preferences. A human-centred project, especially when it includes observation-based research, will reflect
more precisely people’s needs.
The first step in any process should be understanding what project is being developed and why. In this
stage, a mode of participatory design known as Bodystorming was adopted. Bodystorming emerged in the
1950s (Osborn, 1963) and is often considered a way to generate ideas and a form of start prototyping in
context ( Oulasvirta, Kurvinen, & Kankainen, 2003; Oppegaard & Still, 2013; Foo & Mårtensson, 2016;).
According to Maguire (2001a), the awareness of context issues grew in the mid-1980s, promoted by the
work of Whiteside and his colleagues who found that although many products performed well in their
laboratory experiments, they did not work when transferred to the real world. They put this down to the
fact that the research often overlooked something crucial to the context in which the product would be used’
(Maguire, 2001a, p. 454). Thus, design sessions were carried out in the natural context, in a classroom,
instead of being lab-based.
In the case of the project/application described in this paper, since one of the authors taught in this field, it
was possible to carry out these sessions in two classes and understand the problems in a learning and
teaching context. He observed that a substantial part of pupils revealed difficulty in understanding the third
dimension of geometric solids, namely depth. One of the found difficulties was related to the explanatory
process since two-dimensional drawings on the blackboard were used to represent three-dimensional
objects. During these sessions, in randomly chosen classes, the pupils were asked about their use of
smartphones, if they used to play games and what kind of games they used to play, as well questions related
with geometric solids and the third dimension. The observation of the pupils’ discussion and activities
provided meanings and interpretations which were introduced in the interaction design process of the game.
The next step was the definition of objectives, the identification of expected behaviours and the description
of players. The game “vertice” (see Fig. 1) aimed to facilitate learning about and interpreting geometric
solids and 3D objects; namely, to enable learners to develop their capacity for visualization, their
understanding of the properties of geometric solids in space and their familiarization with the vocabulary
of geometry. At the same time, fun was expected to be an essential component of the experience. The
expected behaviour was that the player (learner) would play the game and continue to play it via a user-
centred, highly engaging interface.
In this context, the name for the game and the first sketches (Fig. 1) emerged. Several studies implied that
different aesthetic designs can induce emotions and that these emotions affect users’ performance and
cognitive process and, moreover, the users positive perceptions suggested that positive emotions were
produced by the different design of multimedia elements such as visual design principles, design layout,
colour, and sound’(Um & Plass, 2012, p. 7).
Figure 1. Conceptual design, different phases of the process
The design process ordinarily starts with a conceptual idea of the envisaged product when its design
parameters are still vague and incomplete. During the working process, the final product can be represented
concretely in the form of drawings or computer models (Bayer et al., 2015). Prototyping is about the visual
representations of complex systems and interaction models that meet high levels of design and usability.
Although we can find several definitions of prototype in software engineering and human-computer
interaction (Alperowitz, Weintraud, Kofler, & Bruegge, 2017), most practitioners will agree on the general
meaning of a dynamic prototype as a working model under construction. Despite the importance of drawing
to complete this process successfully, prototyping is not about improving the ability to draw, but about the
intellectual and physical freedom to express ideas easily and spontaneously. Different forms of prototyping
can help narrow the search for a solution in different phases of the process and these were also employed
in the reported project (Fig. 2).
In early stages of designing the user interface of applications, sketching and wireframing are useful as a
communication medium to explore, express, detect usability issues and communicate the design intentions
(James & Brad, 2001; Murugappan, Piya, Yang, & Ramani, 2017; Sanchez Ramon, Garcia Molina, Sachez
Cuadrado, & Vanderdonckt, 2013). This flexibility is particularly important to sketch rough design ideas
quickly, to test designs by interacting with them and to fill in the design details as it becomes necessary to
make choices. Sketching is basically a freehand drawing that gives a low-fidelity representation of the
application. It is also considered a fast way to generate an idea for brainstorming. Several kinds of tools are
used as part of the design process for expressive design representations (Coyette, Kieffer, & Vanderdonckt,
2007). Since conceptual sketching is characterized by ambiguity and the need to create several design
variations quickly, these tools must support flexibility. According to James and Brad (2001) sketching with
a pen is a mode of informal and perceptual interaction that has been shown to be especially valuable for
creative design tasks. For designers, the ability to rapidly sketch objects with uncertain types, sizes, shapes,
and positions is important to the creative process. This uncertainty, or ambiguity, encourages the designer
to explore more ideas without being burdened by concern for inappropriate details such as colours, fonts,
and precise alignment(James & Brad, 2001, p. 57).
