Dec 16th: Aurasma



Nurse and patient image

Aurasma is a free Augmented Reality app that can be downloaded from the App Store or Google play. It can also be accessed via a web browser. Aurasma “turns everyday objects, images, and places into new, interactive opportunities to engage…. through striking graphics, animation, video, audio, and 3D content”. As an app its focus appears to be very much in relation to marketing and engaging potential customers; however, as we discovered it can be used to bring learning to life too.



pin_rdWho am I?

Mel Lindley  FHEA, MCSP
Learning Enhancement Lead: Innovations in teaching
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University

I am Mel Lindley  (FHEA, MCSP), the Learning Enhancement Lead for Innovations in Teaching in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing at Sheffield Hallam University.  I work with course teams in supporting the design and delivery of innovative and engaging teaching practice; and provide staff training and support. My current doctoral study is exploring the educational impact of TEL in healthcare education.  I am also a Principal Lecturer teaching on a wide range of programmes from Undergraduate Physiotherapy to Postgraduate Healthcare Education.

Ultimately I am absolutely passionate about working with students and academics to bring about a vibrant and meaningful learning experience for all. Here’s a pic of me and some of my team (I’m the one with ‘vibrant’ hair; Joe and David are our two TEL Support Advisors).

pin_rdWho we are as an organisation
Sheffield Hallam University is a large modern university in the North of England.  It origins are two 19th century schools which have grown and developed over the years to become one of the UK’s largest universities; with approximately 32,000 students.  It has four academic faculties;

  • Arts, computing, engineering and Science
  • Development and Society
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Sheffield Business School

The campus is situated across two sites; Collegiate Crescent and City.  I’m based at Collegiate; which has a lovely mix of …

pin_rdWho is using the App?
We use Aurasma within our BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy programme at levels 4 and 5 (years 1 and 2).

pin_rdCase Study
This App has been particularly helpful in bringing the cardiorespiratory teaching to life.  Students previously identified that the cardiorespiratory element of the curriculum was the most challenging to understand and apply to clinical practice prior to placement learning.  Issues that contribute to this are the underpinning theory and the difficulty students have in visualising aspects of clinical presentation.

In other aspects of the curriculum students can often observe movements and practice on each other to develop musculoskeletal therapeutic skills; and in some modules we work with patients and service users who come into teaching sessions so students can assess and treat them.  Unfortunately, in the field of cardiorespiratory it is impossible (not to mention unethical and dangerous) to ask anyone who is presenting with acute respiratory distress to come to university (as opposed to hospital!).  We therefore needed to get creative in order to bridge the gap for students and make learning more meaningful.

The  use  of  virtual  and  simulated  environments  in healthcare education is well established as a means of enabling students to perform tasks and make, detect and correct errors without the added pressure of clinically experiencing any adverse consequences.  Medium-fidelity simulated case studies had already been embedded within the module in an attempt to better develop clinical assessment and reasoning skills; however, students found it challenging working with manikins when they had little or no clinical experience to draw on.

In order to feasibly deliver simulation within the module students were required to act as clinical Physios whilst tutors undertook the role of nurses and/or doctors to provide the necessary information about the patient.  However, students found the role-play element challenging due to lack of clinical experience; and also reported difficulties in visualizing their patient case studies presenting with increased work of breathing, or severe breathlessness impacting on the ability to speak .

We therefore decided to work with volunteers and service users to video them in a clinical setting and use this as a basis of a case study.  The Aurasma App enabled us to use iPads within the scenario to  superimpose a range of patient videos onto the manikins to try and make the simulated  case study come to life.

Here’s a promotional video produced by the nursing team who used Aurasma too initially; whilst the case study is different to the ones used in Physio it will hopefully give you a good idea of how we have used the App:  

By working in this way students have reported a huge improvement in both their experience of  simulation within the module and their understanding of the clinical presentation associated with a number of respiratory conditions.

By using the videos the students are able to glean much more information from the patient themselves rather than relying on the ‘handover’ from the nurses / doctors (aka physio tutors).

These videos are very short (often a minute or less) and are not particularly ‘polished’.  As tutors we were not entirely convinced prior to use they would have a significant impact; however, the positive  responses from students and the relative value placed upon them far exceeded our expectations

Tutors have also been able to take a slightly less active role in the scenario and hence have been able to observe and facilitate as necessary, rather than being immersed in the scenario themselves.

One additional observation is that some students seemed to transition into their professional role more easily as a result of using the patient videos and started to communicate with the manikin in a more meaningful way.  This has enabled the team to further reinforce the ‘hello my name is….’ campaign.

pin_rdChallenges and Recommendations
Training and support for module tutors in how to set-up the App ready for use is essential; and even following training, some staff did not feel confident in doing this in addition to running the simulated scenario.   Lack of staff confidence in integrating new technologies into teaching cannot be underestimated; but the App has definitely got easier to setup and use in more recent updates.

By creating an account and signing in to the App, it does make life easier in setting up and accessing your stored videos.

