Augmented Reality Christmas Cards

After using Aurasma to great effect this year, I decided to get the WOW factor into our christmas cards!

Aurasma is an App and website that allows you to create videos and attach them to any trigger image. There are some great guides to using Augmented reality in education in the iBook store:

Augmented Reality in PE – Mathew Pullen (@mat6453)

Augmented Reality in Education – Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist)

Augmented Reality In Education – Paul Hamilton (@Paulhamilton8)

I also read a few posts by iPadWells around the subject!

The children started off by creating a christmas card design, as in years gone by. We then used YakItKids App (iPhone App, so change your setting when searching!) to create a short video, animating the christmas card design by adding eyes, mouths and the children’s voices. These videos were then exported to Photos for the next step.

The next part of the process involved using Aurasma, we created a new account and channel before hand and allowed the children in the class to follow the process. This involves adding a video (YakItKids video) to a trigger image (our christmas card. then saving it in a public channel so that parents could access the videos on their iOS or Android device. A video explaining the process can be found below:

I placed a small flyer explaining, simply, how to access the videos on the rear of the card, we also told the children to get their parents to access Aurasma and find the channel. With a little practice this is a fun way of making things a little more exciting. Have a go, don’t be scared!

The children loved this process and we all hope that the parents get to see their videos. Happy Christmas!

Here are some images of the card and the video playing when triggered in Aurasma.

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Accessibility features built into iPads.

Since the introduction of iPads in 2010 there was a raft of accessibility features built into the operating system (iOS). These features enabled users with a variety of additional needs to make effective use of this new innovative technology. In each update to the iOS, Apple have invested heavily in allowing their technology to be accessed by as many users as possible. In the latest update, iOS 8, Apple have added even more excellent features to the accessibility menu. This means that the iPad is a user friendly teaching tool for any classroom but especially inside an SEN one.

How to find the Accessibility features:

Useful tools for the Visually impaired (but not limited to) include:

Invert colours – useful for some that struggle to see white

Greyscale – takes colours off menu makes less fussy

Speech (Sub Menu)  (great tools for the SEN classroom)

Speak selection – highlight text pop up menu will say speak

Speak screen – swipe two fingers down and will speak all text on screen, menu allows options

Speaking rate – change speed of speech

Highlight content – highlights the words being spoken

A run down of how these Speech Accessibility features operate:

The second sub-menu for the visually impaired include:

NB Some excellent features here for any SEN classroom.

Larger text – choose the size of text in most Apple apps

Button shapes – adds an outline to the main buttons to go back through menus; makes them more button like.

Increase contrast  (Sub Menu)

Reduce transparency – takes away the see through nature of some parts of the iOS ecosystem, making them clearer to read

Reduce white point – makes whites and other bright colours less bright and glaring


Reduce motion – stops the ‘whoosh’ of apps when they open or close. Stops the movement of the background behind the menus, lots report stops feeling sick when using. Highly recommended to do this to class set of iPads.

On/off switches – gives buttons a 1 and 0, making it clearer for on/off

A run through of these Accessibility features:

The next sub menu is that of Hearing. I personally have very little experience of using this area of the Accessibility menu, although knowing how user friendly iOS devices are i’m sure it would be a simple process to make use of these features in the classroom.

Hearing Aids – allows connection via Bluetooth directly to some brands and models of Hearing Aids.

Mono audio – changes headphones output and speaker to one channel, can change the level for L or R.

A look at Mono Audio feature:

Next, comes the Guided Access function. This is the function that is potentially the most requested by all teachers, but especially those working within the SEN sector! Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the world of…

Guided access – when turned on allows you to lock to an app. Also allows to disable areas of apps, such as buttons, adverts etc. Make sure to set a memorable passcode (the same for all being used in a classroom)-once locked in guided access very difficult to get out of without loosing all data. Also allows to set time limits for children to be inside app, great to use for rewards with TEACCH system.

Lastly, a great tool for those children that have poor motor skills. Inside the Interaction menu, we have..

Home-click speed – allows you to adjust the speed of double and triple clicks on the home button. Three settings. Very useful for those children who struggle to press buttons quickly.


Have a play and a try with some of these in your classroom, some really great, free functions!

Displaying your iPad screen in the classroom.


It is a well know fact that children learn and take in videos and can respond and do the tasks asked, with much greater effect once they have seen a video of the task. This is why, when interactive whiteboards came out, they were the goto classroom tool.

When using iPads in the classroom, displaying the iPad screen, is the most valuable way of explaining to children what to do, especially in the SEN classroom, it also allows you to be dynamic, being able to walk around the classroom and present from anywhere. To this end you can use the projector, that is no doubt in your classroom, to display an exact ‘mirror’ of what is on your iPad display.

There are three main options, dependant on the equipment in your classroom/school, two app/program based and one hardware based.

If you want to use your available hardware; laptop or computer connected to a projector or display, the two available options are programs that run on the computer, these are Reflector and AirServer. These both retail at around £10 per licence (each machine) and work in the same way, connecting to your iOS device using the WiFi and Local network, both offer the ability to record your iPad’s screen. I personally use AirServer, but have experienced both. As an institution we had to invest heavily with the infrastructure on site to allow this system to work well, new Wifi network, switches etc BUT this has helped with the use of iPads within the school and would no doubt have had to take place at some point.

The other, more expensive, option is to use Apple TV, a piece of hardware, made by Apple. It links to an iOS device wirelessly but without the need to be on a WiFi network, connecting via Bluetooth or WiFi (newer models only). This can have its advantages, but at £80 £59 each it can be an expensive option, the output is also HDMI, so if using older projectors (VGA connections) an adaptor would also need to be purchased.

Connecting your iOS device to any of the three systems is child’s play, using the inbuilt AirPlay function in your iOS device. Below is a video explaining the basics of this functionality:

Sometimes this mirroring technology can ‘drop out’, losing the video link, but more often than not, simple reconnection will get it working again quickly.

If you decide that you don’t want to use any of these wireless options (or as a backup, just in case) you could always hardwire your iOS device to your projector using the available connecting wires. This IS the most reliable method, but does ‘tie’ you to the front of classroom, making the whole teaching process much less dynamic (they are also quite expensive!)