Last week I attended the ELCC Conference and presented with Mary Cash, Save the Trees!, on open content courses including my use of NROC content in CCCOnline history courses. One of my favorite presentations at the conference was by Chris Luchs and Kae Novak on Augmented Reality Assignments.
Scenario based learning, Authentic Assessments, and Augmented Reality Assignments in many ways are the same concept with different names. As seen in the previous link, Augmented Reality Assignments can be an assignment conducted in a virtual space including Second Life, but I want to imagine this concept more like a Murder Mystery Dinner party in your online or face to face classroom.
Our students and instructors become players in a carefully constructed game created by Instructional Designers, Teachers, and Librarians. Students become the content experts and may be assigned various job titles like Curator, Archives Specialist, National Historian for a Federal Agency, Research Librarian, History Journalist, and Professor. A “client” contracts the historians for a project that involves research, writing, presenting, communicating, and meeting deadlines with their “client.” The instructor, librarian, and designer engage the students as professionals, but have some pre-made clues and guidance tools in place to provide at opportune moments to help students be most successful. Like a Murder Mystery party, the hosts (teacher, designer, and librarian) will release information as the party progresses to guide the guests to the clues and the solution. Instructors have a variety of tools to provide obvious and subtle hints to their students such as twitter, websites, discussion, and resources at the library.
I admit, this sounds like a daunting task for an instructor to create and conduct by themselves. My suggestion is experiment with an augmented reality assignment on a small scale first. For example, in collaboration with an English Instructor, your students become writers for a historical journal like the Journal of American History. The English class becomes the editors of the Journal and using the articles written by the historians selects the best for publication or provides editing comments for consideration and future approval on the rejected articles. What an opportunity for cross-curriculum collaboration and providing a simple real world scenario!
To make the scenario most believable, students in the history class should believe they have submitted their writing to a real historical journal (in fact, they could submit directly to a journal of their choice) and the English students should believe they are truly evaluating professionally written articles for publication. You may even want to have a “visitor” to the class from the Historical Journal that explains why they are excited about the opportunity to work with the class. If not a real visitor, maybe a "letter" to the class from the Journal describing the scope of what they are trying to do by working with them.
Truthfully, I would only be successful with this kind of assignment in an online environment because my facial expressions would give me away. However, with a real-life purpose, I do suspect that many students would feel more engaged and motivated to produce some of their best work.
If you are ready to create a more complicated augmented reality for your students, the summer is a great time to plan and I look forward to your examples!