Vinay Thawait, Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia Subject Advisor
In this blog I’ll share with you the experiences of some centres who have successfully delivered and assessed unit R070, Using augmented reality to present information, for both the January and June 2023 moderation series of our new Cambridge National in IT (J836) qualification. I’ll also be talking about the moderation series in general, and trials of augmented reality (AR) software development kits (SDKs) by the subject advisors.
“Learning AR enhances learning experiences, engages students, and provides a practical approach to understanding and solving complex concepts.”
We successfully completed two moderation series for our new Cambridge National in IT (J836) Non Exam Assessment (NEA) units R060 and R070 in January and June 2023. As expected for this new IT qualification with unique new AR content to teach and assess, the entries from centres for unit R070 were low in January 2023, but increased in the June 2023 series.
This year, for our new Cambridge Nationals qualifications, we are providing an exceptional autumn 2023 submission opportunity for the NEA units in November 2023 for centres, with students using the same set assignments as June 2023. If students were entered for certification in the June 2023 moderation series, they are not allowed to re-enter for the 2023 autumn series. More details on this can be found on our website.
We promised to provide you with updates on more AR SDKs when they become available and suitable for use. We continue to trial more SDKs to check their suitability for the R070 task, which requires students to develop an AR model prototype solution to present information.
I am pleased to say that we have now completed our trials of the following AR SDKs. I can confirm that the listed AR SDKs can be used to create an AR model prototype solution with no coding and it is not restrictive to students for achieving Topic Area (TA) 3 MB3 marks:
For more information, please download our updated AR software recommendations document which will be updated soon.
I’ve been talking with the heads of Computer Science and IT departments in England who are offering our new Cambridge National in IT J836 qualification, especially those who were focussed on the delivery and assessment of Unit R070 in the January and June 2023 moderation series. I wanted to find out which centres have used our recommended AR SDKs, and how, so others can learn from their experiences.
The centres used our SDK recommendations document to make their choice and completed a trial on their school IT network for its use in classroom settings. Centres mainly used freely available AR SDK Adobe Aero desktop (beta version) and/or XR Plus Studio (basic plan) and were able to successfully develop an AR model prototype solution for the live set assignment.
Some centres used BlippAR/Blippbuilder (free) or ZapWorks Studio (education licence) with their students. This was either because they didn’t meet the minimum system requirements for installing Adobe Aero SDK on their networked desktop or because their outsourced IT services provider refused to install a beta version of Adobe Aero desktop.
Note that in most cases I have anonymised the names of centres for GDPR compliance reasons.
Susan Walker-Mitchell, Course Team Leader for IT at Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, shared her experience in choosing, installing and using an AR SDK:
“We tried and failed to install Adobe Aero AR SDK on our IT network. The issue was due to using the Enterprise version of Adobe Creative Cloud. It is important to know that you need to use the Adobe Creative Cloud app to install Adobe Aero AR SDK and our college adobe apps are not delivered in the same way as they are for end users, instead they are packaged using the Adobe Admin Console to allow us to deploy them in bulk. We contacted the Adobe Aero community champion at the Adobe headquarters hoping to get a resolution but were unsuccessful.”
“We are now successfully using the Blippbuilder Microsoft Teams App with our students. Students enjoyed creating the AR solutions with great interest. It was easy to install our chosen AR SDK on our IT network, and everyone now has access to it through Microsoft Teams. One advantage in using Blippbuilder over Adobe Aero is that Blippbuilder is platform neutral whereas the Adobe Aero (beta version) for PC is available through Creative Cloud and the full version is available for iOS.”
The head of Computer Science and IT in another secondary school in the north of England informed me that the school’s outsourced IT services’ provider refused to install the beta version of Adobe Aero desktop software.
“Therefore we are using XR+ Studio, an online AR SDK, with our students by creating free login accounts (basic plan) for them.
Be aware that XR+ requires a verification email for each user account and during the login process this email got blocked due to our school’s IT security policy. We worked with our IT service provider and XR+ staff (through emails) to clear all verification emails. We experienced helpful support from XR+ who dealt with our issues on the same day
The only data that we shared for creating free login accounts was the students’ email address. I had to get an external organisation to check the risks regarding GDPR for using this website and they came back all clear as long as no names were shared, so we used student1, student2 etc, rather than real names to register them. We had no issues with the number of students using the site, and my students are enjoying using it. From my experience, it is not the technician’s fault, just the policies put in place from higher up the chain of command.”
Another school in the Midlands (part of a multi-academy trust) used Adobe Aero Desktop as well as XR+ Studio. They were able to register their students with help from XR+ directly and had no issues with Adobe Aero registration:
“In our schools, students were able to experience both AR SDKs. We only had XR+ available for our students. Soon after we started using XR+ Studio online, we learned that the basic plan package limited the number of users who can access the SDK at any one time from a single IP address. We tackled this by carefully managing timetables to allow our students to access XR+ Studio and they were able to complete the set assignment tasks successfully. We will now be reviewing and working with our IT support team to implement the use of Blippbuilder AR SDK – either the online version or the Microsoft Teams App version.”
Watch out for my next blog on AR as I will be sharing hints and tips for using some of our recommended AR SDKs.
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Vinay joined OCR in July 2014 to support the GQ reform and development of the AS and A-Level Computer Science qualifications. Since then, he has been involved in the development of the reformed GCSE (9-1) Computer Science and Entry Level Computer Science, the redevelopment of Cambridge National in IT qualification and currently working on the development of L3 Cambridge Advanced Nationals (AAQ) in IT qualifications.
Before joining OCR, Vinay spent more than 25 years in IT and Computer Science teaching and leadership roles, working for several schools as well as local authorities educational support team. He was the National Bid Lead for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative within Capita IT, and the Head of Operations for an audio-visual educational software development company.
Vinay has a degree, three post-graduate masters and NPQH from the Warwick, Coventry, and Nottingham Universities. Outside work, Vinay is a keen player of karate, cricket, and badminton. He does not believe in ‘just sitting down and watching TV.’