A recent article in EdTechMagazine, an online media focused on technology’s role in education, looks at the promise of augmented reality (AR) in providing primary and secondary school children a more interactive and engaging learning experience. As the writer introduces her piece, AR hit mainstream consciousness as a result of the somewhat bizarre mania that greeted the flash-in-a-pan explosion of the Pokemon Go mobile computer game in the summer of 2016.
For a couple of months, the news was filled with coverage of Pokemon Go players wandering and even breaking into places as strange and diverse as abandoned mines, churches, other peoples’ weddings and even funerals. A handful of people were even knocked over by cars as they remained glued to an augmented reality version of the world through their mobile phones as they pursued Pokemon for points, or something…
However ridiculous those of us over the age of 25 (hopefully) found the craze, credit where credit’s due – for at least a little while it got millions of youngsters off their behinds and out and about. It’s that aspect of AR, the motivation and encouragement its immersive nature seems to provide, that educators are getting enthusiastic about.
Unlike Virtual Reality, that creates an entirely artificial sensory environment, AR overlays additional digital information and other features onto our actual environment. While still very much developing, a number of apps have already been released that demonstrate the future of AR technology in education. For example, holding a mobile phone with an AR-app activated over a textbook can turn it into an interactive experience. An AR app can turn a classmate’s body, or the student’s own, into a live anatomy chart for a biology lesson.
In higher education, particularly in medicine, AR is being treated very seriously as a way to improve learning. The University of Nebraska Medical Centre has started work on a $118.9 (£90.25) million facility to develop the AR and VR resources that will transform healthcare education.
AR is also thought to hold huge potential to improve the experience of hearing-impaired students through the creation of interactive sign language flashcards. The New Jersey Institute of Technology has commented:
“Augmented reality has the potential to revolutionise learning in primary and secondary schools more than any other technology has done in the recent past… several studies published in the last four years have shown that it enhances learning and classroom interactions.”
Those studies have found that use of AR technology within education has led to improvements in:
- Learning performance
- Learning motivation
- Student Engagement
- Attitude and motivation
Watch this space. In a classroom near you soon hopefully AR will be motivating youngsters in their hunt for knowledge and skills and not only pokemon!