Figure 2. Sketching phase
As the design process evolves, the used representations move towards a higher level of detail and fidelity.
Although a wireframe is still considered a low fidelity representation, wireframing tools are used to refine
the concepts that come out of sketching and they frequently offer some facilities to generate mock-ups and
prototypes (Sanchez Ramon et al., 2013). Without the distraction of graphic design, wireframes show
layout, content and functionalities and sizes are almost pixel perfect. Wireframes can be also hand-drawn.
In this phase, the representations of every important piece of the product are focused on basic structural
issues and usually they have the appearance of a set of boxes.
Although sketches and wireframes as low-fidelity models are very helpful in the early stages of the design
process and offer a clear set of advantages compared to high-fidelity prototyping (Coyette et al., 2007),
they are insufficient in validating ideas and concepts. Thus, mock-ups help to define and refine the
requirements by providing certain functionalities and contribute to new features in later phases of the
project. They are very useful to define the overall interaction of the user with the application (Alperowitz
et al., 2017) and to test. They are much easier, cheaper and quicker to make than a functional prototype in
which studies and experiments are often more complex and less clean (Schmidt & Albrecht, 2017). Thus,
this step is important for getting to the prototype phase. There are several kinds of tools to create mock-ups
regarding the form, precision, interactivity and feasibility (e.g. Axure, Balsamiq, Sketch for interactive
mock-ups; Illustrator, Photoshop and paper for a different interaction approach) and some services offer
the possibility to execute the mock-up on a mobile platform (Alperowitz et al., 2017). Figure 3 shows part
of the mock-up of two mobile screens with some interaction information for the developed application,
produced with vector graphics software.
Figure 3. An example of a part of a mock-up of two mobile screens with some interaction information, produced with the
Illustrator software
Since engagement was expected to be an essential component of the experience for the pupils interacting
with the AR application, some game elements and game mechanics were incorporated: engagement cycles
to familiarize the learner with the game environment, and progression cycles which represent the different
levels of difficulty and competences. Regarding the engagement cycles, an initial, very simple scenario was
created, consisting of only one area of a plane which presented the player with only one vertex. For a better
engagement with this cycle and to minimize the rejection by the player, the area which he/she was expected
to touch was highlighted by means of a red flashing light, as shown in Fig. 4 left. At the same time, the
player heard an instruction: “Touch the vertex”. After players’ interaction with the vertex, feedback on their
action was immediate, rendering them capable of interpreting their choice against the objective. A score
was attributed and an encouragement was heard: “Very well, congratulations!”. This step was repeated with
the introduction of new objects. The continuous iteration of this cycle action-feedback-interpretation
aimed to help learners to develop their cognitive abilities gradually and to get used to the interface.
The end of these three engagement cycles also marked the end of the first level which introduced the concept
of vertex. The second level maintained the same approach, but this new progression cycle introduced the
concept of edge. Again, players were presented with three engagement cycles which increased
progressively in their degree of difficulty. The third level brought the last of these engagement cycles,
meant to allow learners to experience the game and at the same time acquire knowledge on basic concepts.
This third level was another progression cycle which transferred knowledge on the concept of face by means
of the same approach which assisted the player through the signalling of the area which he/she was expected
to indicate. After these first cycles, the signalling was eliminated and new objects were presented, the first
ones always with very simple structures, followed by increasingly complex structures.
Finally, to test and to demonstrate the feasibility of the functionality of the product while it is still possible
to take risks, the use of prototypes provides several benefits and a basis for discussion in order to explore
the product requirements (Schmidt & Albrecht, 2017). Hence prototypes allow to explore how the
technology works and what it feels like to use it. Tools to produce high-fidelity models must enable building
a user interface that looks complete and equipped with a wide range of editing functions for all graphic user
interface (GUI) and heads-up displays (HUD) that should be usable.
In an initial stage, pre-production, the first components to be developed were the graphical user interfaces
(GUIs). The initial panels, the score indicators, the level in which the player finds him/herself, the buttons
and their behaviours, and the data introduction toolbars were built in vector graphics format. Next, these
were exported to a .png format for a potential use of the images with transparency features and without a
background. It was then necessary to draw the 3D objects, which were created in Blender (“Blender,” 2017)
given its ease of usage and its free availability. All the drawings, already with the division of objects
according to the interaction needs for the vertex, edge and face elements, were exported to the Autodesk
FBX format (.fbx). The design of the recognition pattern (marker) represented the next step. A drawing
was developed in A4 size, with some images of geometric figures and with the image which represented
the game icon. Care was taken to draw an image which contained the necessary information, but which, at
the same time, contemplated economical printing in greyscale. The marker was prepared using the Vuforia
developer portal (“Vuforia,” 2017). The instructions on the expected actions as well as the feedback phrases
to confirm or question the player’s choices were recorded, for which Audacity 2.0.4 (“Audacity,” 2017)
was used. More detailed information can be found in Leitão, Rodrigues and Marcos (2014, p. 69).
