Canvas highlights 7: Discussions

Canvas Highlights 7 - Discussions

Discussion boards are a common feature of VLEs, supporting the collaborative exploration of ideas and understanding that plays a central role on the development of knowledge. Canvas Discussions offer a rich set of options and a clean, highly usable interface.

Screenshot showing a tutor's view of a Canvas Discussion topic
A tutor’s view of a Canvas Discussion topic, showing information icons

Tutors and students will be able to see how many posts have been added and how many they have yet to read. Everyone can also subscribe to the Discussion, by clicking the green ribbon icon. Subscribing means you will be notified of any new contributions. Notifications reduce the chance of missing contributions that you would find relevant or would like the opportunity to respond to in a timely manner.

Writing a contribution to a discussion uses Canvas’ rich content editor, which means that you and your students can add all kinds of media content to your posts. As a tutor you can attach files from your computer and you can extend this capability to students, through the discussion settings. You can also place links to other module locations or content (such as assignments or seminar notes) directly within the discussion post.

Linking to other module resources within a forum post.

As a tutor you can pin a Discussion to the top of the Discussion area, to give it prominence and mark it as especially important. You can either drag and drop it into the “Pinned discussions” area, or select “Pin” from the Discussion’s options menu.

Screenshot highlighting the pinned discussions area
View of the Discussions area, highlighting the Pinned discussions.

Students can be given a range of capabilities (or these can be removed) through the discussion settings. These are opened by clicking the cog icon on the Discussions area of a Canvas course. By default they are allowed to add new discussions and to edit or delete their own posts, but these permissions can be reversed if necessary. As indicated above, they can also be allowed to attach files to their discussion posts, which might be useful for sharing drafts of written work for peer or tutor feedback.

Screenshot of Canvas Discussions settings
The discussions settings box

Use Cases

Canvas Discussions provide excellent support for several situations:

  • For focused, short lived discussions around a single topic, the default Discussion options will allow responses from the students and then counter-responses from other students or tutors (which will display connected to the original response). If you want to close the discussion, you can lock the Discussion to prevent further replies.
  • For longer discussions where replies can become triggers for side-discussions, Canvas offers an option to  “allow threaded replies” . When threading is set all replies are indented from their “parent” post to give a more nuanced picture of the flow and tracks of the conversation.
  • Discussions can be used combination with Canvas’ group settings to create group-specific discussions; students will only be able to contribute to the discussion for their group, but tutors will be able to join in all group discussions.
  • Where you want students to give a personal response to an issue or prompt, you can prevent them from viewing anyone else’s posts before they’ve made one of their own. This is the “Users must post before seeing replies” option.
  • Discussion contributions can be assessed. When marking the discussion, you can isolate each student’s comments from the thread and combine them into one easily readable view. You can also vary the due dates for different students or groups of students as necessary.
  • Light-touch peer feedback can be provided by allowing students to “like” posts, in much the same way as on Facebook and Twitter. You could employ this as a tactic to increase the students’ motivation to contribute to the discussion and their engagement and interaction with the topic.
  • All Discussions can be given availability dates: students will be able to see that the discussion exists, but will not be able to view the content until after the “Available from” date and will not be able to make further contributions to it after the “Until” date
Screenshot showing the options for individual discussions in Canvas
The options settings for each individual Canvas discussion.

For more information on Canvas Discussions, please visit the Discussions guidance provided by Instructure themselves.

Canvas Training

Places are filling up fast on our Canvas Fundamentals training workshops. We strongly encourage all Sussex academic staff to sign up for a place. Attending the workshop will familiarise you with Canvas and your options for teaching with the new VLE. It also gives you access to your migrated modules from 17/18.

Professional Services staff are also welcome to book a place on this workshop, although we are in contact with several School Administrators to arrange specific sessions for School Office staff.

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Canvas Know-how 2: Making Use of Announcements

Canvas Know-how: Making Use of Announcements

[note: this post has been updated to reflect a terminology change on the Sussex Canvas VLE, to align it to Sussex terminology]

Announcements in Canvas are a great way of making students aware of important news. For example, if there is a change to the venue for a seminar or you want to remind students to bring something to a session, an announcement can bring this to students’ attention inside Canvas.

megaphone icon

Where will the Announcements be seen?

Announcements can be seen in several places within Canvas. Students also have a number of options about how and when they receive notifications of new announcements (as do all Canvas users). They can choose these in the notifications section of their Account settings. Regardless of these settings, all students will see the announcement in the following three locations:

Location 1: On the Dashboard

There is a notification about announcements on the Module Tile which appears in Dashboard for staff and students. In this example there are 3 unread announcements.

