A couple of weeks ago I came across Gabsee on Twitter. Its a fun little app for creating AR avatars that has the unique feature of taking your selfie and applying it to the avatar (you just add the hair and clothes.) You can select one of several actions for your character and then place it on a surface in the real world via AR. It's a fun, simple tool and not one that is necessarily aimed at the classroom.
That being said, other avatar creation apps like Tellagami were never intended for education but became so popular that the developers ended up making dedicated education editions. Perhaps Gabsee has no obvious application in the classroom but a creative educator can find a way to harness a tool like this to make an impact. So I put some thought into how this app could be integrated into the classroom and the concept I kept coming back to was the idea of enriching feedback. "Augmented Feedback" if you like.
I've spoken at several events about the power of multimedia feedback. I'm sure many of you will have experienced that soul crushing moment when you've spent hours marking student work (perhaps with multiple colours of highlighter?) only to watch in dismay as students turn straight past your feedback to the next blank page in their exercise books. This is why I love things like the audio buttons you can add in Book Creator or OneNote - students will pretty much always click on an audio button that houses feedback. They simply can't resist finding out what it says. The same applies for video feedback such as you can deliver through platforms like Seesaw. In fact a couple of years ago I was teaching a Year 6 class and had a boy who was seriously smart but a really reluctant writer. Using a multimedia feedback approach (via Seesaw) I was able to support him in reaching his full potential.
Nonetheless from time to time you will come across a student who will always be reluctant to engage with feedback. They're usually underachieving, may have additional learning needs and will normally be receptive to a little special attention... enter Gabsee.
Using Gabsee a teacher can very quickly produce a unique, engaging slice of feedback with the teacher actually standing on the student's work. I've put together a little montage with a few examples of how this could look:
As the videos can be saved to the camera roll, they can be easily shared via platforms like Seesaw, Showbie or Edmodo.
Some of you will be reading this and thinking that it's a bit of a gimmick. I'll let you in on a secret - of course it is!
But the truth is that a gimmick can make a genuine impact in the classroom as long as it is harnessed carefully and with meaningful purpose. Would I use this all the time? No. Would I use it over a sustained period of time? Probably not. But if I can direct one student's attention to some crucial feedback or build their self-confidence then I'd see that as a win.
Download Gabsee here and try it for yourself.
Gabsee for students
When I originally drafted this, I had a paragraph near the start advising educators not to let students use Gabsee directly since a couple of the animations were a little inappropriate. The great news is that Gabsee have already taken feedback from educators and removed the potentially offensive gestures. They even hosted a recent #ARVRinEDU Twitter chat so they have definitely recognised the potential for the app in education.
With the doors open for student use, here are a few ideas for what they could use it for:
1. Self assessing a piece of work in a similar style to the examples above.
2. Peer assessing work in a similar fashion.
3. Combine with greenscreen to insert the avatars into various worlds. A lot of potential for digital storytelling right there.
4. Combine wit Aurasma/Blippar/Zappar - film the Gabsee clips then tag them to different places around the classroom. Perhaps they could be reminders of class rules.
5. Have students record a short Gabsee clip as they enter the class in the morning to share how they are feeling (using their choice of animation + their voice) tehn submit through a platform like Seesaw, Padlet or OneNote. A quick way to gain insight into any emotional/social issues that could affect learning.