Figure 4. Construction of solid geometric figures and exportation from blender
In the second stage of the implementation, all the developed components referred to above were imported
into Unity3D (“Unity 3D,” 2017). The Unity scenes corresponded to the levels. Therefore, in the first
scene, which was named “start” and which corresponded to level 0, the icon for the game was introduced,
as well as the two buttons to start or to quit the game. This stage worked with the Main Camera, present by
default in Unity, since there were no immersive stages yet. The game objects named GUI Textures served
to introduce the images and then to position, rescale or turn them as desired. A folder called Resources was
created to which all the designed GUI were imported in .png format in order to take advantage of the
transparencies. The importance of the transparencies resided in the fact that sometimes the interfaces would
superimpose themselves onto the images viewed by the camera. Similar steps were followed for the sound.
Once the sound was selected, it was indicated into the Inspector panel that it should be heard on starting the
game ('Play on Awake') and that it should stay in constant rotation ('Loop'). For the two buttons, it was first
necessary to create two 3D Text game objects, and then to apply to each of them a script developed in Java
in order to obtain the interaction.
In level 1, where the game effectively began, the marker was first integrated with the Vuforia extension.
After making the registration in the application’s online platform, it was necessary to create a database
where the marker image was processed to immediately after download a file and import it into Unity 3D.
The Vuforia application offers two types of databases. The Devise Database, was chosen as being the most
appropriate for the simplicity of the project. Inside Unity, the installation of the extension Vuforia for
Android and iOS was necessary. After this step, it was necessary to delete the Main Camera which comes
by default with Unity 3D and replace it with the AR Camera which Vuforia provides for RA applications.
Afterwards, the marker (Image Target Prefab) had to be added to the stage and configured. The Image
Target (images which Vuforia SDK can detect and follow) as well as the AR Camera are located in the
folder Qualcomm Augmented reality/Prefabs. All that was needed was drag and drop inside Hierarchy, to
introduce the marker which would determine the position of the objects.
In the Inspector panel, with the AR Camera selected, it was required to add the script 'Data Set Load
Behaviour' and activate it. Similarly, with the image target selected, it was necessary, in the script 'Image
Target Behaviour', to configure the Data Set component with the marker to be used and, automatically, in
the stage view, it was possible to view the marker. It was also essential to create a light point for a better
visualization. In this case, a directional light was applied in order to illuminate the whole scene. The stage
was now set for the introduction of the 3D models. The important point here was to maintain the model
subordinated to the Image Target and, afterwards, to position and scale it as desired in the scene itself.
At this level, two GUI Textures were introduced for the .png images, one corresponding to the information
on the current level and another to the score background. A GUI Text was also added to the score
background for the updating of the score points. In this case, since the information was not an image but a
text, a semi-bold sans serif font was chosen for better legibility. The colour was chosen to create a good
contrast with the background. It was important at this stage to subordinate these GUI to the AR Camera.
The animations were tackled next. In this application, they consisted of flashing which indicated the point
of contact. Previously in the development of 3D models, care was taken to separate the contact points as
different objects, which facilitated the animations and the action attributions. With only the vertex selected,
in animation (in a process similar to other animation and video software) the colour was changed and its
constant rotation (loop) was activated in a space of 30 frames. In this way, the flashing effect was obtained
by means of a gradient towards red and then with a gradual return to its original colour. A Java script was
also attributed, similar to the one attributed to the buttons in the initial stage, which this time indicated the
passage to the next level and the attribution to the val GUI (GUI text) of the first points. Finally, the sound
was added: the initial sound corresponded to the expected action and then the feedback to the performed
As initially envisaged, in a process of simplification of all the structures, all the levels were developed in
the same way. It was only necessary to change the models in Image Targets, position, scale and turn them
as desired, and reproduce the animations. Additionally, the Android Developer Tools had to be installed in
order to allow the connectivity of the game with an Android device. For this purpose, it was necessary to
indicate its localization in the Unity 3D options in external tools. The Unity Remote application allows the
Android device to function as a remote controller of the Unity3D editor project. In this way, the
development turns to be faster since one does not have to constantly compile and implement in the Android
device every time the project needs to be visualized following further modifications (see Unity, 2017).
