There’s a new comic book shop that recently opened in downtown Skokie (Aw Yeah Comics for those that are interested), and it is quickly becoming a tradition for the family to walk over there and pick up a couple of books from the quarter bins.  During our last trip, I picked up a comic for myself, a new cross over event called “Avengers vs X-Men“.

This was the first paper comic book I’ve read in quite a long time, and while I enjoyed flipping the pages, the physical comic was just one of several layers that became available.  I noticed an “AR” symbol on quite a few pages, but didn’t have any real clue what it was all about until I found a page mentioning additional content available through the Marvel AR app (iOS and Android).  A quick download later, and every time I saw that symbol, I was scanning the page with my phone and getting additional video content, commentary from the writers, and seeing certain pages evolve from pencils, to ink, to being filled in with color.  It was like being able to flip on the director’s commentary track on a DVD as you’re reading.  I absolutely loved the experience and it left me hungry for more.

Avengers (comics)

Avengers (comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also got a very pleasant surprise when I hit the last page fo the comic.  There was a sticker to peel off that provided a code you could use to download the digital copy of the comic which you could read via app or browser.  I’ve used th

e Marvel app before and they really nailed the reading experience.  It’s a fantastic way to read comics, I just haven’t wanted to spend the $$ to purchase many.

That said, if I can support a local business, have the paper version to share with my son, get the augmented reality extra content, and download a digital copy of the comic, all for the same price?   I’m all over it.  Major props to Marvel comics, they’ve figured out a winning formula for keeping paper comics relevant in an increasingly digital age.  If you want to see what all this looks like, check out the video below.

So many elements of school are still based on paper.  Traditional textbooks, workbooks, study guides, posters, and of course the work that students create.  QR codes and related technologies are allowing every educator and student to add digital layers to their own paper projects as well, but how many are actually leveraging it?  When a student creates an art project, why not allow them to tag it with a QR code that links to other projects they’ve done?  Or a video showing the way they created it?  Or a survey asking viewers to share their impressions?  When a teacher hands out a page of information, why not include a link to a digital version that has extra links, videos and activities for the students to dig deeper.  It can provide additional info for the students who need it, or new challenges for students that are ready to push a little further.  And the best part is, it’s incredibly easy to do.

Why aren’t more print companies leveraging this technology?  And why aren’t more teachers jumping on board?  Low level of effort and high reward.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Oh, and for those of you that are curious about how Marvel is handling their AR, it’s through Aurasma.  Think QR Codes without those pesky squares.  Well worth exploring.