How can Augmented Reality enhance education?

Imagine a school where its classrooms were modeled after George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. Even if you weren’t the kind of kid who liked to go to school, I guarantee you’d at least like to attend a class based on “science fiction”.

Well, if for people of our generation certain advances in education could be something only seen in movies, for some children and adolescents today the reality may be different. We’re speaking of “some” because we understand that, unfortunately, the advances of technology in the sector cannot be used by all students for various reasons (socio-economic amongst them).

That said, some say that education has been through a major upheaval in recent years. Today we already have schools that have exchanged books for tablets, the traditional blackboard for digital and interactive slates, and whose learning approach is no longer tied to just reading or writting only. And to add a little “George Lucas”, we already have Augmented Reality being used in the education sector.

How does Augmented Reality work in education?

Augmented Reality (AR) superimposes digital elements to our surroundings through a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, the technology enhances our real surroundings.

Also as we have shown previously, AR is already enhancing several fronts, such as improving the customer experience, making retail more attractive, and grabbing the audience’s attention during product launches, like this experience that Signia produced for Motorola:

So, keep in mind that when we talk about Augmented Reality being used in education, the technology works the same way, that is, superimposing digital objects, virtual images, and physical spaces. As mobile devices are increasingly available (and in the hands of students), AR further increases the possibilities of its use for teaching.

Examples of use

Inside classrooms, the technology allows students to see the pyramids of Egypt, an erupting volcano, how a tsunami forms, or even analyze the layers of the Earth right in front of them. Medical students are able to study organs in detail thanks to 3D visualization, and when we talk about small children, augmented reality in early childhood education will help teachers overcome a major challenge: how to retain students’ attention for much longer.

Take a look at this project from Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand:

How about studying cells using a 3D model? Check out the video:

Why use Augmented Reality in education?

Using Augmented Reality in education can have many advantages, including;

  1. It facilitates the learning of complex concepts:  as good as a textbook might be, some concepts are difficult to describe, explain, and more importantly, understand. By viewing a 3D explanation, students are able to have a much deeper understanding of the subject.
  2. It gives teachers more flexibility: every teacher has their teaching methodology, just as each subject is taught in a different way. With Augmented Reality, educators can customize experiences and use technology to enhance their strategies. For example, when teaching a theory-heavy subject, teachers can use AR to strengthen their lessons, while in a more “hands-on” subject, it can be used to make students interact with examples.
  3. It pushes the boundaries of thephysical world: AR allows students to learn on a much larger scale because they can see things they wouldn’t normally see, such as a moving dinosaur (à la Steven Spielberg) or historical artifacts and ancient cities.
  4. Help memorization: human beings perceive their world through their senses. Therefore, it makes complete sense that sensory skills are the ones that are usually memorized first. For most students, it is much easier to memorize a subject that they have seen three-dimensionally than something printed in a book.
  5. It makes learning safe: safety is critical in education, and AR will allow students to complete dangerous procedures by practicing in a simulated reality (such as chemical experiments).

Furthermore, if you’re reading this article in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, have you ever thought about how augmented reality can improve online education? As you can see, the combination of teaching with technology is a good thing for those who teach and for those who are learning.

And more…

The advantages of Augmented Reality in education is not limited to just what we covered in this article. For example, think of the opportunities that technology brings to subjects such as geometry. By viewing 3D shapes, students can visually evaluate the size, shape, and relative position of objects.

With the explanation and examples we have given, and with what we see from other sectors, it is certain that there are no limits to human resourcefulness. Augmented Reality is just one way to bring education to a higher level of effectiveness and engagement around the world.

There are several success stories involving AR technology. The upward trend is clear and, just as we talk about other industry sectors that do not yet use AR, educational institutions that want to get ahead need to start seeing its potential. Undoubtedly, with this technology, learning becomes even easier and obviously, fun.

Wrapping up, keep in mind that the use of Augmented Reality in education contributes to:

  1. Getting students more involved and motivated;
  2. Teach important skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking;
  3. Enhance learning for kinesthetic and visual students;
  4. Make students learn by creating, which contributes to the learning of cause-effect relationships.
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