The evaluation of the prototype was carried out in a public primary school in Portugal, which was receptive
to the project since one of the authors had been teaching there for several years. The evaluation took place
at the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year and involved two classes (53 pupils, 30 girls and 23 boys,
aged 8-10). In the first class, with 27 pupils, the geometric concepts of vertex, edge and face were explained
verbally and by means of drawings on the whiteboard (Class 1) control class. In the second class (Class
2), with 26 pupils, in addition to a short, simplified explanation like that provided to Class 1, the game was
presented to the children. It was also explained to them how the game worked with AR, similar to the
process employed in more popular games (such as Invizimals of PlayStation Portable or more recently
Pokemon Go of Niantic, Inc.). The children were also told that they were going to hear instructions during
the game and were shown the image that served as marker, towards which they had to direct the device.
Figure 5. Experimental group in interaction with the game
Children were given the opportunity to interact with the game. Initially, each pupil interacted with the game
individually, but after a while more and more pupils gathered around the player: some who had not had
their turn yet to satisfy their curiosity, and others, who had already played, to offer help. The game ran
generally smoothly and pupils encountered little difficulty. Although the sound was not always at its best,
which could prejudice the understanding of the action required, it did not affect the course of the game
thanks to the visual signals present in the first levels, which were meant to create greater involvement with
the game. The tendency to use the smartphone horizontally was noted in all children, probably related to
their use of PlayStation Portable. More detailed information can be found in Leitão, Rodrigues and Marcos
After these sessions, the students in both classes were asked to complete a test according to the learning
outcomes in order to get information on their learning. It consisted of several figures in black with the edge,
or the vertex or the face highlighted. For each figure a form with a checkbox was presented, allowing the
student to select one of the options edge/vertex/face. The results for Class 1 were as follows: 33.3% pupils
identified the edge, 55.6% pupils identified the vertex and 59.3% identified the face. In Class 2, they were
the following: 84.6% pupils identified the edge, 88.5% the vertex and 88.5% the face. Overall, in Class 1
(control class) after the presentation and work done by the teacher, the students hit correctly 49.4% of the
questions, and in Class 2 the students hit correctly 87.2% of the questions (Fig. 6).
Figure 6. Left: Percentages of correct answers by evaluated item. Right: overall percentage of correct answers
As noticed, there was a great difference in the learning of the concepts between the pupils in Class 1 and
Class 2. One of the reasons could result from the pupils’ level of concentration during the explanation of
the concepts, without the game, in Class 1. Explanation is a traditional method for knowledge transmission,
implying a passive attitude and little engagement for the pupils. Additionally, in Class 2, the game served
to repeat various times the concepts through interaction and experimentation, which contributed to the
consolidation of knowledge.
The small sample size employed in the study represented one limitation. Carrying out the experiment in a
larger number of classes and schools would be important to get a better 'validation' of how much the game
can improve learning. In this case, the experiment led to an increase of almost 35% of correct answers when
playing the game when compared with traditional teaching. In the future, the game can also be extended to
other geometrical concepts such as plane, prism, pyramid, cylinder, cone, sphere, etc. Another limitation
was not to have done a prior test in order to assess the children’s knowledge of geometric concepts before
the explanation or the interaction with the game. This meant that it was not possible to determine whether
the learning occurred only during the class in which the concepts of vertex, face and edge were presented
to them (by one method or the other), or whether the children already had some previous knowledge. A
third area which would have deserved more exploration was the children’s degree of contact and interaction
with technology and whether this had any influence on the results of the learning through the game. A
plausible hypothesis would be that children already familiar with technology (computers, smartphones,
tablets, etc.) find it easier to interact with the game and, consequently, derive greater benefit from it.
Similarly, future work could also include a study to establish the relationship between learning outcomes
and the children’s degree of familiarity with new technologies (types, usage frequency, level of difficulty,
purposes etc.). This would allow better precision in the evaluation of the game’s efficiency in the attainment
of learning outcomes.
Game-based learning (Muñoz, Lunney, Mc Kevitt, Noguez, & Neri, 2013; Razak et al., 2012) takes children
to immersive environments where they learn to use an impressive range of tools and complex machines.
