Over the years, our world has slowly been revolutionized by technological advancements in various fields, and education is no exception. Augmented reality (AR), is a technology which allows seamless integration of the virtual and physical realms. Currently, it stands as one of the latest concepts with a potential to change how we relate with the world around us.
Previously, this technology has been mostly in the background. Now, however, it has developed to present a unique opportunity for humanity to extend its capability in multiple disciplines.
From an educational point of view, augmented reality offers various different benefits. It allows better understanding of otherwise complex topics by providing visual and interactive learning experiences. AR improves overall engagement in learning, can encourage teamwork and is also able help those with visual impairment.
The result of this blend of realities is that it offers a more relatable presentation of both temporal and spatial concepts. AR also provides a contextual link between real and virtual objects.
In this article, we will have a closer look at the potential benefits that both teachers and learners can enjoy from this phenomenal technology.
The Role of Augmented Reality in Education
They say a picture is more than a thousand words, and nothing brings this old adage to life more than augmented reality with regards to education.
AR may soon disrupt the conventional learning process. First, AR has the potential to change the location and timing when it comes to learning. Moreover, this technology is able to introduce new and additional ways and methods of learning and solving problems.
For instance, instead of reading a chapter, it will be more efficient to visualize the subject via AR. This way, the learner can acquire better understanding and insights about what they are studying.
One of the most significant benefits of AR in learning is the fact that it does not require any additional investments with regards to hardware. Our smartphones and tablets can easily let us experience AR.
Currently, 80% of young people own and use smartphones actively. Nonetheless, most of them use these gadgets for non-educational purposes such as accessing social platforms and playing games.
The potential of fusing smartphones and AR for learning is huge but is not yet fully achieved due to the fact that the technology is still at its infant stages. In addition, many “would be” users are still oblivious of this potential. For instance, did you know that some AR applications allow you to place your smartphone camera in front of a text book and turn any 2D images into a 3D animation?
The Benefits of Augmented Reality in Education
In the following section, we have listed some of the ways AR can be leveraged to help students learn faster and more effectively.
Enhance the Learning Experience in the Classroom
The most obvious advantage of AR in education is the fact that it completely changes how students interact with the world around them, and therefore, how they learn various concepts.
By animating learning content in the classroom, educators can catch the attention of their students as well as motivate them to learn in these dynamic times. As it stands, educational organizations can utilize AR inside the classroom in two major ways.
First, instructors can purchase or develop printed learning materials such as flash cards and textbooks containing AR markers. Students can then use their smart devices to scan the marked content and trigger the digital overlay. This ‘augmented reality’ can even be accompanied by auditory content played via headsets or directly from the speakers.
Secondly and more practically, students can use applications that allow them to create custom markers. Such apps are able to combine immersive AR learning experiences with any object in the classroom. This may be a page on a book, posters on the walls, 3D models or even a student’s desktop.
AR Can be Utilized to Explain Abstract and Intricate Ideas
Using AR technology, we are capable of creating a 3D rendering of any physical object. This way, teachers can take any abstract or complex idea and turn it into something virtually tangible for learners. As result, students can approach the same concept in different ways and have a more concrete understanding of the problem at hand.
For visual learners, this would be the perfect way to learn and make theoretical ideas seem more plausible. As we speak, some institutions such as the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria in Portugal are already using this type of AR to teach Mathematics. As you would expect, the students report that learning with AR is easier, helpful and entertaining.
Increased Level of Engagement and Interactivity
Getting all the students in a classroom to pay attention is a challenge that teachers face every day. Some students are naturally reluctant to learn while others find it hard to engage with the learning content. AR-based learning is an appealing way to keep students highly motivated to learn through the use of 3D animations and other AR interactions.
The unpredictable and simultaneous world of AR is a more enriched experience compared to books and traditional learning materials. AR keeps students in suspense, unlike a textbook that they can simply flip through the pages and see what’s next, thereby getting bored.
AR has made learning through visuals accessible in a classroom environment, which turns every lesson into its own discovery journey. Visual learning increases the level of concentration in class and gets students to easily pay attention. This is an effective learning method unlike listening to a lecture or reading text.
With a curious and eager state of mind, students gain a deeper understanding of their world and are eager to unlock new experiences through learning.
AR adds a touch of mystery that will keep students motivated and provide easily accessible information for them learn something new and relate it to their physical world. It creates a wholesome and fun environment for students to learn and expand their imaginative and creative abilities. According to research by McGraw-Hill Education, 53% of college students in the U.S. prefer classes that utilize digital technologies.
