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.
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.
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.
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.
An AOPS favorite, this app allows students to access video tutorials right from their textbooks — or create interactive stories with alternate endings. It links graphics, videos, and audio to everyday objects around the classroom.
This app puts the power of the periodic table in the palms of students' hands. Elements can be inspected, rotated, and even combined to create new compounds and chemical reactions in real time.
Students color in a seemingly typical normal diagram of animal cell — then this fun app brings it to life. Creations pop off the page in 3D as they move, make sounds, and respond to commands.
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.
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.