This will serve as the base for all your activities. The pages here don’t need be fancy, but rather act as a hub connecting the players and the activities. A free blogging site such as WordPress or Blogger will allow you to rapidly assemble and organize pages, though their customization and layout options are rather limited. However, for the purposes of this game, they are typically sufficient. This approach lets you cobble together an attractive site without coding skills, though some basic HTML knowledge can be helpful. Unfortunately, if you have those skills, the free and low-cost site plans often prevent you from fully taking advantage of them. On the plus side, they don’t require user login through an LMS and are often designed to automatically be mobile friendly.
I chose WordPress and decided to upgrade my account to the Personal plan. For $2/month, I can have my own domain name – something important to me for professional reasons apart from FrançaisMon GO. It also comes with a few extra features that I found helpful.
This is the tricky part. Just because you can do something on your phone doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good fit for this sort of activity. Focus on your learning objectives and how the task you design will further student progress towards them.
Vary your activities! Don’t ask students to do the same essential task over and over. Take the opportunity to diversify your teaching methods and differentiate assessment. This is where you can be creative and let students be creative as well! Let them show their understanding of a concept in non-traditional ways, such as drawing (AwwApp), creating photos and videos (phone camera, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). Depending on your field and topic, there may be some specialized sites or apps to include!
Try to limit how many apps you ask students to download. If possible, stick to activities that use the phone’s native features, widespread apps, and sites that are mobile friendly.
Adding in a dash of competition never hurt either. Sites like Quizlet let you make mobile-friendly matching games that allow players to compete for high scores. There are a myriad of similar quiz and polling sites, all with different combinations of features: Socrative, Kahoot, PollEverywhere, PollDaddy, Qzzr, Quiz-Maker, etc. You could even use modified Google Forms!
Some of these sites feature automatically generated leaderboards, though nothing says you couldn’t create your own! Simply make a dedicated page on your site and update it regularly.
An important part of any augmented reality activity is actual reality. Be sure that at least some of your activities have players engaging with the real world. They might need to get information from someone at the QR code location, interact with something there, etc. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with other instructors and departments!
In FrançaisMon GO, I wanted students to practice all five communicative modes, so I worked hard to vary my activities. I tried to limit typing and instead had them take advantage of the phone’s features such as the camera and microphone to take pictures, videos, and short recordings. I also had them engage in conversations with French-speaking staff and interpret French versions of Broward College items, such as the café menu.
No matter the kind of activity you create, try to build in measures to “cheat proof” the task. Students will work together, but design activities that elicit individualized responses and creations. It’s also a good idea to have back-up instructions in the event that a student doesn’t have a phone or is sharing with someone else.
This goes hand-in-hand with your activity design. Decide ahead of time when you want students to complete the activities. In class? Out of class? During a short break?) and how long they should spend in order to complete them. Remember that although this may be a great end-of-term review activity, students are often swamped with other exams and assignments and may be less keen on completing a time-consuming bonus activity outside of class time.
The average player spent about 2 hours on FrançaisMon GO, with those who completed it investing about 4 hours.
Once you’ve decided on the activity, it’s time to put the page together! You’ll likely have a link to the selected site and in addition to text instructions, you can easily add photos and embed YouTube videos. There are often “Contact Forms” you can embed as well, which let you create text input, drop-down menus, multiple choice, and other submission forms. Some lower-tier blog plans don’t allow embedding of certain complex items. Many quizzes and interactive games that can be embedded on other sites thus won’t work properly. In this case, just make an outside link to them instead. After you’ve set up the activity, be sure to include a way for players to receive their reward (e.g. a link to a follow-up page).
Always make your links to outside pages open in a new tab! More than one player has lost their work by clicking a link too early.
Now that all of the activities are created and pages properly set up, how can students easily access them? This is where QR codes come in. Using a free QR creation site (e.g. QRStuff), simply copy and paste the URL of your activity page and VOILÀ! – a QR code you can download and print. They can even be scanned from another screen, so students could use their phones to scan a projector screen or computer monitor.
QR codes don’t have to be black and white! As long as there is high contrast, many QR readers are sensitive enough to still read them. QRStuff.com lets you choose an output color, and with editing software you can even work in subtle color designs. Just be sure to test it out with your scanner first to guarantee it can still be read!