Dashboard Module Tile showing unread announcements.

Location 2: At the top of the Module Home screen

In the Module Settings, tutors have the option to have recent announcements appear at the top of the Module Home screen. You can also set how many announcements are displayed. This Canvas Guide shows you how to show recent announcements in the Module Home Page.

Announcements at the top of the Modules Home screen

Location 3: In the Announcements section of the Canvas Module.

Announcements will always appear in the Announcements section. This is where you can add new announcements and delete old ones.

The Announcements section of a Canvas Module.

How do I add an announcement in a module?

To create a new announcement, go to Announcements in the Module Menu and click the red +Announcement button. You will need to give your announcement a title (think of this as the headline) and enter some text, images and/or links using the Rich Content Editor. You can also upload a file if required.

There are then some further options, such as:

  • Choose to delay posting of your announcement, selecting the date and time when you want your announcement to be posted. This could be useful if you want to remind students about something in a particular week.
  • Allow ‘liking’. Depending on the type of Announcement, this opportunity for students to signal value or importance of an announcement could be useful.

Your post will then appear in Announcements (and on the Home screen if you have set that option – see above). Your profile picture will be included.

An Announcement showing the tutor’s message and profile picture.

You can edit your message if you need to by clicking on the title and the Edit button. A notification will also be added to the Module Tile.

Support from TEL

If you would like help getting started with Announcements or want to discuss other ways to use Canvas with your students please contact  

Resources from Canvas

Canvas Training

Places are filling up fast on our Canvas Fundamentals training workshops. We strongly encourage all Sussex academic staff to sign up for a place. Attending the workshop will familiarise you with Canvas and your options for teaching with the new VLE. It also gives you access to your migrated modules from 17/18.

Professional Services staff are also welcome to book a place on this workshop, although we are in contact with several School Administrators to arrange specific sessions for School Office staff.

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Apple Clips: A free and easy video editor

This week we want to introduce you to an iOS app that is great for quickly producing short videos for sharing.

What is it?

In Apple’s own words Clips is ‘ iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, special effects, graphics and more’ ( Check out the video below to see it in action.

With a range of animated title and text slides, Clips allows you quickly produce a nice looking video for sharing on social media in very little time. Like with many video tools such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram you can add a variety of graphics. You can record a voice over and disregard the video audio, it also lets you import existing videos as well as recording straight from either your front or back camera.

Simple to use, you just hold down the record button for as long as you want that particular element for, you can trim them afterwards.

3 key highlights:

  • Adding music. Clips comes with its own library of ‘Soundtracks’ covering many different genres and themes from pop to playful and holidays & events.
  • Title slides that are very slick and add a touch of professionalism to your video.
  • Automatic transcription that is actually pretty accurate. Just select the style of how the text is displayed on screen, you can edit if it’s missed something. This is great because videos shared on social media are often watched without sound and it makes your video more accessible.

Is it free?


Will it work on my device?

Clips is compatible with iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation), iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, and iPod touch (6th generation) and requires iOS 10.3 or later.

Where can I get the app?

Clips is iOS only and available from the App store for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Ideas for using Clips in learning and teaching

  • Create videos using Clips and use them:
    • To follow up on sticky points of seminars or lectures.
    • To send out some questions ahead of a lecture or seminar.
  • Have students create video “explainers” on the topic.
  • Share Clips videos on social media for your module or course or department, such as a Twitter account.

What are the alternatives?

As Clips is iOS only, here are some alternatives for Android phones.

Want more help and info?

Contact Technology Enhanced Learning

Canvas Training

Places are filling up fast on our Canvas Fundamentals training workshops. We strongly encourage all Sussex academic staff to sign up for a place. Attending the workshop will familiarise you with Canvas and your options for teaching with the new VLE. It also gives you access to your migrated modules from 17/18.

Professional Services staff are also welcome to book a place on this workshop.

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Posted in App review

5 Top Tips for creating inclusive presentations

For presentations to be part of truly inclusive teaching practice they need to be created with an eye on accessibility. This post will outline some things you can do to make your presentations in lectures, seminars, meetings and conferences accessible to all.

1. Choose a presentation tool that will help you make your slides accessible.

Not all presentation tools are equally good for inclusivity. The following tips will look at specific aspects of presentations and some tools will not let you do these things easily.

