Ever watch Pop-Up Video? Or have you noticed the first-down line that magically appears when you watch football on TV? These are examples of augmented reality — adding information to enhance a real-world view. Thanks to efforts like the American Civil War Augmented Reality Project, the concept is making its way into education. A few Pennsylvania teachers plan to use this technology to help visitors understand Civil War battlefields.

Their vision involves using tablet computers or smart phones to snap pictures of a battlefield site, then superimpose Civil War-era photos of the same areas along with information about the site. They also plan to install augmented reality devices resembling coin-operated binoculars. As the viewer swivels the “binoculars,” he or she will see the battlefield as it looked during the war. The project is still in the early stages, but it’s an exciting development and we’ll be watching its progress closely. You can get more information and even make a donation here.

Moreover, this should make us consider the use of augmented reality in our own teaching. Students could do a scavenger hunt for old photos of their hometown and then take present-day pictures for comparison. They could design audio or video tours of sites relevant to what they’re studying. After all, reality is what we make of it.

American Civil War Augmented Reality Project

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