Many hours are dedicated to the memorization of scenarios, during which they develop sophisticated tactics
to reach their objectives and win the game. In many cases, games are developed in collaboration with
children all over the world in an exchange of solutions. Eventually games can contribute to emotional and
social development, including different forms of cooperation and competition. Moreover, they allow
children to discover why rules are important and which ones work best. While playing, children direct their
attention to details in order to have the best possible performance in the game. In fact, these experiences
help children to develop more mature thinking and problem-solving abilities (Yatim & Masuch, 2007).
However, creating engaging game applications can be very difficult. As stated by Maguire (2001b),
‘human-centred system development is a collaborative process which benefits from the active involvement
of various parties, each of whom have insights and expertise to share. It is therefore important that the
development team be made up of experts with technical skills and those with a stake in the proposed
software’ (Maguire, 2001b, p. 589). Furthermore, is not a simple step to bring together a team.
The elaboration of the game “vertice” aimed to provide pupils with a learning tool which would facilitate
knowledge acquisition according to constructivist principles. Constructivism advocates that learners
should, through own experience (Huang, Rauch, & Liaw, 2010) build new knowledge upon the knowledge
they already possess, a process which allows each learner to have their own idiosyncratic version of a
specific piece of knowledge. In this way, knowledge is actively constructed by the learner, and not passively
absorbed from books or verbal explanations. The game “vertice” validated once again the statements of
several authors, that by playing games students learn to act, their curiosity is stimulated, they acquire
initiative and self-confidence and they develop better language skills, reasoning and concentration
(Przybylski, Rigby, & Ryan, 2010). The improvement of cognitive capacities as well as knowledge
acquisition are facilitated by exploration, action and experimentation. When associated to social interaction,
these methods, in fact, encourage more that just individual knowledge acquisition, but a collective
construction of knowledge and a negotiation of meanings (Silva & Silveira, 2012). The learning process
becomes more pleasant, different from a traditional class which implies passive knowledge reception. Such
methods promote active learning by means of active problem-solving (Boyle, Connolly, & Hainey, 2011).
According to Prensky (2005), when playing, individuals interact with the game environment and receive
immediate feedback on their actions, thus being able to interpret their choices in accordance with their
objectives. The continuous repetition of this cycle (action-feedback-interaction) allows players to develop
their cognitive capacities gradually. The teachers and learners (as also shown in our experiment) have
recognized that games can help the development of strategic thinking, planning, communication, numeracy,
negotiation skills, group decision-making and information processing (Kirriemuir & McFarlane, 2004).
Augmented reality is a growing field that can be explored for different applications adapted to every
knowledge area, presenting a great potential in education with the development of educational games. As
already mentioned, the game presented here demonstrated a capacity to awaken curiosity, motivation and
initiative among the children due to its engaging and interactive nature. Thanks to its novelty, the use of
AR stirred great interest on the part of the children during the game. From a pedagogical point of view, it
helped them attain the competences that the game aimed to develop: ability of visualization, the
understanding of the properties of geometric solids and familiarization with the vocabulary of geometry.
The pupils’ receptivity to the game was, as expected, very positive, since they came across curricular
content in a different and entertaining manner. The 3D model, especially given its powerful capacity of
representation, proved to be an efficient means to convey the concept of three-dimensionality, compared to
the bi-dimensional drawings on the whiteboard.
Design thinking was the problem-solving approach adopted in the development of the game. It implied
constant attention to the target audience, i.e., children/pupils. It was also an approach which sought to
achieve a balance between the objectives (improvement of pupils’ visualization abilities, their
understanding of the properties of geometric solids in space, familiarization with the vocabulary of
geometry) and the image and presentation, bearing in mind popular games in this age group. As a result,
the interfaces, which represent the information and the instructions for the pupil/user, were designed as
secondary elements in order to simplify usability and to interfere as little as possible with the camera vision.
Another constant concern was user-centeredness, meant to facilitate pupils’ learning and interaction with
the game, while not limiting their performance. The use of gamification techniques (Deterding, Dixon,
Khaled, & Nacke, 2011) whereby games and game elements were used in an educational context
facilitated the process of behaviour definition, which influenced interaction and motivation. In addition to
a scoring system that increased pupils’ motivation, the game dynamics allowed integrating educational
content with the game narrative.
A further development of the application could envisage responsive design which allows content to adapt
to screens of different sizes. The introduction of additional levels could also be an aspect worth exploring,
to include for instance more complex geometric solids and other types of difficulty (such as movement and
time). The sound, too, presents potential for further development, not only to improve its quality, but also
by employing a voice more suitable to the target group, by creating new soundtracks to accompany the
storyboard and by diversifying the interaction prompts and responses. Additionally, the introduction of
leaderboards would not only enable players to measure their progress, but also to compare it with that of
other players. And, finally, game analytics would be an easy means of tracking the players’ behaviour.