PowerPoint has been around for a long time and some poor use of the tool has led to criticisms, but it has some great features to help you make your presentations accessible. Some newer tools such as Prezi, Haiku Deck and Adobe Spark offer some exciting visual features, but do not always have the accessibility options that are desirable. For example, Prezi suggests adding voice overs, creating a PDF version or recording a video screencast to make a Prezi accessible.

Accessible U (University of Minnesota) recommends that you choose presentation software that allows you to:

  • use pre-defined slide layouts
  • add alternative text to images
  • rearrange and reorder content, so you can control the order in which a screen reader will read it

(  accessed 21/5/2018)

PowerPoint and Google Slides both meet these criteria.

2. Use an accessible theme and pre-defined layouts.

If you use pre-defined slide layouts rather than adding your own text boxes your presentation is much more likely to be accessible. PowerPoint and Google Slides both have a range of themes that will create easy to read slides.

In PowerPoint, choose a theme from the Design tab. Then as you add slides you can choose from a selection of layouts. Microsoft also provide a sample of the most popular Accessible PowerPoint Templates fully optimized for use by people with visual disabilities.

PowerPoint Design options

PowerPoint slide layouts

Microsoft provide additional guidance on how to make your PowerPoint presentations accessible including using the Office accessibility checker.

Check Accessibility in Office

Google Slides has a selection of ready-made themes to help you make your Google  document or presentation accessible and the ‘Explore’ tool, which will take your content and suggest a better slide design. Just click on the Explore icon at the bottom of the screen and choose from the alternatives suggested. Using Google's Explore tool

3. Add alternative text to images.

PowerPoint and Google Slides both allow you to add alternative text to images so that screen readers can convey to users what is in the image. Try to make this text as descriptive as possible. If the contents of the image is very complex and important to the understanding of the presentation you may want to find an alternative way of presenting the information.

To add alt-text in PowerPoint, right-click the image, choose Format Picture and Alt Text.

add Alt Text in PowerPoint

As you will want to use this feature whenever you are adding images to presentations, you will probably want to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar.

In Google Slides, right-clicking on an image will bring up a range of options including ‘Alt text’. You can also access that with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Alt-Y.

add Alt Text in Google Slides

4. Make sure the content is in the right order for screen-readers.

When there are several elements on a slide it may seem obvious which order they should be read in, but screen readers will usually read them in the order you added them, rather than in the order that makes sense!

You can set the reading order in PowerPoint using the Arrange tool, which you can access on the Home tab under Drawing. Choose ‘Selection’ and then drag and drop the elements into the right order. As you click on each element in the Selection window it will be highlighted on your slide, so you can easily see what needs to be moved.set the reading order in PowerPointChanging the order is not quite as easy in Google Slides. You need to use the tab key to check the order in which elements would be read. To adjust the order, go to the Arrange tab, select Order and ‘send backward’ or ‘bring forward’ to move items up or down in the reading order.  

5. Share your presentation in advance.

It is good practice to share the slides in advance of your presentation as this gives learners the opportunity to get a sense of the content before the presentation. During the session they may want to make notes on the slides.

Lecture slides can be uploaded to Study Direct (for 17/18) or Canvas (the new VLE from 2018/19) for students to access. Students will also be able to share presentation slides they have created with a group in Canvas.



Google Slides

Accessible Slide Presentations (10 videos from Accessible U at the University of Minnesota


Canvas Training

Places are filling up fast on our Canvas Fundamentals training workshops. We strongly encourage all Sussex academic staff to sign up for a place. Attending the workshop will familiarise you with Canvas and your options for teaching with the new VLE. It also gives you access to your migrated modules from 17/18.

Professional Services staff are also welcome to book a place on this workshop.

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Introducing Cadence, a new learning technology created by a @SussexUni student

Jade Gidney is a final year BSc Product Design student at the University of Sussex. For her final project she created her own learning technology to try to track student engagement, we interviewed her to find out more about her product.

Jade Gidney

Jade Gidney

Could you tell us a bit about the Design Project module?

You start the project at the end of your second year or at the end of your placement year. And you’re supposed to know a broad idea of what you want to study. Then you come into your final year and you do an unmarked presentation straightaway, presenting to all of the potential supervisors. So then in your first term, that’s when you are doing all of your research and ideation and preliminary testing, when you’re going big with your ideas and ‘what if?’ questions.

