2013 IR&D Annual Report

Evaluating the Efficacy of a Criteria Model for Selecting Mobile Augmented Reality as a Learning Tool, 09-R8200

Principal Investigator
Jenifer Wheeler

Inclusive Dates: 01/03/11 – 11/23/12

Background — Mobile devices are becoming increasingly important and strategic components in the delivery of learning content. To a large degree, this is driven by the ubiquity of these devices, as well as the increasing capabilities of the technology. Thus far, most mobile-learning applications have focused on the delivery of training content and courses. Mobile devices are now capable of supporting a wide range of content delivery including applications such as simulations and Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR). While anecdotal evidence indicates strong potential for using mobile platforms in training and performance support, more empirical data is needed to begin truly defining the best use for this technology. For instance, when is it most appropriate to use MAR for learning as opposed to alternatives such as 2D animation or 3D simulation? Understanding the criteria for selecting MAR will aid in its effective application, as well as the application of other approaches.

image: MAR on a cell phone
Mobile augmented reality enhances task performance

Approach — This research effort consists of the following phases:

  1. Develop and analyze selection criteria for a MAR learning application based on human performance and learning theories.
  2. Design a task for study that is tailored to the MAR selection criteria. That is, based on the criteria, design a task that is optimally suited for a MAR application.
  3. Implement two different mobile learning solutions (i.e. 3D simulation and MAR) that are each intended to teach or support the task created.
  4. Collect and analyze data from three different groups of participants, each using a different mobile learning application (and a control group), to perform the task to draw conclusions regarding the validity of the selection model as well as key usability insights for each type of solution.

Accomplishments — The project team developed a criteria model for selecting mobile augmented reality as a learning delivery tool based on skill type, task characteristics and task execution variables. This model was used in the selection of the Soma cube puzzle as a study task. MAR and 3D applications were developed to teach and provide practice for the assembly of the Soma cube. A study was conducted to compare participants' ability to assemble the Soma cube after learning and practicing with the MAR application, the 3D application, or no mobile application (control group). Results suggest that the MAR group was able to assemble the cube more quickly than the other groups.

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Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.