Make class trips more informative and fun
Many museums and historical sites are incorporating AR features to their exhibitions in a bid to appeal to a population that depends heavily on technology to access information. Displays marked with AR can replace the “guided audio tours” that were popular in such places in the 2000s.
With regards to learning, students visiting such places can use their smartphones to access additional information regarding what they are looking at. Normally, curators have to be involved to ensure the information relayed in these AR experiences are relevant and accurate.
Inclusivity for Peole with Special Needs
Another benefit offered by AR in education is its ability to include students with various disabilities into the learning process.
There are applications such as the Near Sighted VR Augmented Aid which is designed to assist students with visual impairment. Just to mention a few, such applications can change the font sizes of text, contrast and even add audio commentary to the content being consumed.
AR Improves Teaching Skills
In a normal classroom setting, there is not enough time and resources for every student and teacher to have an individualized learning experience that is tailored to their needs. Additionally, in most cases, theoretical knowledge is barely enough to transfer proper skills in professional fields.
AR can be used to instruct learners on certain real-world skills that could not be acquired in a conventional classroom. For instance, some learners can be secluded in a safe environment and learn how to perform certain tasks, operate machinery or develop some skills all without ever leaving the classroom.
Furthermore, AR apps give teachers the tools to know what each of their student needs. This enables students to have individualized learning from anywhere and have remote access to information whenever they need it. It has also improved self-learning abilities in students since they can easily refer and look up information from their AR devices whenever they are away from their teachers.
Lastly, teamwork is important in education and AR technology encourages collaborative learning. Students can share information on a group project and also share the same visual exper
Education Apps for Augmented Reality
Augmented reality cannot be possible without the necessary applications that incorporate virtual elements into our real world. In education, these apps can be grouped into three broad categories: apps dedicated to students, AR apps for kids and AR apps for self-education. Let us take a brief look at each below:
AR Apps for Learners
AugThat – this application runs on both iOS and Android to bring AR directly into the classroom. It was designed by a teacher to help make learning more engaging and interactive. It utilizes 360-degree virtual photos and 3D experiences to immerse students into the learning environment.
Elements 4D – this app by DAQRI studio runs on either Android or iOS and is designed for learning chemistry. It allows students to combine various elements virtually to see how they would behave in real life. You can find lesson plans ideal for students in secondary or elementary schools on their website.
Anatomy 4D – this app for medical students can be run either on Android or iOS devices. This application allows students to scan printed targets and develop interactive 3D models of the human body. Users can then modify and adjust any body parts as they like and learn more about these parts.
AR Apps for Children
Math alive – this app uses a computer, a camera and specially printed cards to help kids in up to 3rd grade develop their counting skills. Pupils under the supervision of a teacher place the cards in front of a camera and the numbers turn to life.
Animal alphabet AR flashcards – this app is similar to Math alive, but for letters. When the child gets the answer correctly, the animal on the flashcard gets animated.
ZooKazam – this mobile application runs on both iOS and Android and teaches pupils everything about animals. Students can learn about various mammals, fish, birds, insects and reptiles via 3D models and numerous info-graphics.
Bugs 3D – this Android application helps kids to learn more concerning insects. It places quests and questions about insects as well as images that children can interact with.
AR apps for self-education
Google translate – this app from Google features an “AR mode” that allows users to study foreign languages in real time. You can check up words instantly without a dictionary in multiple languages. This app can come in handy for both students and tourists.
Star Walk, SkyORB 3D and Amazing Space Journey – these apps enable the user to study the skies. They use the camera, GPS and gyroscope in smartphones to locate the various constellations, galaxies, planets and moons. As you move your screen while pointing to the sky, different heavenly bodies will appear with useful information such as distance from the earth, size, etc.
Based on a study by Digi-Capital, an AR analytics and consulting company, mobile augmented reality is set to attain a billion users by 2021. Considering the increasing popularity of AR in education, a good portion of this user base will comprise of pupils, teachers and other stakeholders in the education industry.
Augmented reality has lots of benefits in education and these can be easily applied in our daily lives. AR’s best quality in learning is that it nurtures curiosity and motivates the learner to know more. This is the basic building block of any learning cycle and makes AR highly functional in education.
As seen above, it improves skills, spatial abilities, language and many more disciplines. AR could easily be the future of all learning environments where knowledge is easily accessible and applicable. This technology has made it possible to explore and perceive objects and subjects in a way that the traditional education systems could not and this is why we think it is the future of education. Who would have thought a technology meant to revolutionize gaming would do the same for education?