Not Business(cards) As Usual Lesson Plan

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Part I. Using THEIR  smartphones for YOUR class assignments:  

Augmented Reality.

The Talking Business Card

Preface to this lesson:  I don’t know when I gave up.  I just did. Students busily thumbing away on their smartphones, snapchatting when they should be participating, candy-crushing when they should be reading, selfie-making when they should be communicating in English with each other.  I have given up on making these tech addicts ‘put it away’. Instead, I now actively encourage them to use their phones to do things for class. Now, admittedly I am not the first to do this, but I am probably one of the first to have them use their cellphones as video capture devices, as research tools, as a mini language lab, and now, as a tool to create augmented reality.  Believe it or not, students are now more selective as to when they take out their phones in my class. I tell students I assume they want to use their cellphones since so many are out in plain sight.


I learned THIS difficult lesson from having textbooks for my intermediate and advanced English classes:


The more I demanded students  bring their textbooks to class, the more often the students would forget them in their car, under their bed, or forget they ‘loaned it to a friend’.  “Lo que pasa es que…”

When I first started this series of little projects, I wasn’t quite prepared for how my students were going to react.  Smart phones suddenly disappeared when I started asking students to make things like videos, podcasts, and required speaking assignments.  Smartphones languished in book bags whenever I asked them to use them for any purpose other than chat or selfies. At first I practically had to beg them to get their phones out and use them.  But I didn’t give up and now, I have heard every excuse and reason not to use the phone, and respond with a firm, “It’s for a grade, and there are lots of ways to do this, but using your phone is the easiest, fastest way to get the assignment done”.  I will give more details later on how else I use students’ smart phones in class, but for this entry, I am going to start with a recent project that introduces students to the idea of augmented reality.

The Talking Business Card                                                                       Levels A1 and Up

Suggested class time 3-4 hours                                                        Anticipated cost $ =low

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to

  • describe a business card and its purpose including its history
  • Introduce themselves and/or  talk about their interests and/ or use persuasive speech
  • use personal technology for a creative purpose
  • use reading and listening skills to follow simple instructions

More specific objectives may be derived based on teacher/class needs

Optional Activity for reading: The history of the business card.  Download here.

Necessary materials:

  • Smartphone,
  • Local or at home internet access
  • Crafts: scissors, cardboard or paper, colored paper (optional).  Pencils or pens, colored markers or paints for larger scale work.
  • A variety of business cards for explanation/demonstration purposes. Enough for each group, or individual if possible.
  • The links in this lesson

Teacher note:  It’s critical that you have completed a talking business card of your own before attempting this lesson.  In so doing, you remove the’ that’s impossible’ filter from students’ minds and you can encourage them to make a better card than you did.

Introduction/warm-up suggestions:

Begin by showing SS a business card and eliciting what it is in their own language.

Questions:   What is it called in English?   Have the students ever received one?   From whom? What does a business card do? What is it for? What information might you find there?  How long have business cards been around?  (If you are using the history lesson, see above)

First Activity(10-15 mins).  Supplies needed: Craft supplies, markers, paper, etc.

Pt. 1 Make a business card that tells everything there is to know about you.  This is an opportunity for you, the teacher, to get students to summarize or prioritize their personal characteristics, interests or values to a manageable level  A business card after all, usually fits in a shirt pocket or a wallet.

Suggested topics for student’s business cards:  Athletic abilities, dating interests, hobbies, clubs, gaming, etc.  See video below for more ideas

  1. Consider the shape of the card as a means of communicating a student’s interest.
  2. Should students use words or pictures or both?

Suggested video:

Pt. 2. (5-10 mins).Students should exchange their cards with other students or partners in the class.  Students then should interpret what the card they now have is trying to say. Randomly check and seek student responses to their cards. Optionally, have students report to the class.  Do they understand what the new card is all about? Was the message communicated clearly?

Pt 3. (20-30) mins.  Explain to the students that they will be creating the business card of the future. Elicit responses to the question: “ What might a future business card look like? “

For this assignment the challenge is to create a business card that 1. Has only one word on it, and 2. one distinctive logo that represents the owner of the card.  