Over Christmas, which is probably for me when the project really grounded itself and started to take shape for me, that’s when you are making more models and getting into the three dimensional world as opposed to just working on paper. The next term is when you are testing your final product and making sure that it works, that it looks good. This is all building up the the Design Show which is a week long exhibition. On the Thursday of that week you have your final presentation which counts towards your dissertation. Then on the Friday it is much more relaxed and chilled and is when you actually get to celebrate the work you’ve been doing for the whole year.

And what is your project?

It is a device, Cadence, that students can fidget with during their lectures and it’s essentially a ball that rolls around an infinite amount of times. The lecturer can then see information on the number of students interacting with the device. There are a lot of studies that suggest that fidgeting is a sign that our minds are starting to wander and we’re becoming disengaged. So if a lecturer knows how many students are becoming disengaged then they can do something about it instead of just continuing their lecture with an unengaged audience.

When lecturers first heard about the project, a lot of them were just like ‘I don’t know if I want to know how many students are engaged or not’. One thing that I want to iterate is that fidgeting and disengagement is natural, it’s a natural part of human nature and that’s not a bad thing, it’s part of how we deal with things. The unnatural thing is trying to sustain focus for hours and that is something that has been happening in lectures. Lectures haven’t changed that much in the last 50 years yet technology is enhancing so many things. So this isn’t to tell lecturers that they are a bad lecturer, it’s not to tell them that they’re boring. It is basically to give them an informed decision on when they should change the pace of their lecturer, which is something that most lecturers are already doing, they’re already asking student questions and introducing group tasks, it’s just informing them of when the best time to do that is.

Cadence on a desk

What were the motivations behind that project?

I did my internship in packaging design and that was really what I wanted to do when I came into my final year. So I gave my first presentation on that, the preliminary unmarked one, and the lecturers said to me ‘you’re not going to get the most out of your degree if you do this because there’s not much technical side to it’. I was still pretty determined that I wanted to do that but after hearing that I tailored it slightly and altered it and started looking into the packaging design of coffee cups. I was think about designing a new biodegradable material, something like that. Then I was looking at alternative uses for coffee cups as well as how people interact with them during their lectures and I started to notice that people would fidget with them and tear them apart. So that’s when I started looking into fidgeting in lecture halls and what that means and how it relates to engagement. So it was a very wonky route and I had to do a lot of catch up work in my first term.

Who did you collaborate with?

Quite a lot of people. Obviously this project is designed at students and lecturers so I have the student side down and I understand the mindset of students. To understand the lecturers’ side I collaborated with a number of lecturers including Dr Carlos Sato, Lecturer in Management; Dr Carole Becker, Teaching Fellow (Mathematics); Dr Kingsley Sage, Teaching Fellow in Computing Sciences; Dr Blay Whitby, Teaching Fellow in Engineering; and Dr Ronald Grau,Teaching Fellow in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. So those were the main people that I got information from to try to understand how they monitor student engagement already. I also sent out questionnaires to lecturers which were really useful.

As well as this I’ve been collaborating with Psychologists because I know I can do the product design side of things, but this project related a lot to attention so I’ve been working with Dr Sophie Forster, Lecturer In Psychology, who is a researcher in mind wandering and attention. I was working with her firstly to understand as much as I could about fidgeting and engagement. I’ve also had a meeting with Dr Harry Witchel, Senior Lecturer in Physiology, who is a neuroscientist to find out more about engagement. George Robinson in the Technology Enhanced Learning Office was also helpful. Obviously TEL focus on subtle ways to integrate technologies into lecture halls, so having meetings with him was really useful to understand how you can go about integrating technologies into lecture halls because it’s all very nice saying I want to put them in a lecture hall but if you don’t know how it’s going to get there then it is a bit redundant.

Cadence being used in a lecture

Jade will be graduating from the University of Sussex in July, after graduating she intends to move to New Zealand due to the number of programmes and initiatives that they offer for women in engineering.

Contact TEL

We are keen to showcase the great work of both staff and students at the University of Sussex, if you would like to share the work of your students or any innovative teaching practices please get in touch by emailing


Canvas Training

Places are filling up fast on our Canvas Fundamentals training workshops. We strongly encourage all Sussex academic staff to sign up for a place. Attending the workshop will familiarise you with Canvas and your options for teaching with the new VLE. It also gives you access to your migrated modules from 17/18.

Professional Services staff are also welcome to book a place on this workshop.

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Posted in Case Study


This week we are introducing a fabulous social media tool, Instagram.

Instagram is a social media app which allows users to share images and video clips. As social media sites like Facebook (which its worth noting is the parent company which owns Instagram) continue to fall in terms of use amongst younger users apps such as Instagram are thriving particularly amongst the 16-24 age group and so can be a good way of engaging and communicating with students in a format they find engaging and relatable.

