Augmented Reality Brings Interactive Learning to the Classroom

January 27, 2016

6:03 pm

The world is at a pinnacle moment of the Information Era, known as the New Media Age. Technology is rapidly progressing at such a rate that many ideas still seem to be that of science fiction. On the roads, cars are literally driving themselves. UAV’s and drones are making advancements in some unexpected ways by aiding in efforts related to agriculture, law enforcement, and filmmaking. At work, archaic landline phones are long gone and have been replaced by sleek wireless headsets and powerful communication methods such as telecommunication.

In 2016, many industries will benefit from augmented reality as advancements in technology will start to really make a mark in education. The form of virtual reality known as augmented reality will be increasingly important within this concept.

Augmented reality opens up a previously unexplored avenue for education. The possibilities are still slightly unknown as developing AR tech continues to skyrocket. AR allows students and teachers to expand the physical world. It does this with a form of virtual overlay. Tablets, smartphones, and VR headsets alike are scanning tangible things in our physical world with apps that allow a new layer of information to appear. This newfound form of information is powerful and relatively unexplored. 3D models are powerful tools that will continue to push AR forward.

The following concepts are revolutionary ideas centered around augmented reality. They showcase huge potential for the future.

Google Cardboard

If there’s one thing that Google does better than anyone else, it’s take an idea and expand upon it in a revolutionary way. That’s exactly what they’ve done with the concept of a search engine. Ever wonder how Google is able to give you a seemingly endless amount of relevant search results to a query in about a second? It’s because Google is so highly advanced that the Internet entity has essentially indexed the entire Internet. Rather than searching through the immensely dense sea of information on internet every time a search is performed, Google searches through their own system of highly organized information.

This mindset is a consistent one when it comes to Google and augmented reality and the related ‘DIY’ headset: Google Cardboard.

What makes Google Cardboard unique is that it doesn’t focus on expensive hardware. It focuses on user experience and affordability, making Google Cardboard a much more attainable form of AR than more expensive options. This style of headset utilizes a simplistic cardboard design which can be purchased for under $20, making Google Cardboard is an extremely affordable method.

Additionally, many apps for smartphones only Android 3.0 Honeycomb software which has been available for almost five years. Even much older phones are compatible with most apps. This means that these interactive devices will be available in classrooms all over the world. Students of all ages can benefit from this type of hands on tech. College anatomy students can use Augmented Reality apps for advanced anatomy modeling and elementary kids can use apps such as Quiver to bring their artwork to life.

3D Coloring and Creativity

The vast majority of kids love cartoons, and they usually like creating colorful and exciting things. The coloring app Quiver, lets kids color images that literally come to life through the use of basic augmented reality.

While ideal for younger children, even adults will enjoy coloring once they are introduced to Quiver. The app uses their own special coloring pages that become animated 3D characters in an interactive tabletop world. The characters come to life through the app thus interacting with them is basically the equivalent of a video game.

Interactive Print on ‘Steroids’

Evernote is an app that lets user store information in ‘notebooks’ and categorizes them in a highly user friendly manner. This is particularly useful for cataloging images, such as infographics, that contain a lot of text within an image. It’s possible to clip these types of images with Evernote and they are stored as searchable documents, rather than simple images.

Take the principals of Evernote, add in elements of AR, and something beautiful is born. Apps like Layar allow users to create augmented reality content the coincides with physical text. The company puts it into perspective in their mission statement:

“We believe augmented reality has the power to effect change in the way people discover and interact with useful and educational information.”

While textbooks are already transitioning into something more digital, the new era of the textbook is on the horizon. Printed school materials will become less and less relevant as wasteful paper consumption begins to dissipate. Paper sheet music in band classes will no longer exist, pages upon pages of handwritten notes will become extinct, and large volume textbooks will no longer be necessary.   

Anatomy/Healthcare Fields

Augmented reality is immensely promising when it comes to advanced 3D models. This concept will prove to be extremely advantageous to education, especially higher ed and educational training in workplaces.

At a glance modeling tech will help conserve crucial supplies with limited availability by replacing them with 3D models. Imagine if it was no longer necessary to dissect a cadaver to experience what the inside of human is truly like.

The app 4D Anatomy is at the forefront of enhanced reality platforms for anatomy. It allows students to perform emulated dissections without real physical specimens. In addition to being interactive on a whole new level, 4D Anatomy is cloud-based and utilizes detailed VR graphics, and even has quizzes and other proficiency checks for students built right in.

What’s more, augmented reality is already being incorporated into medical devices, such as microscopes and other advanced surgical tools. As this medical tech progresses, human error and accountability will start to fade away. Surgeons will use augmented reality to perform their jobs safely, and more accurately.

Interactive Documentaries

Documentaries in schools are oftentimes played for students as a means of breaking monotonous activities and schedules. But when educational videos are played in classrooms they are often times ignored by students and lack the level of engagement that other hands on teaching styles project.

But what if the material being shown to students was engulfed by the world of augmented reality?

AR is a great interface for this because it can quickly bounce around many types of media such as detailed diagrams, engaging graphics, and interactive maps. National Geographic is already jumping on this idea through the use of augmented reality in their exhibition and related app Earth Explorers. Students are able to utilize AR within Earth Explorers and are able to study the world’s most remote environments through the app. They are able to go places they clearly wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

When it comes to education and augmented reality, this is simply the beginning. The world is just starting to comprehend this powerful technology and its practicalities. The future of education through VR/AR will only continue to expand and will likely be an integral part of their teaching curriculum in the near future.

Did you like this article?

Get more delivered to your inbox just like it!

Sorry about that. Try these articles instead!

Robert Parmer is a freelance web writer, a student at Boise State University, and a chef. Besides writing and reading avidly, he enjoys creating and recording music, caring for his pet cat, and commuting by bicycle whenever possible. Follow him on Twitter @robparmer