Augmented reality in education is surging in popularity in schools worldwide. Through augmented reality (AR), educators are able to improve learning outcomes through increased engagement and interactivity. And that’s just for starters. AR even has some surprising advantages over virtual reality (VR).
Here are a few ways AR benefits education… and then a few examples of how it has already worked.
Augmented Reality (AR) in education features aspects that enhance learning of abilities like problem-solving, collaboration, and creation to better prepare students for the future. It is also good for traditional pedagogy focused on technical knowledge and proficiencies.
While AR is still somewhat in its infancy, especially in comparison to virtual reality (VR), it does offer more cost-friendly options to school districts with tighter budgets – while still providing many of the same features and benefits.
The Benefits of AR in Education
AR’s relative seamlessness of digital objects within the “real world” encourages interactivity and engagement. It maximizes students’ ability to spend their time learning curricular subjects while minimizing the time spent learning how to use the new tech.
In addition, as discussed in Stanford News on VR’s applications within the classroom and “the effect of the body’s actions on the mind,” AR can also inspire empathy in an individual. It offers two-dimensional methods of presenting information versus the traditional one-dimension. This combination of interactivity and engagement with emotion, in turn, could enhance the ability of students to remember what they’ve learned– and lead to faster acquisition of information and skills.
Therefore, AR provides students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge within several areas, including:
- Working with numbers
- Spatial concepts
- Content creation
- Real-life environments & scenarios
This can include everything from field trips to exposure to training within different professions.
When combined with assignments involving teamwork, AR similarly helps provide new opportunities for students to learn how to communicate and collaborate with one another. It could potentially also be the same technologies they will use in the workforce later on.
When adopting AR there is also no need for a complete curriculum overhaul: it can be even more effective in supplementing current pedagogical materials by simply adding more contextual experiences. It can be used to just stimulate interest and discussion in different subject areas and be the basis for class activities.
Justin Aglio, a teacher, principal, and Director of Innovation at Montour School District in Pennsylvania, suggests: “if possible, connect the learning to action research – research conducted to solve an immediate problem. What are the benefits of using VR/AR? Have students collect data along the way to research VR and AR’s effectiveness.”
Requirements for AR in the Classroom
A minimal AR setup for almost any class may include:
- an Internet connection
- Mobile devices (i.e. smartphones or tablets)
- AR apps (especially one tailored for education)
- “Triggers” or “Markers” (i.e. images, objects, locations and/or actions that trigger an action on the device screen via the AR app)
Educational AR apps to Get the (3D) Ball Rolling
To provide further guidance for educators looking for suggestions, below are companies and apps that facilitate studying through AR – all of which come recommended by professionals in education.
“Plug ‘n play”: Apps with Ready-to-go AR Content
Below are examples of apps for educators who want a simple introduction to AR or want AR content ready for use in the classroom– including pre-designed triggers and markers.
Quiver – 3D Coloring App. In addition to the items listed above, this AR app will also require students to break out their coloring pencils.
To use Quiver, educators will need to print out coloring pages (trigger images provided by QuiverVision) which students color in. These images are then brought to life on a smartphone/tablet screen by looking at them through the app’s viewer and pressing play.
Educator Terri Eichholz mentioned in one of her blog posts that the Planet Earth coloring page would have been beneficial and engaging to her first graders who had just studied the world’s continents. The app allows children different viewing options, the ability to manipulate the image and even “take pictures and video.”
Ed Tech Specialist, Katie Ann Wilson, gave suggestions for student assignments that help develop storytelling skills, incorporate classmate cooperation, and additional tech skills.
In addition to having “plug and play” content, the following suggestions are for educators also looking for companies that cover multiple academic subjects.
DAQRI and Arloon are two companies that have created AR apps spanning more than one academic discipline.
The former’s Elements 4D and Anatomy 4D apps cover topics in chemistry and anatomy. Arloon Plants, Arloon Mental Math, and Arloon Geometry focus on botany, arithmetic, and geometry.
As is the case with Quiver, these apps also include triggers that can be printed out on paper. DAQRI’s website even includes lesson plans for the Elements 4D app.
Benefits specific to these types of apps vary:
- Allow students to experiment in a safer environment than handling chemicals in real life would otherwise allow
- Learning about plants and their interaction with the environments through virtual growth cycles when space, season
- Save on budget which would otherwise limit students’ ability to make these observations and analyses in the classroom
- Improving understanding of abstract, spatial geometric concepts through manipulation and multi-angle observation of virtual 3D objects
Apps for AR Content Creation
Educational AR apps furthermore provide opportunities for educators ready to create their own AR content and lesson plans, or even for those who would like to engage students in doing the same. In other words, to do this educators and students will have to use AR apps with built-in studios to create their own desired presentations.
Aurasma and Blippar both provide tools to facilitate the creation of AR experiences. For example, art students attending São Paulo, Brazil’s Graded School used Aurasma in conjunction with a green screen app to create an enhanced exhibition for visitors to their gallery. Through this experience, visitors could learn about the influences and techniques behind each work by way of videos featuring the artists – videos that appeared to come out of the artwork directly. Dr. Silvana Meneghini, the Technology Coordinator at the school, provides the three main steps students took to create this “hyperlinked reality” in a blog post entitled “AR that’s ‘Real’ and Focused on Learning.”
In addition, librarian Bethanie O’Dell provided a Blippar tutorial on YouTube for students who were given an interactive assignment on banned books. Educators may benefit in collaborating with technology facilitators if they are interested in curricular integration of AR or measuring the effectiveness of integrating new technologies such as AR.
Conclusion on AR’s Place in Education
AR is evolving to become more cost-friendly, accessible, effective, and essential – including in grounding schoolchildren with the competencies and knowledge required to collaborate with others and get ahead in careers of the future.
A strategic factor that can increase their effectiveness and confidence in these areas will be to design open-ended lessons that enable them to follow their own pursuits. One significant reason for doing so: taking ownership of projects helps increase a student’s feeling of responsibility and engagement with the material. AR can even blur the lines between textbook material and educator- or student-created content. Try out some suggested apps for your first experience of AR in your classroom today.
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