Instagram allows you to:

  • Upload images onto your account and share them with other users.
  • Comment on other users’ posts and comments.
  • Use Instagram Stories which are short video clips or images that you can annotate with text, drawings or other visual content.
  • Follow hashtags on certain topics and trends.
  • Follow other Instagram users and tag them in your content.
  • Livestream yourself and allow other users to co-livestream with you at the same time using the “Live” feature.
  • Post questions on your Stories that your followers can respond to. 

Information on how to create and set up your account can be found on the Instagram help site.

annotated image in Instagram

annotated image in Instagram

Is it free?

Instagram is completely free. You will simply need to download the app and then create an account either using an existing email address or a Facebook account .

Will it work on my device?

Instagram works on Android and iOS. It is also possible to view Instagram images on web browsers, but web users cannot upload content.

Where can I get the app?

Google Play (for Android)

iTunes (for ipad/iphone)

Ideas for using Instagram in learning and teaching

  • Use  to collectively build a visual resource around a topic. You could use a hashtag to collect posts together, or create a group conversation to share and comment on posts.
  • Use the Stories sticker feature to create polls.
  • Create role-playing learning scenarios where students put themselves in the place of others and try to work out what sort of content they’d post, taking on the role of a famous historical or fictional literary figure for example.


If you would like help with using Instagram or to discuss how this or any other digital tools could help you in your teaching or learning please get in touch with the TEL team.


Canvas Training

Places are filling up fast on our Canvas Fundamentals training workshops. We strongly encourage all Sussex academic staff to sign up for a place. Attending the workshop will familiarise you with Canvas and your options for teaching with the new VLE. It also gives you access to your migrated modules from 17/18.

Professional Services staff are also welcome to book a place on this workshop.

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Posted in Active learning, App review, Social media

Canvas news: May update

Canvas Update
The implementation of Canvas continues to progress well and training for staff is well underway.  Since our last update in early April bookings to attend Canvas Fundamentals workshops have been flooding in.  The demand has been such that Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) are now running a minimum of 3 sessions every week with dates currently available through to the 12th of July.  As of this update a total of 182 staff have attended training on the new VLE: 165 colleagues from across the University’s Schools of Study and 17 Professional Services staff. A further 238 colleagues are booked on future sessions through May and June. 

Canvas Fundamentals Training - Attendees. B MEc 24, E S W 8, Engineering and Informatics 17, English 17, Global Studies 17, H A H P 7, L P S 8, Life Sciences 26, M P S 14, M F M 13, Psychology 14, Professional Services 17

Feedback on the workshop, and on Canvas itself, has been overwhelmingly positive with colleagues from across the institution enthused by the new teaching and learning opportunities afforded by the new VLE:

“A much more versatile VLE with lots of opportunities to encourage student interaction and formative assessment – I’m excited to get cracking!”

“From what I’ve seen today I think the new VLE will be more intuitive. Particularly the possibility to drag and drop will make my life a lot easier!”

“This is an interesting platform and interface – I’m keen to not just translate what I have previously used on Study Direct, but rather find new ways of presenting the courses that enhance the learning experience.”

“Takes a bit of learning, but once you get used to the new system it’s a lot less clunky that study direct – smoother, faster and much nicer interface – just a bit tricky getting used to working with different kinds of bricks as it were.”

The feedback has also included lots of useful suggestions for further training and guidance which would help staff enhance the look and feel of sites within Canvas and to understand how to take advantage of the new functionality within the VLE.  We’ll be reviewing this feedback within TEL and considering how we can best support staff to achieve their goals.

Migration Update

Now that term has finished, work to migrate the Spring and Autumn-Spring 17/18 module sites from Study Direct to Canvas is underway.  Some 1260 modules will be exported from Study Direct and transferred to Canvas where they will be reviewed by the Learning Technologists in TEL to ensure content has moved over successfully.  This is a considerable amount of work and will take time. We’ll provide information on our progress in our June project update.

Communication and engagement

Members of the project team have been providing briefings on the rollout of Canvas to staff and students at every opportunity including School Teaching and Learning Committees, Departmental meetings and Boards of Study.  Working with the Internal Communications team, updates have been published on the University’s Staff and Student web pages, while training opportunities for staff have also been publicised on digital screens across campus.  Learning Technologists from TEL ran two workshops at the recent University Teaching and Learning Conference, to help staff think about how Canvas might be used to enhance feedback to students. We’re also continuing to post regular updates to this blog, providing information on how the project is progressing and showcasing some of the exciting features in our new VLE.  To make sure you don’t miss out on these posts you can enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and have posts sent directly to your inbox.

