Augmented Reality Learning Trails at Hong Kong Baptist University

University uses augmented reality to create “Trails of Integrity & Ethics”

When new technologies come along, educators like Dr. Eva Wong begin to consider ways to apply them to enhance learning. Inspired by keynote speaker, Professor Mark Pegrum from the University of Western Australia, Dr. Wong had a sudden realization. Couldn’t augmented reality on mobile phones be applied to abstract concepts like ethics and academic integrity? Not only did the epiphany lead to the development of specific gamified learning, but also it has inspired Hong Kong Baptist University to create many free downloadable apps to address much more.

Inspired by the possibilities, Dr. Wong put together a team partnering with other area universities and a development company, and applied for a grant to fund the development of Trails of Integrity & Ethics (TIE). By combining mobile technology and augmented reality, students are motivated to learn, engage, and share knowledge on academic integrity and ethics. Learning trails were designed for students to explore different scenarios as they walk about campus using geo-location mapping. Ethical dilemmas like plagiarism or data falsification puts students into the scenario situation where they must make ethical decisions.

Dr. Wong, Director for the Center for Holistic Teaching and Learning, feels it is much better than 2D online tutorials or reading through rules and regulations. A professor from the Education University of Hong Kong agrees.

Beyond Trails of Integrity and Ethics, Hong Kong Baptist University’s Resource Centre for Ubiquitous Learning and Integrated Pedagogy coordinates another project related to mobile learning. Eric Chow, Senior Mobile Applications Developer, and his team develop mobile apps in-house that can be downloaded and used by anyone around the world.  From Chinese Medicinal Plants and Music of North India to Analytical Chemistry and Principles of Economics, these apps are created for both iOS and Android.

Whether looking at “Trails of Integrity and Ethics” or the suite of learning apps they have developed, these tools are having a tremendous impact on student outcomes across multiple disciplines not only at their university but also in universities across the world.  Thanks Hong Kong Baptist University!


One of the continual challenges in online learning is dealing with student disregard for intellectual property, plagiarism, breaching of examination rules, and not maintaining the proper ethical approach to learning and life. Traditional methods of emphasizing the meaning and importance of academic integrity and ethics are not proving very effective. Helping students understand the concept of having proper conduct in these areas and be able to intrinsically internalize it so that behaving ethically and acting with integrity becomes a mindset is often difficult. They don’t understand how critical it is to their personal development future career.

A mandatory online exercise called the Academic Integrity Online Tutorial (AIOT) was in place to increase awareness; however, it was not a sufficient solution. Not only did it lack being highly engaging, but it also proved difficult for students to relate the ethical concepts to real-life. Even with severe penalties, misconduct continued to increase at an alarming rate. In light of this something had to be done.

AR Teaching Game & Tools for Academic Integrity and Ethics

Making use of an Augmented Reality (AR) tool, AR-Learn produced by the Singaporean company Impact Media, with a combination of mobile technology and a Learning Management System (LMS), Hong Kong Baptist University’s Centre for Holistic Teaching and Learning partnered with area institutions to bring scenarios of academic integrity and ethics to real-life situation for students in an innovative digital learning environment.

Called Trails of Integrity and Ethics (TIEs), students engage in real-life learning scenarios. As they walk about using their mobile devices, they retrieve information and produce responses as they are put into different circumstances and locations. The ‘ethical induction’ learning trails consist of checkpoints, which are physical locations within the university campus.

Using the AR technologies such as QR code scanning, image recognition, GPS and blue-tooth, students follow fictitious characters that confront ethical dilemmas. The learning activities act as a digital overlay of information on top of the real-world setting. At the end of each scenario, the students are presented with different ethical choices about the issues involved. They make decisions and are presented with the consequences of their choices. Ongoing, further discussions take place within the LMS. The process is designed to embed concepts of academic integrity and encourage them to act upon them.

Through a discussion (online or in-class) that takes place prior to going on the ethical induction trail,’ students share their current understanding of issues as they relate to academic integrity and ethics. After participating in the learning trail, they enter, once again, into another discussion and share what was learned.

A learning analytics algorithm from a partner institution is used to extract keywords from the contents of the student discussions and analyze them to ascertain effectiveness of learning. Evidence is revealed of dramatic increasing the students’ understanding and shifting their views of concepts.

The project has progressed with the development of subject-specific trails, having scenarios applicable across more disciplines including but not limited to Sports & Recreation, Residential Education, Laboratory Safety Ethics, English Language, Business Ethics and Humanities.

AR, Gamification, and Mobile Apps for Learning

The success of this augmented reality mobile game has spun the mobile education appsdevelopment of other mobile apps by Hong Kong Baptist University’s Resource Centre for Ubiquitous Learning & Integrated Pedagogy.

In an article written for Design for Learning called Gamification of Learning: An Asian Perspective, Eric and a colleague describe some of the apps and their impact as well as discuss AR, VR, and gamification for learning.

Eric points out, “…learning is becoming more and more ubiquitous, as device portability enables students to learn anytime and anywhere.”

Whether teaching students to understand proper phonetics of the English language or how to work through analytical chemistry challenges, Hong Kong Baptist University knows how to engage students and increase learning outcomes.  It’s no wonder this institution is receiving awards for their outstanding work!