A dozen museum educators stand nervously and watch a class of elementary school kids pour into the Minnesota History Center, iPods in hand. After a 10-minute orientation from their teachers, they stream into the exhibit about life on the American frontier. They’re using a program on the iPods called ARIS to read QR codes attached to objects in the exhibit. Each QR code tells ARIS that the student has fulfilled a step of their selected ARIS quest, and the museum educators are nervous because they designed and prototyped these quests just an hour ago. (Check out a video demo of ARIS here.)

After their visit, the kids evaluate the quests. Did they learn anything? Yes. Was it fun? Yes! Was it fun because just because they got to use iPods? No. It’s hard to ask for more out of an hour’s worth of work creating a mobile educational game (granted, this was a highly unscientific survey).

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