Augmented reality is one of the most exciting educational technologies to reach our classrooms. As educators look for different ways to connect with and engage students, more and more are beginning to see the potential of using AR for education.
It’s little wonder that augmented reality in education is the next big thing. AR technology allows educators to bring concepts, projects and lessons to life in a fun, interactive and cost-effective way. When paired with educational AR apps and games, the technology is revolutionising the way that we teach and learn.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality, often abbreviated to ‘AR’, refers to a set of technologies that can be used to overlay sounds and visuals onto the physical world.
Augmented reality is often confused with virtual reality, but the two technologies are, in fact, different. Virtual reality refers to computer-generated environments that you can immerse yourself in, while augmented reality is used to enhance the real world you see around you.
Users of virtual reality usually wear a headset to enter and interact with a cyber world, while users of augmented reality might use their phone or tablet to see images that have been superimposed onto the real world.
Augmented reality in teaching
Augmented reality is a growing trend in many industries – it’s commonly used in marketing, for collecting consumer data, and is popular in gaming. You’ll likely remember the popularity of Pokemon Go, one of the first games to use AR technology. The game, which enabled players to find and capture virtual Pokemon characters in real-world locations, was a huge success with secondary and tertiary-aged students. It was this success that quickly led educators to recognise AR’s potential in the classroom.
Now, with applications across primary, secondary and tertiary education, augmented reality in schools is becoming more and more popular. From STEM to theatre, educators are discovering new and novel ways to use AR in schools.
The benefits of augmented reality in education
There are many benefits of augmented reality. Here are 10 reasons you might consider using augmented reality in the classroom.
1. You don’t need any special equipment
While virtual reality requires expensive headsets and hardware, most smartphones today now include the hardware you need to experience augmented reality. This makes setting up an AR experience in the classroom simple. You’ll just need an internet connection, an AR app (we’ve listed some of our top picks below), a mobile device, and “AR markers” placed around the room, such as images or locations that will trigger an action on the device screen.
2. It’s cost-effective
And because you don’t need any special equipment beyond a smartphone, it’s a cost-effective way to enhance your lessons. Most students already own a smartphone or tablet, so there’s usually no need to invest in expensive equipment or materials.
3. It’s engaging
AR adds novelty and excitement to the classroom. Not only can it help educators capture and hold the attention of their students, but it gives students the opportunity to get up from their desks and interact with the course content.
Using AR technology, educators can create interactive games, lessons and projects. Fun and novel games can break up the day-to-day routine in the classroom, helping students stay engaged and involved.
4. It helps with retention
A natural by-product of higher engagement, AR learning can also help students better retain information. Fun, interactive games have the potential to be much more memorable than a lecture, reading, or slideshow, making it easier for students to remember key information and details.
5. It encourages collaboration
Many augmented reality apps and games require students to work together to achieve a common goal. These kinds of AR games encourage students to get up and interact not only with the augmented world around them, but also with other students. Games like this are great for building interpersonal and team-working skills.
6. It’s an immersive learning experience
AR teaching enables educators to bring concepts to life and allows students to fully immerse themselves in the subject matter. Rather than read from a textbook or listen to a lecture, students can use AR to see, hear and experience the content being presented to them.
Being able to engage with material in a range of different ways benefits students with different learning styles and preferences.
7. It’s great for practical exercises
AR can help students practice and master real-world practical skills, such as learning an instrument, building a structure, or conducting a medical procedure. What’s more, these skills can be learned in a safe and cost-effective environment. For example, you don’t need expensive equipment or materials to visualise and practice open-heart surgery in an AR environment, nor do you need a real patient.
8. It helps educators convey complex information
Augmented reality can help educators communicate complex subjects. AR is a multi-sensory experience, incorporating audio and visual stimuli. The brain processes images much faster than text, which means students can grasp and comprehend concepts more readily by seeing them in the real world, rather than by reading about them. AR can overlay images, graphs and charts onto the physical world to help students learn complex topics in a simpler format.
9. It has many different applications
There’s no limit to the applications of augmented reality in education. From primary education right through to tertiary and higher education, AR is a powerful teaching tool. Kindergarten students may benefit from using fun AR games for play-based learning, while older students can use the technology to help them learn more complex theoretical concepts or practical skills.
AR can also be used across almost any subject or discipline. AR can help students visualise and understand maths problems, conduct science experiments, or visit historical sites. There’s a wealth of educational AR apps and games on the market, designed for everything from maths and science to art, design and theatre.
9. It can be used for gamification
Studies have shown that gamification of course content can improve motivation and engagement and lead to better learning outcomes. One advantage of using AR is the opportunity to incorporate games into your lessons, which is a great way to inject excitement into the classroom.
10. AR apps for education are abundant
And if you’re interested in gamifying your lessons, it’s easy to find AR apps and games online. AR apps and AR experiences are easy to set up because there are already so many augmented reality apps for education and augmented reality projects for students on the market. Here are some of our top choices for education augmented reality apps.
For science and biology
Chem101 AR is an interactive AR app that uses video and animation to help chemistry and STEM students better understand complex compounds and chemicals. Using the app, students can virtually conduct lab experiments.
VR Frog Dissection: Ribbit-ing Discoveries allows students to dissect virtual frogs to study their anatomy. Alternatively, Human Anatomy Atlas provides opportunities for virtual dissections of humans.
For astronomy fans, Star Walk users can point their devices to the night sky to find and learn about constellations and stars.
Merge Cube and Photomath can be used to help students understand mathematical concepts. These apps use visualisations, animation and interactive 3D models to bring numbers to life. Students can walk through mathematical problems and visualise calculations as they go.
360Cities is a history-based AR app that enables students to learn about different historical sites around the globe. At museums and historical sites, students can use their smartphones to access additional information about the pieces on display.
Catchy Words AR is a simple AR app that helps students with English and spelling skills. The fun game allows users to solve word-based puzzles by moving around the room and “catching” letters.
For art and creativity
WorldBrush helps students hone creative skills by allowing them to virtually paint and draw on the walls around them. Students can choose from a range of different paint colours and brush types to create their masterpieces.
Getting the most out of augmented reality for schools
We’re big proponents of using technology, such as AR, in schools to enhance teaching and learning.
Promethean’s ActivePanel Interactive Display pairs seamlessly with smartphones, tablets, and AR apps to help educators create and present more engaging lessons. Leveraging the ActivePanel’s screen mirroring function and the many AR apps available online, educators can bring lessons to life by displaying augmented reality on their front of class technology.