Audio playback volume is a consideration. Despite having the volume set on max, using the App in this way to relay patient information in busy teaching sessions can mean students struggle to hear; especially those not directly in front of the screen.  Ensuring your video also has high quality audio is therefore essential in this context.    I haven’t yet explored the possibility of closed captioning; so audio transcripts are required to ensure the videos are accessible for all students (but this is the same of any video content, and doesn’t pertain to this app specifically).

pin_rdFuture Plans
We currently only have a very small bank of videos, but are aiming to go out into clinical practice and generate a wider variety of different case scenarios with service users.  Whilst the logistics and  resourcing of this has created some barriers previously, there is real appetite from the module team to do this; especially in light of the strength of student feedback about how valuable the integration of AR with simulation is.

We have a number of paper-based case studies that range from community respiratory patients through to those on the wards following an operation.  With a bit of forward planning and the appropriate consent and permissions it is hoped that we can develop many more videos.

We are also in talks with some teams as to using AR within teaching rooms to demonstrate how to use specialist equipment

pin_rdGetting Started

Have a go yourselves!  It’s really simple to set-up and create your own.  Here’s the official Aurasma set-up video showing you how. .  Although as it’s fairly self-explanatory, I just signed in and had a go by following each of the steps. 

Ultimately all you need to do is decide on whatever you want to augment, record a video,  take a snapshot of the item, and then follow the steps to link the video to the image to be recognised so that it will automatically start to play your video when the image is seen.

Exclamation markHave a go yourselves!
Why not create an Aurasma of yourself at work?  Do you have a staff noticeboard with your image on?  Would you like it to come to life and for students to know who you are and what you are passionate about?  If so….

*Use your tablet to create a quick talking head about who you are and what you do

  • Try and make sure that the video is mainly of your head and shoulders without too much background clutter as this can sometimes confuse the app and make the play-back jump around
  • Here’s a quick example – I’ve got a bit of laryngitis so I’m a bit croaky!

*Head over with your tablet to your noticeboard at work and use the Aurasma app to take a frame of your work photo.

  • You will need to press the + icon in the top right hand corner to create a new aurasma
  • This will then ask you to take a photo which will be the trigger for your augmented reality

Aurasma exmaple

*Follow the steps to overlay the video onto the snapshot

  • You can access the video you have just created from your camera roll

*You will need to name your aurasma

  • you can make it private so its is not shared with the world.

Aurasma button


*Once you have completed your aurasma; with the App open, press the purple square icon at the bottom of the screen



Aurasma dots


*The flashing  ‘dots’ will then appear.  This tells you it is ready to start…..



Aurasma video of Melanie




*Hold your tablet up to your photo on the notice board. Hey presto! (with any luck) the talking head of you will appear.




red pin imageFeel free to get in contact

Mrs. Melanie Lindley

Email: | Twitter: @MelLindley | Skype: shu.mel.lindley

Direct line: 0114 225 2483 |  Mobile 07795521172

Room f509 | Robert Winston Building | Collegiate Crescent

Faculty of Health and Wellbeing |  Sheffield Hallam University  | S10 2BP




13 thoughts on “Dec 16th: Aurasma

  1. I love the idea, and the basic interface works quite well if you want to just record and go. However, there seems to be a fairly major disconnect between the app and the web-based versions of the software. I want to record something using my smartphone, then edit and tweak it when I get back to my desk. Unfortunately it won’t let you do that – you have to create it originally via the web site if you want to access it in both places. That seems like a fairly ridiculous limitation, imho. That makes the workflow something like : Go to location and take photo with phone. Go back to desk and upload photo and make aura. Share. Go back to location and test with phone. Go back to desk and modify if required. Repeat until correct. I’d prefer to do the creation and rough testing in-situ, then go back and tweak where I have more granular control.

    The possibilities for using it around campus, particularly for induction events, could be really powerful however, so may need to play with it some more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Duncan,
      Yeah, its a bit of a limitation but as long as the video is on the device you are using once you’ve edited it you are good to go. We tend to use SendAnywhere or JetDrive to transfer between PC and iPad depending on file size so we can edit videos on PCs / laptops then transfer it back. A bit of a faff I agree.

      Does that help???? (And sorry if the answer is ‘no’)
      Best wishes


      1. Hi Mel.

        I guess that as the people creating these will normally be technically adept, it is a faff but nothing more. It does mean it becomes more difficult to get staff to engage with it though.

        I had a go at putting one together this afternoon, and it worked quite well. I can see myself using it at home with my daughters, but I suspect that until they clean up the creation process between platforms a bit it won’t be something we’ll take on institutionally.




  2. This is so cool! I can see some great implications and ideas for teaching leadership development. Case studies and scenarios would be much more life like using this method.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our students in our BioMedical magnet could definitely make use of this, especially since they aren’t qualified to work with actual human patients.


  4. I can see possibilities for this app in my workplace, but I can also see roadblocks in the form of security measures and teacher willingness to try it out. The case study helped me to understand how Aurasma works.


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