Augmented reality is gradually reaching many areas of our lives. Without a doubt, one of the sectors in which it is most useful is in education, since it can be a powerful learning tool. However, how to apply augmented reality in education? What are the advantages that it offers teachers and students?
Augmented reality can be defined as that technology that allows adding virtual elements to a real image that is visualized through an electronic device. For this, markers or codes are usually used so that, when focused on an adapted device, it projects a virtual image onto a real image, thus creating a transformed reality. Augmented reality in education is part of what are called emerging pedagogies.
These teaching techniques are defined as those pedagogical ideas that arise around Information Technologies and that propose new educational approaches based on collaboration, interaction, creativity and innovation. The objective of augmented reality in education is to build environments with a high degree of participation and interactivity, in which the student is able to build, design, modify, experiment and become much more actively involved in the learning process.
In this sense, we can highlight its ability to create what are called interactive or virtual classrooms, which provide a greater immersion for students and enhance their interest in the subject.
How can augmented reality and education be integrated?
Augmented reality is a relatively young technology. It has been used in the educational field for years, but there is no doubt that its implementation is still scarce. There is still a long way to go to take advantage of this technology in the classroom, but there are already numerous ways to integrate augmented reality in education.
One of the most common ways to integrate augmented reality in education is through bookmarks in textbooks. QR codes are usually used which, when focused on the mobile phone, offer hyperlinks to other complementary information.
For example, imagine creating a marker on a world map where, depending on the continent you focus on, extra information will be offered about that part of the planet. Geography classes would be much more enjoyable and productive!
This technology is also capable of enhancing the abilities of students, offering additional information. As an example we have the Historypin application, which uses geolocation to show historical images of certain points of interest, giving a new dimension to the history subject.
Improving classroom experiences
Thanks to augmented reality, the teaching hours stop just sitting at the desk and listening to the teacher. They now offer an immersive experience that encourages interest and participation, for example by viewing and modelling 3D figures. This is the case of the HDM or Human Dissection Models project, which allows visualizing and studying parts of the human body through virtual 3D images.
This can be applied at any level. Nursery, preschool, primary, secondary, vocational training, university studies … All these levels can take advantage of the advantages offered by RA. But how can you use the use of augmented reality in education?
Augmented reality in infant and primary education
Children are more easily impressed by stimuli but, in turn, they are also more accustomed to new technologies. Today’s children know perfectly how a mobile phone, a tablet or a computer works. And you will surely be fascinated by augmented reality.
This technology is capable of capturing students’ attention much more effectively. It achieves this thanks to the surprise factor of creating interactive environments that promote experimentation-focused learning.
An example of how augmented reality can be applied in infant and primary education is the Quivervision application. It allows to colour drawings, something we have all done as children. The surprise comes when that drawing comes to life and literally “comes out” of the paper to become a 3D figure.
Augmented reality can be applied even in the smallest, from the same nursery. An example is the 3DUPlay interactive rugs, which allow children to move to the city, the zoo or the time of the dinosaurs to learn while they live hundreds of adventures in augmented reality.
Augmented reality in high school and higher university studies
Augmented reality for science subjects like mathematics, biology, physics or chemistry can be a very useful tool on a practical level. For example, imagine a biology class in which cells can be visualized through markers placed on images or text.
For its part, augmented reality in subjects such as history, linguistic or geography is oriented towards a more theoretical application, offering extra information about the authors, places, monuments or historical events. For example, a bookmark on a literary work that offers extra information and images of its author.
An example is MIT -Massachusetts Institute of Technology- which designed several outdoor augmented reality applications such as Environmental Detectives, which encourages students to investigate their environment. Based on the concept of gamification, they have also developed other indoor augmented reality experiences, such as Mystery in the Museum.
Advantages of using augmented reality in education
- It offers a more emotional and immersive experience, which attracts the interest of students.
- Thanks to this immersive and interactive experience, it facilitates the learning and transmission of concepts.
- It increases the motivation of the students, making the classes more enjoyable and interesting.
- Encourage participation thanks to interactivity.
- Break the traditional monotony of classes thanks to the use of technology, offering incentives to learn.
- It allows students to exploit the subjects and their closest reality from another perspective.
- It prepares students for the digital age.
Disadvantages of using augmented reality in education
- Students may fall into a ‘lazy learning stage’. It consists of leaving aside the learning and assimilation of concepts in pursuit of the solutions provided by technology.
- Augmented reality is usually considered as a recreational element, so it is necessary to know how to guide it towards the educational field, not just recreation.
- It can be a challenge for teachers, who must adapt and train in new methods of emerging pedagogy.
- Specific teaching material and devices adapted to augmented reality are required.
- It can be expensive to implement and some schools may not have the necessary budget and depend on subsidies being put in place.
To conclude, augmented reality in the education sector is a resource that offers many possibilities but still has a long way to go when it comes to future developments.
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Dean at Woxsen School of Business. He is a registered expert in Artificial intelligence, Intelligent Systems, Multi-agent Systems at the European Commission, and has been nominated for the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe 2020 list.