#CANISIUSCIC – Augmented Reality + Google Maps: Integrating Skills with Zest!

#CANISIUSCIC - Augmented Reality + Google Maps: Integrating Skills with Zest!

Kathleen Gradel, a Professor at SUNY Fredonia, gave a wonderful presentation on augmented reality (AR) and Google Maps. Early in her presentation, she provided a couple of definitions of AR.

Augmented reality adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell to the natural world as it exists.

“…Augmented reality blurs the line between what’s real and what;s computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.

Gradel’s presentation can be found in this Google Slides deck. I appreciated how she made access to the presentation materials easy with a short link and QR code.

As Gradel explained, she was working on a group activity for students. The activity needed to build campus connections, practice core skills, and be fun. She also wanted to create something that would be beneficial to a larger community.

As she explored options, Gradel connected with Micah Shippee who blazed a trail on developing an AR project. His work can be found at AugmentEDU.

Applications Explored

Gradel primarily showed off two applications:

  • Blippar
  • Wikitude

Both of these products are intended to be loaded on mobile devices. However, they also have web-based development tools.


Blippar is an augmented reality tool that will present overlays for everyday items. Basically, you associate an image with additional content that helps to expand the experience. This content can be audio, video, text and links.

This product is very similar to Aurasma but seems easier to use.

Here are some examples for using Blippar:

  • Supplement the images of a textbook with video.
  • Provide details about art exhibits.
  • Supplement a guided tour with audio and video commentary. (You could create special icons for each stop of the tour)


Wikitude is a geolocation augmented reality tool. With the developer tools, you can create 3d overlays that will be activated when a user enters a certain proximity of a location.

In Gradel’s project, she uploaded a Google Map KML file to Wikitude.

Wikitude can be used for walking tours, museum exhibits, etc. It also can be used like Blippar to supplement physical objects.

An example of Gradel’s Wikitude project can be found through the Wikitude app by searching for FRED101gradel.

Developing the Project

Gradel used Wikitude as a central tool for a group based project. She had her students create content for an AR campus resource guide. The students had to develop the content and she added it to the Wikitude site.

She outlined 10 steps for her project:

  1. Heads together (planning)
  2. Find and write
  3. Walk and check
  4. Peer review
  5. Fine-tune
  6. Geek map
  7. Check the map
  8. Make the app
  9. Use it
  10. Show and celebrate

She shared a Google Document that students used to collect their data. After some reflection, Gradel recommended using a Google Sheets document instead.

In the Other Mapping Strategies, I offer some other alternative that I have used to create KML and KMZ files. I am not sure if they will work with Wikitude, but I will experiment and report back.

Gradel spoke about the group dynamics of the project and offered suggestions for ensuring the project ran smoothly. Some of the suggestions are included in her Google Document but she also spoke about Pixar’s Plussing technique of giving feedback. This was a great addition.

Other Mapping Strategies

Here are some additional articles I have used for building KML files:

Other mapping ideas

While we are addressing maps, here are some ideas for using Google Maps and student created KML files:

These can be starting points for an augmented reality exercise.

Next Steps

If you are interested in using augmented reality for your class, please stop by the TEI Synergy Center to talk with me.

What ideas do you have for augmented reality and Google Maps? Please leave a comment.

Other Gradel Presentations

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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