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Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Adding a new dimension to learning by layering technology into everyday elements.

By Lani Aquino

The AR craze hit mainstream usage with apps like Pokémon GO as users of all ages set off in search of these digital creatures. What if teachers could instill that same fervor in a student’s quest for learning? By bringing augmented reality to the classroom, they can. As a teacher-created or student-created component to learning, AR adds a new dimension to the discovery of information, the level of engagement, and the ability to showcase learning.

Augmented reality layers digital elements within the real world. Unlike virtual reality where users are mentally transported to a new environment, AR meets them where they are and tweaks what’s available in their current physical locale. Think of AR as one of those interactive books or games where hovering over an object reveals a new discovery or tier of information, and then think of how adding those layers of engagement to education can impact learning.

Teachers Layering AR

Adding this excitement to learning is easier than one may think. There are an abundance of apps available that can bring AR to life, even for those that may not hold technology as a strong suit. As with any new strategy, there will be a learning curve, but that novice feel will be short-lived once creators and users dive in and start reaping the benefits of this tech addition. By pointing a smart device camera at an object recognized by the app, a new layer of learning can be revealed. Teachers can layer in instructions, safety guidelines for labs, links for information, formative assessment questions/activities, 3D models, and more.

The possibilities for aiding students with learning outside of the classroom are also increased with the use of AR. Layering tutorials, notes, and/or images into assignments can help both students and parents when stumbling blocks are incurred. Teachers can layer in a short video demonstrating how to solve the types of problems encountered on a math assignment, add a link to a skills review page or tutorial, direct students to an extension activity, etc. With AR, teachers can be in two or ten places at once because they can make the tools needed to get past a possible roadblock easily available.

Students Layering AR

AR in the classroom shouldn’t stop at teachers layering information; students can also be the creators of augmented reality. What a great way to get them excited about showcasing their learning! A book cover can be the trigger object to a student review of a recent read, via text or video. A poster or other two-dimensional visual aid can become an interactive display of additional information and/or narrated highlights. A reenactment of a novel’s scene or historical event can be created and layered into a classroom timeline that is on display. A response explaining the rationale for reaching a solution can be recorded as a problem is being solved and layered into an assessment. As a unique presentation medium, layering AR lets students experience content at a deeper level when they become the creators of the tools for learning.

Whether teacher or student designed, augmented reality can have a real impact on learning. With the download of an app and a little ingenuity, AR can be up and active in no time. The ability to engage students in the development and/or discovery of the interactive information adds a deeper layer to the takeaways that result from learning.

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