How to Use Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Instructor: Monica Gragg

Monica has taught college-level courses in Tourism, HR and Adult Education. She has a Master's in Education and is three years into a PhD.

We introduce the latest classroom technology, augmented reality and how it enhances learning. We provide examples and discuss how to use it in the classroom.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is where your real world is enhanced by a computer-generated sensory experience. It sounds complicated, I know. But here's an example that should illustrate it for you.

Let's say you're a science teacher and your students are learning about stars and constellations. Usually you would have students read some text, watch videos and try to memorize the star locations when they go home at night. What if students can point to the sky with the cameras on their phones (day or night) and their phone automatically identifies the stars and constellations? The phone may also provide 3D images, video, or audio. This is how augmented reality works. There should really be no surprise that it will be a $150 billion industry by the year 2020! By the way, the app from the earlier example actually exists: it's called Google Sky Map.

Before we continue, we should explain the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality. While they seem similar, augmented reality and virtual reality are two different concepts. Augmented reality blends the real world with the virtual world. Virtual reality, commonly known as virtual worlds or Second Life, is invented.


How it Engages Learners

Educators like augmented reality because it moves away from passive learning through reading and listening to active learning with interacting and creating. The student's learning experience is deepened by their engagement with learning materials and their own reality, even outside the classroom. Using the stars and constellation example again, think about how different the learning experience is between reading about the stars and watching videos to looking at the sky and consuming facts in a digital format.

How to Use in the Classroom

Now that you know how it engages students, you need to determine which form works for your subject area. There are two forms, location-aware and vision-based. Location-aware displays digital media to students as they move through a physical area. So, like the stars and constellation example, students are pointing or moving through a space and a video, 3D model, audio or text appears, providing information about that point of reference. With vision-based augmented reality, students point to a specific object such as a QR code or a 2D target and information appears.

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