Augmented reality tools for education
As technology advances, those in education are seeing new and innovative ways of teaching emerge. Gone are chalk and whiteboards in replacement of smartboards. Things have really changed in the last ten years. Educators have started to use augmented reality as a means of developing their educational toolset.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) is a mix of the real-world and a computer-generated (augmented) version which changes the users’ experience of reality. AR does this by using the real world as a background and layering a digital element that interacts with it. The user can interact with this layer in many ways; be it a filter for your face or information about a closeby venue. Really, the possibilities are endless.
AR programs utilise different devices from your smartphone and tablet to glasses and helmets. Remember, AR differs from virtual reality in that VR fully-immerses the user in a whole new reality. Whereas AR adds a virtual element to reality.
The most popular examples of AR at the moment are used on apps like TikTok and Snapchat. You can impose filters onto your own image or videos. Pokemon Go is another great example.
AR In Education
As AR advances, educational institutions have picked up on this and have started using the technology in their classrooms. Some teachers have begun using AR apps that bring textbooks to life and interactive study cards for a more engaging experience for their students.
Some use AR to enhance homework, by using quizzes and puzzles. Others have more complex uses, like interaction with 3D models of animals, humans and plants. This gives students a practical way of learning about the chosen topic. They can have a real grasp of what they’re dissecting or the chemicals they’re experimenting with without any exposure risks.
Second, it’s being used in more places than the classroom. You’ll find it in other educational settings. In organisations to train new employees and even in the military. AR is used by the US Army in a program called STE (synthetic training environment) where soldiers are prepared for combat. Using the STE allows the individual to get an idea of a real-world situation that is realistic but not life-threatening.
Finally, AR in education also covers use in museums and other historical teachings. AR gives audiences an interesting and engaging experience. It teaches them about places and people. Companies have developed games where students become detectives in their environment. They can explore the environmental impact of industries.
Benefits of AR in Education
Experts have produced many case studies on the real-life applications of AR and there seem to be a number of benefits.
Students are more interested. Studies have proven that use of AR helps student engagement. Use of 3D models has been particularly successful. A student may become tired of looking at textbooks for things like geography and evolution, but using 3D models quite literally brings the topic to life. Imagine a dinosaur walking into your classroom! Studies have shown that use of AR makes students more likely to show up to class and participate.
Personalisation has helped with specific student needs. Those who find textbook learning difficult are better attributed to learning the material in a different way. AR in classrooms allows students to have a personalised learning experience. This also encourages students to interact with the content. Augmented Reality Tutorial for Beginners – READ MORE
Ar helps break down complex topics. Students might struggle to understand how the earth moves on its axis because they cannot visualise it. AR provides students with accurate visuals. This clears up any misunderstanding.
It also helps to create a learning community. Students can connect to one another and study in groups. With assistance from AR apps, students can get through these complex topics together. This is great for long-distance learning where connection and support is often lacking.
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Augmented Reality Tools for Education:
Disadvantages of AR in Education
- The cost of AR is high. AR tech has developed so greatly over the past few years that it’s still expensive to develop and maintain. Companies are making huge investments in devices that optimise AR experiences.
- Once these are in operation, it doesn’t end there. Maintenance and updating of these programs is perpetual. Schools and museums often struggle with funding and they’re likely to have difficulty with the cost of new technology like this.
- New tech often comes with bugs; it’s a natural part of creating something new. Educators and the like will have to put up with a buggy experience until the developers have worked the kinks out.
- AR tech is also reliant on physical markers. Most AR apps need an element of the users’ physical surrounding to layer the digital onto. AR programs, therefore, need some prior knowledge of the environment to work efficiently. This limits its use in education. In particular, long-distance learning. Think about multiple students who would need to tether to the program in their own physical space.
10 great educational AR apps
Users build and share scenes with 3D models. These get saved in the object library or downloaded from the Thingiverse. 3D Bear teachers can build and assign lessons through an online dashboard for students. They use the app to build their own scenes. It comes with preloaded lesson plans on a host of topics.
CATCHY WORDS EDU:
Teachers of younger students can enjoy this free word game. It combines movement and learning.
In Catchy Words AR, students can walk around to ‘catch’ letters using their devices as well as solving word puzzles.
CoSpaces is a design tool for students with coding experience. It allows them to build virtual 3D worlds, tell stories via exhibits and tours and infographics. 360-degree photos and images can be uploaded and enjoyed using the companion app. Teachers can upload and assign lessons, too.
This is a biology-based app that lets students explore the anatomy and lifecycle of a frog. Visit froggipedia
Every ‘jig’ is a 3D representation of how everyday stuff works. They’re outlined in simple terms and seen visually via AR. JigSpace students can inspect the human heart or the solar system from all kinds of angles.
This allows students to interact with a hologram. The cube has unique designs on every side. When held in front of the camera of a given device, it will transform into a 3D object or project a scene. These can be seen from different angles if you rotate the cube. Teachers can use this to demonstrate complex systems. MERGE Cube students can experience science and history.
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This is for pre-teens of 13 and up. It’s a free app and website let you build and share interactive AR content. Use the tools in Metaverse to gamify lessons and assignments. Students can access the app and enjoy things like scavenger hunts or other location-based games around the world.
Moatboat utilises both AR and VR. The user can give a simple command and add objects which can then be given behaviours.
Users can place their creation on a table for others to see.
Orb is for tech-savvy teens. Students can add 3D objects to their real-world (or so it seems by looking at it). Users can apply bespoke shapes and colours, rotate and combine them. The final product can be downloaded, shared or exported to a 3D printer.
This lets students paint the world they see in front of them. Paintings are made in the app and, for art students, remain anonymous. Teachers can assign a virtual drawing in World Brush to a student based on real-life anchors to their physical location like their school campus.
Augmented Reality Tools for Education: Concluding Thoughts
It’s undeniable that using AR for educational purposes has a number of advantages. There are some drawbacks in the cost and maintenance of such programs. Things like potential teething problems of new technology. Similarly, VR has the potential to create a big impact on learning and this comes with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. You cannot deny, though, that tech is paving the way for advanced learning for kids of all ages.
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