Canvas Training

We strongly encourage all Sussex academic staff to sign up for a place on our Canvas Fundamentals training workshops. Attending the workshop will familiarise you with Canvas and your options for teaching with the new VLE. It also gives you access to your migrated modules from 17/18. Demand for the spaces has been incredibly high, and the workshops have been filling up quickly. We are doing everything we can to schedule additional dates and our booking page is being updated daily. Please do let us know if you are having difficulty finding a place.

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Posted in Canvas, Technology Enhanced Learning

Shared Realities: Why Augmented Reality is about to make its dent in the educational universe.

Shared Realities

As immersive technology continues to evolve at a very rapid pace, so too do billion dollar companies, their shareholders’ returns relying on the ‘next big thing’. Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Lenovo and many more are falling over each other to give us updates and announcements at their various conferences with a fierce pace. The technology changes fast, and as it does we are presented with new ways of interacting with the world around us. Advertising, marketing and gaming are leading the way in this,  but what about education? In this post we’ll take a look at what’s happening with Augmented Reality (AR) and what the potential impact may be on education.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented reality or AR is the name given to the concept of overlaying the real world with digital content or information, viewed through a headset or mobile device. Since it does involve the real world you are by the very nature less removed than you would be in Virtual Reality (VR).

The current state of AR?

Although you can share a screen with friends and colleagues, AR experiences are still a very individual activity. For example if you’ve used a Hololens from Microsoft, you’ll likely have had the experience of snapping your finger and thumb together to fend off an alien invasion or select menu items. To you, seeing the overlay, this is fairly normal behaviour, but to an observer (even ignoring the headset) your behaviour is a little peculiar and removed from their viewpoint of the environment.

Take a walk around any education trade show and you’ll see a lot of immersive technology, headsets everywhere. (Despite being a year old, this article gives a good overview), with companies working to create virtual labs, virtual lectures and virtual tours. For example Microsoft has focused on what it’s calling Mixed Reality and Prezi has plans for Augmented Reality. Each of these remain an individual experience: whilst you might share some content to someone else, you can’t yet easily stand side by side and interact with the same digital content in real time. Before we look to what’s coming, take a look at some of the AR apps that are available now.


HP Reveal. Poster from Discover Campus as part of Digital Discovery Week.

JigSpace on iOS

What’s next for AR?

For me the crux of why there is still no ‘killer application’ for education, is simply that VR and AR are not yet a fully social experience (with those in the same room as you). You may all be in a room together, but you are experiencing and interacting with the content individually. 

Shared AR could  kickstart some incredible apps for education. One can imagine a scenario  in which students or tutors with individual devices can interact with the real world and the real people around them, at the same time as interacting with a digital world through their devices. Perhaps the tutor can explore the inner workings of a combustion engine whilst showing an exploded view that students are able to see in 3D, spinning  the model around in real time on their own devices.

JigSpace is an example of such a tool, yet currently it only offers an individual experience. Imagine a student presentation in which they show a 3D model of a historical artefact and the audience can see it right there in front of them through their devices, see the presenters indicate certain areas,  mark up the space, and walk around the digital object.

Who is doing what to make this happen?

Marketing departments and film franchises are leading the way – for example,  Star Wars: Jedi Challenges has a 2 player lightsaber mode (I know, right?). At Google’s I/O event last week, they announced a slew of new tools, including a framework for developers to create shared AR experiences – truly shared, collaborative and tangible experiences.

There are a few indicators that suggest to me we are on the cusp of seeing great potential from AR:

  1. Apple has doubled down on an augmented future and they are in a position to create, shape and disrupt entire industries. You can bet that if Apple does shared AR properly it will impact us all, particularly as they’ll likely target education.
  2. Shared experiences are possible and developers have their hands on these tools right now.
  3. With 5G around the corner, real time collaboration will no longer be hampered by lag and slow network speed. 5G is going to change how we work together.

We’d love to know your thoughts on AR and whether it has a future in education. As the technology evolves, what opportunities does it present for assessment, collaboration, story telling and sharing of ideas?

If you’re interested in immersive technologies, look out for our Expanding Reality workshops in the next academic year. In these sessions we get hands on with a range of immersive technologies. To find out more please contact us.

Further links

Shared AR expereinces from Google

Google Chrome AR


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Posted in AR/VR/360

About our blog

We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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