Explore AOPS

How Augmented Reality Is Transforming the Way We See Classrooms

5 years ago
Original Image
Modified Image

Seeing Beyond Real Life

It wasn't long ago that augmented reality seemed like the stuff of sci-fi movies. But thanks to devices and apps like Google Glass, Snapchat filters, and Pokémon Go, AR has already begun to impact our day-to-day lives.

As this technology has grown in power and popularity, educators and developers have created exciting ways to use AR in the classroom. These tools allow students to actively engage with lesson concepts, visualize shapes in 3D, and even create their own interactive projects, opening an entire new world of educational opportunities.

And as this emerging trend becomes more common in classroom settings, many experts predict that AR will revolutionize the way students learn in K-12 schools and higher education.

What is Augmented Reality?

AR is a live view of the real world overlaid with computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, or graphics. In other words, viewers see real life topped with a digital overlay. If you've ever watched a televised football game with a digitally inserted first down line, you've seen AR in action.

What's The Difference Between AR and VR?

Augmented reality and virtual reality both alter our perceptions of our surroundings. The difference is the degree to which our environments are stimulated.

Virtual reality is fully immersive and interactive, providing a completely computer-simulated environment.

Augmented reality layers computer-simulated enhancements over existing reality, blending digital elements with the real world.

Bringing Lessons to Life

Classroom AR fosters intellectual curiosity. By giving students and teachers access to new experiences and information, they can interact with their lessons and content in new ways.

Traditionally, learning has involved translating concepts from two-dimensional books and diagrams into the three dimensions of real life. AR removes that step, allowing users to view, rotate, and explore ideas without the risk of hazardous experiments or excursions.

This interactivity reinforces students' connections with the materials, their classmates, and their surroundings. Many apps also encourage collaboration between students, fostering teamwork and social learning.

As with any new technology, AR can have its share of hiccups, ranging from costly hardware to issues with functionality. Some students may also have difficulty managing so much extra information. However, these issues are likely to get ironed out as AR technology becomes more widespread and accessible.

By staying informed on these latest developments, we can ensure a healthy balance of new approaches and proven techniques that better prepare students for the future.

Growing Across Subjects and Grades

AR technology is most commonly used for science-based subjects, such as biology and anatomy, as well as geography and art. However, it is increasingly being used in a wider range of activities and assignments.

Here's a quick list of potential AR applications for classes ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade.

Pre-K to 3rd Grade

Teacher-Guided Content

  • Homework help — Selected images can trigger video tutorials with helpful tips.
  • Educational gameplay — Timed math challenges can make lessons more engaging.
  • Improving literacy — Teachers can reinforce reading and spelling skills with flash cards that come to life.

4th Grade to 12th Grade

Student-Created Content

  • Book reports — Students can animate synopses and bios with audio and video.
  • Classroom safety — Triggers placed around the room can demonstrate various aspects of lab safety.
  • Open house visits — Guests can explore interactive displays and tours.

Augmented Reality: Just Another Passing Fad?

Trendy as AR might be, it's unfair to write it off as the latest tech craze. It has already fundamentally changed the way many people interact with media, games, and even cars.

Incorporating AR into the classroom builds familiarity with technology that will continually impact entire industries and job markets. More importantly, AR can push our schools forward, enabling students to learn, create, and share concepts in meaningful ways.

Aaron W. Heintz is a Technology Integration Coach at Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools. Follow Aaron and the rest of the AoP Tech team on Twitter at @AOPTech to see AR in action at our schools.