AR is growing in terms of its development possibilities and uses, public awareness, and support from some big players.
The tech, which has been popularised by apps such as Pokémon GO expertly overlays digital information onto the viewer’s physical environment; giving an enhanced and ‘real’ experience in a virtual world. It’s very different to the synthetic Virtual Reality experience as AR can encompass all of the user’s senses.
There is still a way to go, as investment needs to be continually forthcoming. For that reason, mass adoption is likely to take a few more years. However, with recent development launches from Apple, Google and Facebook, accessibility is growing. And with this growth, the use of AR in the classroom is fast becoming the ‘norm’.
The seamless move from gimmick to education
Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, and Snapchat Lens Studio allow developers to create their own augmented reality apps for an increasingly hungry market. And education is one such market with huge potential in advancements.
We currently have access to what some may call ‘slightly gimmicky’ tools such as virtual tape measures on our phones and the popular and fun photo-altering filters. But with augmented reality tech found in most smartphones, developers have a ready and willing audience with which to engage and educate.
So what’s the downside to AR?
One of the ways in which VR outshines AR is that for AR, consumers need to view the added graphics through a screen, which can detract from being in the here and now (which is what makes the experience more lifelike).
However, as with any perceived issue, work is ongoing to rectify and improve the user experience. One such project is the development of smart contact lenses, currently in development with the tech team at Google. These are anticipated to allow users to diagnose low blood sugar!
Augmented Reality in the classroom
AR is generally easy to use as it’s usually just a case of aiming at a target and observing the screen. Therefore, it serves as a definite plus in education.
Most schools have access to at least some mobile technology, and if these devices can be centrally managed by mobile device management (MDM), AR apps can be utilised simultaneously to large groups of students.
Overall, AR is relatively inexpensive to implement in a classroom. No additional hardware is necessary as most applications run on the mobile devices currently available within the education system.
The majority of AR apps for educational purposes are either free, invoke a one-time purchase, or are heavily discounted.
Therefore, education boards and governing bodies can access great learning tools without a massive impact on budgets.
Simplicity is key for integration into a busy classroom timetable
Another huge plus for AR in educational use is the ability to implement easily, even if new to technology. It’s as accessible by staff as it is to students. And as importantly, it integrates into the normal flow of a lesson, it doesn’t dominate or distract to disrupt the natural flow of a lesson.
AR resources can also be accessed as easily from an individual desk as it can in a larger group or space. The content can be managed on screen using touch or trigger markers and content can be viewed from all angles, allowing students to fully engage in the learning process.
An AR system combines real world objects with virtual objects or superimposed information. The result is that virtual objects appear to coexist in the real world space. And it’s not restricted to just sight – AR can be applied to all our senses.
So is AR effective in our education system?
Any teacher will tell you they know at a glance if a student is actively learning or completely disengaged. If delivered and received positively, knowledge is a powerful experience, with the impact remaining throughout our lives. So yes, pretty important to get it right!
Now, with access to AR technology, the fun side of learning can be embraced. New worlds, previously only accessed via the pages of a book can be experienced as if actually there.
How incredible to be able to explore the NASA space station from your classroom. How could a child not remember an experience such as that?
Engaged students are likely to be more motivated and therefore develop a deeper understanding of the subject. So it follows that with well designed, educational content, AR has the credentials to feed the next generation’s hunger to learn.