5 Ways to Use Augmented Reality in the Classroom

AR can boost student engagement and help lessons be more memorable.

For many educators, advanced educational options like those offered by full VR are still beyond their capabilities. But Augmented Reality (AR) is a much more accessible technology that educators can begin to implement more effectively in the classroom.

You may not be familiar with AR technology in the classroom, but you may recognize it in other contexts such as Pokémon Go. Augmented Reality uses readily available mobile technology on a phone or tablet to provide additional information about the surrounding environment. It then displays that information dynamically on a user’s screen.

Genearlly, AR-based tools break down into two general types: marker-based, and location-based. The classroom applications available to you will vary based on which you use. Let’s take a closer look.

Marker-based uses:

Marker-based AR applications are ones that can recognize or scan an object using the phone’s camera. For instance, they may scan a QR code, or they may identify features on a model or manikin. They are then able to display additional information on a screen that provides learners with a richer context for their learning environment.

Marker-based AR has many applications. Here are just a few.

1. Enhanced model training.

Imagine your learners are studying human anatomy, and their classroom comes equipped with a manikin. They use their phones or tablets to scan the model, and the screen displays information about the bones, muscles, organs, and connective tissue.

Similarly, you may have a piece of important equipment that you want to train your learners to operate. The equipment includes many moving parts, and explaining each of them to your learners can consume a lot of time from the instructor. Instead, your AR tool helps your learners not only identify the parts, but move them around and manipulate them. As they interact with the device, your AR tool can give your learners feedback, telling them if they’re using the tool correctly.

2. Safety and compliance lessons.

What if you could use AR to help your learners identify safety and compliance concerns in a new environment? For instance, chemistry labs, industrial kitchens, and manufacturing floors are all areas where learners could be at risk of injury if they make a mistake. When they are first introduced to this environment, you could use AR tagging to draw attention to danger zones, and also to places where learners can go in case of an accident or emergency.

By walking through the environment, finding and scanning different tags, and reading the information provided by your system, learners will have stronger memories to connect with the information they have learned. When working with dangerous equipment or faced with a situation that demands quick thinking, they will react more quickly based on their practical learning.

3. Advanced homework assignments.

Take-home assignments can often feel like dull busywork for learners. However, what if you could help them connect the assignment to their environment? You could ask learners to scan objects to learn more information about them, or even have them input information themselves.

AR-based homework assignments can be tricky to design. However, the user interaction often makes them more memorable—and therefore more rewarding—for learners. As such, the possibilities are worth exploration.

Location-based uses:

The other main type of AR content uses GPS technology to provide information based on a user’s location. While marker-based technology is flexible and portable, location-based necessarily provides a more physical connection to an environment. The possibilities opened by this technology are substantially different from those offered by marker-based AR. Here’s a couple options.

4. Gamified scavenger hunts.

Pokémon Go is easily the most famous application of geolocation AR. As game that brought a virtual environment to the physical world, it was truly revolutionary for many users. It’s no wonder that this kind of AR is achieving wider acceptance in the eLearning environment.

For instance, this type of AR is finding more applications among guided tours. Museums, or even cities, use the location data on a user’s cell phone to notify them about important information when they’re near an exhibit or famous site. This could readily be gamified for learners. Using location data, instructors could set up a variety of location-based activities to aid learning.

4. Augmented campus and workplace tours.

Orientation is a big use for AR technology, from large organizations to universities. Not only does it help new hires and students feel at home in their new environment, it also helps the learner explore their new location and learn more about what it hast to offer.

Most official orientation tours only go so far. AR can bridge the gap by offering a tailored experience that matches user needs. And it can do so without draining human resources, or leaving learners feeling as though they were left at sea.

Put your learners in charge of the course creation process.

Many of the examples we’ve provided rely on instructors to carefully design courses that include these elements. But why not put the learner in the driver’s seat when it comes to AR input? What if learners could add course content by scanning and tagging items in the real world? The material they add to a course could include either marker-based or location-based information. After all, this is similar to what Google does when it identifies a user’s location at a restaurant and asks them to add reviews and images.

When you think of AR in that way, you may realize that you’ve already participated in an AR project without realizing it. With the technology already a part of daily life, it’s no stretch to envision it part of eLearning.

Author

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

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