Through the collection and analysis of data, it would be possible to obtain feedback to improve design,
quality, and to identify errors and correct them.
The presented paper and application reinforces that which has already been referred to by other authors
(e.g. Kaufmann, 2004), namely that learning by means of games can significantly benefit learning outcomes
and the development of more mature thinking. The results suggest that the game-based learning with AR
has a positive effect on pupils’ content knowledge. The capacities of new technologies, the miniaturization
of devices, the universal access, the handy analysis of digital data, the ease of diffusion and update, the
bandwidth and, not least, the financial accessibility of means and resources, ensure good conditions for the
use of this type of games in teaching.
This research was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Design Star CDT
(AH/L503770/1), the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) projects LARSyS
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... Αναφορικά με τη χρήση των tablets για τη διδασκαλία μαθηματικών εννοιών και στοιχείων Γεωμετρίας, ισχύουν οι ίδιες διαπιστώσεις με άλλα γνωστικά αντικείμενα. Φαίνεται ότι τα μαθησιακά αποτελέσματα είναι ενθαρρυντικά (Sommerauer & Müller, 2014), ιδιαίτερα σε θέματα Γεωμετρίας (Leitão, Rodrigues, & Marcos, 2018) και στη διατηρησιμότητα των γνώσεων (Radu, Doherty, DiQuollo, McCarthy, & Tiu, 2015). Αυτό γιατί οι εφαρμογές για tablets φαίνεται να βοηθούν στην καλύτερη οπτικοποίηση αντικείμενων (Kaufmann, Steinbugl, Dunser, & Gluck, 2005), ενώ παράλληλα, υπάρχει θετικός αντίκτυπος στην χωρική ικανότητα των μαθητών (Radu et al., 2015) και στις ικανότητες επίλυσης περιγραφικών ασκήσεων (Gutiérrez de Ravé, Jiménez-Hornero, Ariza-Villaverde, & Taguas-Ruiz, 2016). ...
... Αντίθετα, υπήρξε διαφοροποίηση στη διατηρησιμότητα των γνώσεων, με την ομάδα που χρησιμοποίησε tablets να ξεπερνά τις άλλες δύο. Με βάση αυτές τις διαπιστώσεις, η παρούσα έρευνα διαφοροποιείται από εκείνες που υποστηρίξαν ότι η χρήση των tablets έχει θετική επίδραση (ενδεικτικά, Leitão, Rodrigues, & Marcos, 2018), αλλά βρίσκεται σε συμφωνία με εκείνες που διαπίστωσαν αυξημένη διατηρησιμότητα γνώσεων (ενδεικτικά, Radu et al., 2015). Η ερμηνεία των παραπάνω ως αποτυχία των tablets να παράξουν ικανοποιητικά μαθησιακά αποτελέσματα θα ήταν άστοχη. ...
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... In my second master's degree in Graphic and Audio-visual Expression from the Universidade Aberta (The Portuguese Open University), I researched educational technologies, specifically the teaching of geometric solids through a game-based learning approach. I developed a mobile game application with augmented reality as a research tool (Leitão et al., 2014(Leitão et al., , 2018b. I then continued developing work related to educational technologies, specifically in the area of science teaching. ...
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Envisioning, designing, and implementing the user interface require a comprehensive understanding of interaction technologies. In this forum we scout trends and discuss new technologies with the potential to influence interaction design. --- Albrecht Schmidt, Editor
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In this paper, we explore the possibility of embedding augmented reality (AR) in authentic inquiry activities to contextualize students’ exploration of medical surgery, and investigate students’ perceptions of the AR lessons and simulators, and their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) interest. Thirty-two senior high school students participated in the two AR lessons related to medical surgery, “laparoscopic surgery” and “cardiac catheterization.” The results showed that the students had positive perceptions of the AR lessons and simulators (overall mean = 4.1) after completing the two lessons. However, the authenticity of the simulators was perceived as the lowest ranking. In contrast, both the motivation and engagement triggered by the AR lessons were high, with most of the mean scores reaching 4.3. The AR lessons did evoke some students’ STEM interest as the survey results indicated that 12 students considered an STEM major in university. This study provides a possible solution for the alignment of instructional approaches (authentic inquiry), technology design (AR), and learning experience in developing STEM lessons.