(Photo: Pixels user Daniel Frank)
Education is one of the key organisations that are being disrupted by technology and digitalisation. Today, school and university students no longer want to only learn by reading books and copying texts. No, they want the power of technology to be used in their classroom. Many young people have smartphones, and it seems evident that utilising this technology can help to educate. The education technology industry (so-called EdTech) is set to reach $252 billion by 2020, growing at a 17% annual rate. The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) reports “augmented reality has the potential to revolutionise learning in primary and secondary schools more than any other technology has done in the recent past”.
Despite the rising use of augmented reality (AR) in many areas of the modern era, AR in education is still new and unsettled. Before we dive deeper into the specifics of augmented reality use in schools, let’s recall what augmented reality is. From its name, we can conclude that the technology “augments” the real world around us. It does this by overlaying virtual objects over the real image, most often on our smartphone screen. The NJIT states “Several studies published in the last four years have shown that it enhances learning and classroom interactions.”
Augmented reality is the integration of digital information within the user’s environment in real time. Despite a common misbelief, AR technologies offer so much more than chasing Pokémon around town. Pokémon Go, released on July 6, 2016, quickly shot to the top of Apple’s App Store Charts, setting a new record as the app with the most downloads in its first week (an estimated 15 million). Pokémon Go has inspired many educators in the potential of AR technologies. Here are some outstanding examples of how augmented reality can be used in today’s education.
Augmented reality allows information to be added to objects on the screen. This feature is widely used in tourist applications where historical information appears when the camera points to a historic building or place of interest. However, all museums and landmarks may not support this due to space or budget limitations. Once AR becomes more widely available, teachers can then augment their field trips to add layers of learning and interaction to the day’s activity.
Also, with the help of object or text recognition, the application can display the supplementary information on the screen next to the object. For example, if you point the camera at an apple, you can see the nutritional information. By doing this, the app, on the one hand, reduces the time to find the object’s description and other information, and, on the other hand, creates a stronger link between the object image and its data. Therefore, information is available faster and retained longer.
Google Translate already uses augmented reality to provide instant translations of any text to which the smartphone camera is pointing. It’s great for studying over 30 foreign languages. By using Google Translate’s particular “AR mode” you can focus on an international restaurant menu or a road sign and quickly see the text in English.
Today, you hardly ever see a school pupil without a smartphone. With university students, the number of mobile users is even higher, as young people use smartphones for almost everything. Many schools try to ban smartphones for the distraction they can create. Such bans are mostly futile as too much of a modern child’s life is now connected to a smartphone.
As often happens, the ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ strategy works in this case. Instead of trying to part students from their phones, teachers can supplement their lessons using their devices.
Augmented reality provides new ways of learning; teachers get to catch the attention of students and motivate them better, while students get new tools to visualise their subjects and complex concepts as well as obtain practical skills. Moreover, even parents can benefit by engaging their children in studying with playful apps.
AR has been mostly applied in higher education settings, however, target groups like early childhood have the potential to explore the use of AR to help to motivate their students. Eric Carle’s widely-loved book, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, is brought to life in the real world in AR. The beauty of this magical children’s AR experience lies in its simple and intuitive interaction. Kids who are already familiar with who the Very Hungry Caterpillar is will get to enjoy a completely new experience. At the same time, adults who grew up on it can recollect some of those beautiful childhood memories. In short, it’s an interactive app that parents will enjoy playing with their children.
The game is designed primarily for kids, therefore the interactions are straightforward and intuitive. My Very Hungry Caterpillar AR was made to help develop nurturing skills and encourage a love of nature. Children are playing in the digital world while still being connected to the real world. While AR is primarily focused in the gaming industry (at the moment) according to Juniper Research, statistics show that consumers value AR products 33% higher than non-augmented reality products and that students are naturally entranced by how AR can change the world around them.
Augmented reality can provide highly interactive learning experiences providing the developer has taken this into account and created an app that is not just an inanimate model on a screen. Many augmented reality creators talk about bringing content to life in AR, and it is possible to bring learning to life, allowing students to interact with virtual content with a more significant deal of autonomy than is afforded them by text, images or even video content.
Augmented reality in education will soon affect the conventional learning process. Designed with educators in mind, Quiver is the world-leading augmented reality specialist with a focus on cutting-edge colour technology. Quiver is a free, three-dimensional colouring app on both the App Store and Google Play providing high quality and engaging experiences for all ages with a memorable slogan ‘Print, Colour, Play’. You can tap the image to interact with the object or character, zoom into your drawing or view it from a different angle. You can even play and pause the animation and share photos or videos of your creations. Educational colouring pages also include a quiz on the object topic to test your students’ knowledge.
Too often we feel detached from learning. We study the body in school but only in a textbook, on a screen, or with a solid model. A simple but compelling AR concept can take things a step further and deepen a student’s knowledge. The VirtualiTee from Curiscope is a t-shirt for adults and kids that can be used with an app to ‘look inside’ the wearer using augmented reality and learn about the human body.
Moving around the wearer allows the user to look at organs in detail and tapping points of interest brings up more information on the device’s screen. With this X-ray vision-like view into the body, the VirtualiTee application can teach facts about anatomy and transform smartphones and tablets into “immersive virtual reality educational adventures” remarks Ed Barton CEO of Curiscope. The application’s sense of interaction has a significant positive impact on students. It keeps them engaged throughout the lesson and makes learning fun and effortless.
In addition to higher engagement, interactive AR apps can give students the feeling of freedom and control over their learning process. Students can access models on their own devices via apps. Fieldbit provides a real-time AR collaboration tool for end-to-end communication allowing your support engineer to guide users through their problems without expensive visits. By viewing augmented models, the students can gain a better understanding of the concepts they are studying. Fieldbits platform enables enterprises to create, capture, and share knowledge across the entire organisation.
Currently, field technicians often rely on smartphones to view information. Fieldbit, collaborating with AR glasses, allows field technicians to work hands-free and interact with digital content most realistically through sophisticated scene awareness. Augmented reality has the power to transform our educational systems while helping a new generation of students learn more effectively. Interactive lessons, where all students are involved in the learning process at the same time, can in turn help improve teamwork skills.
A growing number of educators are prioritising learning that encourages problem-solving, collaboration and creation to better prepare students for the future. When helping students learn technical and critical thinking skills, AR can provide new opportunities for students to learn how to communicate and collaborate with one another, potentially using the same technologies that might be used in the workforce of tomorrow.
Augmented reality is changing the role teachers play in the classroom and helping them significantly enhance the learning process for their students.
“Augmented reality can transform how students learn about and connect with the world around them. Turn your classroom into the cosmos. Make a history lesson as vivid as the present by restoring ancient artefacts.” -Apple Education
Augmented reality, unlike VR, does not block out your natural surrounding, but rather, overlays it with digital projections. It can render objects that are hard to imagine and turns them into 3D models in and out of classrooms, making it easier for visual learners. This bridging of physical and digital experiences opens up limitless opportunities as students and teachers are no longer confined to the information available on paper or a screen, a whole world of digital data can be made available alongside it.
To conclude, AR applications may increase both uses of information and the access to knowledge, improving digital and info-inclusion. Augmented reality apps should be interactive, intuitive, and user-friendly. Introducing augmented reality to your students will enable them to discover hidden passions and inspire their future endeavours.