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Augmented Reality: See the Unseen

by Eddie Rayner

Augmented reality (AR) can essentially be integrated into any curriculum area. Whether viewing geographical models, historical artefacts, complex molecules, or works of art, AR can allow students to engage and integrate with learning content in a way that is not possible with traditional forms of media such as images or videos.

There are a variety of skills that students and teachers can develop from this integration. These, of course, are dependent on the pedagogy being used to harness the AR content. I often stress that AR in classrooms needs to be ‘more than a model’ – in other words if a teacher is just letting students look at 3D models in AR without careful framing, the benefit to learning is somewhat limited.

Like all forms of education technology, AR needs to be integrated carefully and with the focus kept squarely on the pedagogy. Otherwise it is in danger of being little more than a ‘gimmick’. If harnessed well, AR can allow students to refine the way that they appreciate and understand concepts that would be abstract when taught using 2D tools.

AR, for instance, is great for learning about 3D shapes in maths, as it allows students to interact with a wide range of virtual polygons and manipulate them freely. This is especially useful if schools have limited supplies of physical shapes to use in classrooms.

In science, the possibilities are even greater. Not only can scientific objects and apparatus be brought into the classroom, but entire experiments can be carried out virtually. The Froggipedia app is a great example of this, allowing students to virtually dissect a frog with no mess and the freedom to repeat steps without needing a new specimen.

Froggipedia is available to download
on the App Store

Am I suggesting that this should completely replace a true dissection? No. But why not let students develop their skills before trying the real thing (an activity they will likely only get a single opportunity to engage with.)

Charlie Fink (AR pioneer and Forbes columnist) says that very soon the world will be “painted with data” thanks to AR, and he’s right. AR will penetrate daily life steadily over the next decade and the students sitting in our primary classrooms right now will live in a world infused with augmented reality interaction. As such we should be preparing them to use this technology and make sure they are future ready.

If schools are interested in learning more about AR in education, a great place to start is my website (www.virtualiteach.com), where I freely share lots of resources about immersive technology for learning.

Steve Bambury is a freelance consultant working with schools to help them integrate technology in classrooms. Having worked at JESS Dubai as Head of Digital Learning and Innovation for 11 years, he is also an Apple Distinguished Educator and a Microsoft Master Trainer.