ASU digital culture alumni release augmented reality education app

June 7, 2019

Maureen van Dobben, Amy Rodriguez and Jordan Neel released a mobile application this week — one month after they all graduated with degrees in digital culture from Arizona State University's School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

LeARn is an educational app that uses augmented reality, and the team credits their success so far to opportunities ASU gave them to develop the app, including $3,000 in funding. Photo of ASU student showing elementary school student how to use app. Digital culture students test an app they developed. Photo by Leslie Easton Download Full Image

“We wanted to create this app because we all felt there are lots of interesting ways to use augmented reality in education specifically,” van Dobben said. “It's a really interesting field that is still emerging. Our mixed-reality project integrates augmented reality into the classroom to help young learners master fractions. In this instance, augmented reality helps students understand complex abstract concepts by creating a connection between the numerical form of the fraction and what that number actually represents.”

The team, along with fellow digital culture alum Ryan Black, spent the last year working on the app, which they first demonstrated in December 2018 as part of Arts, Media and Engineering’s Digital Culture Showcase that fall.

“It was the first time we demoed the project outside of our own team,” van Dobben said. “We received really useful feedback about usability, our design and even the practicality of this app.”

The team also competed in the yearlong ASU Research Enterprise’s Virtual Reality Innovation Challenge. After making it to the final round, they received $3,000 toward an equipment budget to finish developing the app.

“The ASURE funding was incredibly helpful for our development,” van Dobben said. “With it, we were able to purchase supplementary tools like a MacBook Pro, an iPad and an Android tablet.”

For the VR Innovation Challenge, participants submitted proposals to develop a use case into a novel and innovative system that utilizes virtual, cinematic, augmented or mixed reality to address and solve a real world problem. Through the course of the challenge, the team collaborated with Betsy Fowler and Leslie Easton of ASU Prep Digital to test the app with sixth, seventh and eight grade students at Garden Lakes Elementary School. According to their study, the students unanimously loved the app, mostly due to its engagement in being able to flip between different symbol representations.

All the finalists showcased their projects in April. The team said they received a lot of positive feedback, including from several people who already want them to expand beyond fractions to trigonometry.  

The app is now available on the GooglePlay store.

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Sanford School graduate student receives poster contest award

June 10, 2019

Arizona State University’s Institute for Social Science Research recently announced the winners of their spring 2019 poster contest. Among them was Annabelle Atkin, a graduate student from the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Each semester the institute invites graduate students to participate in a poster contest. The contest is open to all graduate students who are doing social science research in any field and on any campus at ASU. Pic of Annabelle presenting her poster to three others Annabelle Atkin presenting her research poster.

Atkin, who received an honorable mention award of $400, presented her poster titled, “Developing a Racial-Ethnic Socialization Measure for Multiracial Families”.

Atkin plans to put her poster contest award to good use as it will help to cover the costs of computer software needed for data coding for further work on her project. She has already completed subject interviews, and starting this summer, she will train her research assistants to code the data so that they can all code separately, leading to more accurate results.

Atkin answered some questions about her research project.

Question: What is the purpose of your research project?

Answer: The purpose of my project is to 1) gain an understanding of the types of messages that parents transmit to their multiracial children about race, and 2) develop a measure for researchers to study this process, known as racial-ethnic socialization.

Q: What role do parents play in the lives of multiracial children?

A: The ways that parents teach children to understand race, whether explicitly or implicitly communicated, are important for child development in our racialized society. For example, parents play an important role in helping multiracial children understand their racial group membership, supporting them in exploring their racial-ethnic identity and teaching them how to handle experiences of racial discrimination and marginalization. 

Q: How can you develop your measure and how could that lead to social change?

A: By interviewing multiracial youth, I can better capture their lived experiences of racial-ethnic socialization and write items for a measure that reflects their realities. With this measure, researchers will be able to understand how different types of messages relate to other important developmental processes and outcomes, allowing us to make recommendations for parents about how to effectively discuss race with their children.

John Keeney

Media Relations Coordinator, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics