AR Creation Platform for K-12 Classroom

Research Group -
Co-Augmentation, Learning and AI Lab
Completion - 2021 Summer

Participatory Research
UI/UX Design
Game Design


It has been proven by many previous research that AR can improve learning in classrooms (Radu, McCarthy, and Kao, 2016). Effective educational AR apps should be developed with in-depth collaboration with their main stakeholders - teachers and students.

My role as the sole interaction designer on the team is to bring research insights from stakeholders into AR development. The project is a collaboration with CMU Entertainment Technology Center, Simon Initiative & CoALA Lab at HCII.

Redesign Interface
I first worked closely with developers from ETC (Entertainment Technology Center) to improve interface usability and visual design.

What is ARCADEMY︎︎︎
ARCADE is an AR collaborative creation environment under development by ETC. Based on ARCADE, ARCADEMY is designed to diversify educational content for teachers and students. The current platform suffers from several issues of interface usability.
Interaction Model
Compared to similar products, ARCADEMY combines educational and creative purposes. Therefore, it needs a higher level of precision in measurement while maintaining intuitiveness for the target users with limited experience.
Information Architecture︎︎︎
The original information architecture is complex with features hidden deep in tabs and unintuitive interactions. This adds to cognitive load especially since users are unfamiliar with AR. Therefore, interventions intend to:

  1. Flatten the layers of interaction from 3 to 2 for faster access
  2. Recategorize buttons based on properties and order of interaction

Visual Design︎︎︎
For visual design, I proposed changes in acessibility, view-blocking and legibility, and conducted internal user testings to make sure the designs function as intended.
  • Accessibility - Is it easy to press the buttons while holding the iPad?
  • View-blocking - Does the features obtrude camera view?

  • Legibility - Are the buttons contrasty enough to separate from the background, whether dark colored or bright?

Remote Experience︎︎︎
To solve the issue of misalignment of digital and physical environment, we decided to use mini map and joystick to allow users to participate the experience with their avatars, or get into full-scale view through avatar’s camera view.

Imagine New Scenarios

Participatory Research︎︎︎
I worked with researchers to engage K-12 schools’ teachers in brainstorming the capability of AR in their teaching. We designed a ‘magical ability’ card game that tasked K-12 teachers with imagining AR features for teaching free from real-world constraints.

Interview Script here

Pilot Study︎︎︎

We conducted a pilot study before the final design using the low-fi mockup. Two issues arise from the practice:

  1. The participant had little room to brainstorm new ideas since we provided too many examples;
  2. The participant had little background in AR and found it hard to connect it with magical ability;

Therefore, for the final interview, we took down some examples, and chose the following gifs from existing cartoons and AR apps to provide the participants some contexts about what AR can bring.

Research Result︎︎︎
We interviewed 3 K-12 school teachers with the template provided above, and we summarized the magical abilities they mentioned and any other AR/education-relavent information. We found some commonly occured patterns throughout the conversations:

Based on research results, I proposed to developers and teachers new features to make the platform more useable for teaching.
AR Kahoot︎︎︎
physical interaction
Kahoot has been widely used by teachers to engage students. AR Kahoot allows teachers to draw trigger areas on the ground and assign to multiple choice answers; students can answer by standing at the choice areas.
creative narrative
Users can enable animations for objects and animate frame by frame with time wheel. They can also choose between one-time or looping animation.