  1. Students should make a new card in a shape that they feel represents their interest or personality
  1. Students should create a logo in black and white, or other high contrast combination of  colors. Here is a video about creating logos  Remember,simple is best, and no, you don’t need to make one on a computer.
  1. Check up on student progress.  Once everyone has completed their work, conduct a brief review of what was done or learned for that block of instruction.

Part II: Creating the augmented reality card (2 hours maximum)

Materials needed: Smarphones, internet access, student created business cards and logos.  The smartphones will be used to make videos during this block of instruction. For this portion of the class time, it is critical that students see a working augmented reality card. To create your card first, follow the steps below.  

Information on creating an augmented reality business card

  1. Download and install the HP Reveal App available in App Store or Play Store. (Free)
  2. Create an account.  You will be asked for an email for verification, a username and password…keep both of these simple students and teachers are prone to forgetting.  Open the app.

See how it works (See helpful video link, below)

  1. Once you are logged in and verified, you can “Discover Auras”.  Click into the box and conduct a search for the usernames of others. For this demo, you can type in ‘wademexico’ and see a list of my auras.  Click on ‘wademexico’s Public Auras’. When you do, you should see one image. Click follow. ’ Return to the main app screen. You should see at the bottom a blue circle with a viewfinder in the center.  Click on it.
  2. You will need to allow HP Reveal access to the camera.
  3. Once you do that, point the camera at the object that has an ‘aura’.  In this case it’s my business card. Scan it with your HP Reveal app

A video should appear. It’s me from a few years ago…no moustache, no goatee…a little heavier.

my business card

I added an action to the video, so if you click the video you can go to my website (creative inc)  


  1. How cool is that? Which is the next question the app will ask you, then will prompt you to make your own.  So you can agree at that point, or you can cancel and return to the main menu. Clicking to create your own aura will take you to the camera screen.  (Continues below)

To make a new aura you will need the following:  

  • The logo you created in the beginning of this lesson
  • A 45 second or less, good quality video that you use to introduce yourself. You can make one pretty quickly with your phone and it will be very convenient in the steps ahead.

A few notes about the student videos: Remind students before they record their videos that the card they are making represents who they are.  Make sure their personality shows through and that they are confident. Have them practice what they are going to say before they make their video.

  1. From the main screen click the “+” sign.  
  1. Center your logo in the center of viewfinder, and that it fills the area of the viewfinder.  
  2. If your logo doesn’t have enough contrast, or lacks details, you may not be able to take a picture.  If that’s the case, modify, or change the logo until the white dot in the color band at the top of the screen moves from red to green.
  3. Hold your phone steady and take the picture.  This is called a trigger image
  1. Choose Overlay: You will then have to add an overlay, which is a video that will appear over the image.   You will see on the overlays screen a lot of pre-fabricated videos and images you can use for a variety of projects.  For our purposes though you will want to access the video you made on your camera. So click “Device” and look for your video file.  Once you have it, give it a simple name. Click Done in the top right. Depending on your internet connection, it might be awhile. Hopefully not too long.
  1. Position your overlay. Grab and pull or turn the video to suit your taste or needs.  (Mine covers the original business card, but it didn’t have to.) Then click “Next”
  1. Give the complete aura a simple name. Mine was ‘wadebc’ (Wade’s business card, get it?).
  1. In the area below the name you will see “Choose a channel…” and below that
  1. Create a new channel
  2. My Private Auras
  3. Or …username’s Public Auras

 Click on the last option, public auras, and then click “Submit’ on the top right corner.

  1.  You can now share it with friends via direct link on Facebook and a variety of other apps.  Have students trade their cards and let others see their business card of tomorrow.  

Here’s what a shared image looks like. Just search on your HP reveal for wadepaxton and you can scan and watch the image.

HP Reveal Image

Shared HP Reveal image

Part III.  Follow-up and Conclusion:

Augmented or ‘enhanced’ reality can add a lot of information to a simple object.  What else can the students think of to use this technology? At school? In their personal lives?   Where do they think augmented reality might be most helpful for people? How might it be useful for students and teachers in the classroom?

Finally, on a personal note, students generally have a good time with this activity and once they get the hang of using HP Reveal they will often spread it around with their friends from other classes and schools.

I hope you will try this activity for yourself.  Please let me know how it went. I am always looking for ways to improve this activity, so please send me feedback.  Where? I already gave you my business card.

Helpful Video here