Metaverse AR Technology in Physical Education
What is Metaverse and AR technology?
Metaverse is an app available on phones and tablets that allows you to use augmented reality to create experiences that can be manipulated in a variety of ways and for different purposes. Augmented reality, made famous by Pokémon Go, allows users to interact with the environment around them in a unique, digital way. Instead of a Pokémon character, you can code the Metaverse app to have different characters with text boxes appear in your natural environment, allowing the user to interact with both. In this blog post, I will share how I created experiences for my students to complete fitness activities and go on a scavenger hunt during their Adventure Games unit.
How does Metaverse work?
First, you need to create an experience “storyboard” on a computer. This task took a few hours of trial and error to comfortable with, but once you spend those initial hours everything becomes easy and routine. You go through and make each interactive screen look at how you desire; the buttons you want the students to press, and what happens should they press these buttons. You can choose what characters greet the students each time as well. Anything from Taylor Swift to Mario and Luigi dancing can be chosen!
Once you decide on an introduction screen, you add buttons allowing students to inquire how they see fit, while guiding them through speech bubbles. Buttons can contain answers to questions that will lead them to new screens with more questions, or you can link them to YouTube videos, websites, polls, a screen that uses the camera function, or have them record a video. The possibilities are substantial!
Opening up an experience on your phone or tablet requires you to have the free Metaverse app downloaded and open, then you scan the QR code that comes with each experience you create. I printed these out and posted them around the school for my activity. Once the student has scanned the QR code your AR experience should begin with your chosen character and speech bubble in the air somewhere around the student. An arrow on the device screen will help the students track it down. From there the students can begin working through the storyboard and lesson objectives!
How I used it in PE.
When I first learned about this technology through blogs and The PE Geek, there were ideas floating around for how to use it in PE, but successful implementation in the classroom was mostly seen through student coding or mathematic subjects. I was determined to find a meaningful way to implement this into my physical education class. I believed this would enjoyable for my PYP students as almost all of them mentioned playing Pokemon Go at some point, an app credited for getting kids and adults more active.
I decided I could fit this AR activity into the Adventure Challenges unit and provide students a new way to explore social roles and having them work in small groups to be active. They would complete a virtual scavenger hunt around school grounds.
Students were put into small groups and each given one iPad. They were asked to switch roles at each station so all students could get a chance to hold the iPad. The other roles were leader, pose creator (each scavenger clue involved taking a group photo) and all students were tasked with trying to solve the riddles they encountered. I had the QR codes discreetly posted at certain points around the school for students to hunt. While this task was ongoing I walked around to solve any tech problems but otherwise encouraged student agency through the activity.
The Teaching and Learning
Each group started with being sent to a different QR code, in a different part of the school. At every station, students would have to perform a fitness task that the iPad holder would record through the same app. I could see these videos at the end of class through the device’s library. After they stopped video recording, a riddle would pop up telling students where they could find the next fitness task! There were 6 different stations for students to work through on this scavenger hunt with a different AR character to greet them at each one. When students had 6 group photos with the characters and completed the 6 exercises, they came back to our meeting spot exhausted but excited to show their work!
Scan these QR codes with the free Metaverse app to explore the activity yourself.
LEFT: Mario Bros - Every group starts with this one.
RIGHT: Cat with Burger - 1 of the 6 experiences students will go through on the scavenger hunt.
I witnessed positive interaction with every group. Students were focused to complete the fitness tasks and move on to the next clue. The younger grades took turns well and listened to each other to try and solve the different riddles.
The older PYP students liked the use of popular characters like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, so I would make sure to have animal characters for the younger PYP students and pop culture being the focus for the older grades.
Make sure you put the QR codes in areas of good Wi-Fi! I made the mistake having one code at our playground sandpit far from the main building. Students occasionally struggled to have strong enough Wi-Fi to open it.
The initial set-up and learning curve can be difficult to master, however, once you create one storyboard these are easy to edit, copy and use as a basic template for all future AR activities.
In the future, I look forward to setting up Metaverse AR technology to meaningfully support station learning in my health-related fitness unit and build off of this fun lesson!