Augmented Reality in Education: Interactive Classrooms
What is augmented reality?
Examples of AR use in business
- Business presentations: Presenters can face challenges connecting with audiences and delivering messages. Augmented reality engages audiences by making them part of the presentation. For example, instead of asking customers to visualize a light fixture in a certain location, they can use AR to show how it would “really” look.
- Prototyping: During the product development stage, designers typically sketch prototypes digitally or on paper and use CAD modeling to produce a facsimile of the end product. Printing 3D prototypes can be expensive, making alterations costly. AR overlays virtual objects onto existing objects, allowing designers to change prototypes without printing a new one with every change.
- Research and development (R&D): Companies across industries known for their innovation spend billions of dollars each year on R&D. AR technology means faster and better visualization, improved collaboration, and accelerated time to market, reducing costs.
- Training and learning: Presentation is vital to sharing knowledge, and AR can be a handy tool for immersing audiences in their learning. AR applications can have learners move around a room to interact with the content, creating more active educational experiences. This can help them retain knowledge and grasp difficult concepts.
Examples of AR use across industries
- Engineering: Common applications for AR in engineering include production, training, and support. In the pump industry, AR helps technicians simulate complicated pump installations in water and wastewater operations rather than relying on a repair manual.
- Medicine and healthcare: From patient education and physician training to surgical visualization and disease prevention simulations, AR’s benefits for healthcare are clear. For example, one healthcare AR application maps a patient’s body, including the precise locations of veins, enabling healthcare professionals to more accurately draw blood or start an IV ahead of a surgical procedure or during a medical exam.
- Retail: AR can enhance interactions between customers and products. A customer browsing through the aisles of a store can point their smartphone toward a product to prompt an AR app to provide relevant information. Retailers like Ikea offer AR-powered apps that enable customers to visualize furniture in their own homes before buying.
- Manufacturing: About 2.4 million positions may be unfilled between 2018 and 2028 due to a growing manufacturing skills gap, according to Deloitte. AR can play a pivotal role in closing that gap and addressing complex processes in manufacturing. For example, manufacturing equipment, which often involves dozens of processes for hundreds of individual components, requires regular maintenance. AR can train a workforce to maintain equipment and perform remote equipment diagnostics, increasing manufacturing workforce productivity.
- Entertainment: While Pokemon Go was not the first AR video game, it has been one of the most popular since its 2016 launch, with more than 1 billion downloads as of February 2019. As 5G technology use increases, AR advances will continue to change how people entertain themselves. According to a Deloitte study, millennials and Generation Zers (those around 14 to 36 years old) plan to use 5G to stream more video, play more online games with social features, and immerse themselves in more AR digital worlds.
- Space exploration: A Lockheed Martin platform that combines machine learning and augmented reality may soon help humans reach Mars. If a mechanical problem arises on Mars, on-site astronauts might not receive repair instructions from Mission Control on Earth for over 40 minutes. This platform includes an AR visor that displays an overlay of data, such as thermal, gas mixtures, and other vital information, atop a physical space, which can help astronauts find their own timely fixes.
- Military and defense: Nothing can replace the intense and grueling physical aspects of training soldiers for combat. But augmented reality is enabling the military to add a layer of training that can help produce better soldiers. These apps improve situational awareness and train users to process information quickly and safely. For example, tactical augmented reality (TAR) provides tactical mapping during a military operation to help soldiers find friends and identify foes.
- Appinventiv, “AR/VR Trends and Predictions for 2020 & Beyond” — A look at trends and predictions for the future of the AR/VR market with various industry examples
- Light Guide Systems, “8 Industries Benefiting from Augmented Reality” — An overview of industries actively using AR technology in business and operational processes
- Live Science, “What Is Augmented Reality?” — A history of augmented reality and a glimpse of its future
- VXchnge, “Top 7 Augmented Reality Statistics for 2020 [+ Use Cases]” — Statistics and data that provide insights as to where the AR market is headed
Benefits of augmented reality in education
- Bulkiness of AR equipment
- Quality of AR educational content
- Concerns over its academic value
- Lack of proper funding
Benefits of AR
- Student engagement and interest: Student interest skyrockets with the opportunity to engage in creating educational content. AR technologies can allow them to add to curriculum content, create virtual worlds, and explore new interests.
- Learning environment: Classes that incorporate AR can help students become more involved. An interactive learning environment provides opportunities to implement hands-on learning approaches that can increase engagement, enhance the learning experience, and get students to learn and practice new skills.
- Content understanding: Lack of quality content focused on education, rather than entertainment, is a noted concern among teachers hesitant to use augmented reality in education. However, existing AR technology enables teachers to create immersive educational experiences on their own to help ensure their students understand curriculum content.
- Collaboration: As AR content is digital, it is easily shared. For example, a group of teachers can work with their students to continually refine the content. A collaborative learning environment provides students with increased motivation to learn because they are actively engaged in the educational content creation process.
- Memory: AR is an excellent tool for bringing lessons to life and helping students remember essential details. For example, instead of just presenting photographs on a projector showcasing life in Colonial America, a teacher can use AR technology to create memorable interactive stories.
- Sensory development: AR technology can help teachers create lesson plans with multisensory experiences. Students benefit from immersive virtual content that incorporates an experiential learning style in which students carry out physical activities instead of watching a demonstration. This approach can help with sensory development.
- Cost-effectiveness: The cost of AR equipment is often cited as a barrier to adoption. However, as smartphone use continues to rise among young Americans, and since smartphones are already equipped with the hardware needed to run AR apps, augmented reality in education is increasingly more cost-effective to implement. Additionally, AR can lower educational costs by replacing expensive textbooks.
- EdSurge, “Five Ways Teachers Can Use — and Create — Augmented Reality Experiences” — Innovative ways teachers are using AR in the classroom
- EdTech, “Here Is What the Right Tools for Mixed Reality in the Classroom Look Like” — Insights on maximizing augmented reality in education investments
- Interesting Engineering, “Augmented Reality: The Future of Education” — AR strategies, tools, and platforms that can help accelerate STEM and coding learning
- The Tech Edvocate, “4 Benefits of Using Augmented Reality in the Classroom” — Key benefits of AR in teaching
- ViewSonic, “6 Benefits and 5 Examples of Augmented Reality in Education“ — A discussion of how AR improves student outcomes
- Campus Technology, “9 Amazing Uses for VR and AR in College Classrooms” — Examples of AR uses in college classrooms
Augmented reality in education examples
Chemistry and biology
Augmented reality in higher education
Science, technology, engineering, and math
Augmented reality apps for education
- Human Anatomy Atlas 2021 — 3D models and simulations of male and female anatomy help students and healthcare professionals understand how the human body works. Users can perform virtual dissections, view animations, explore muscle action, and more.
- Holo-Human — This AR app provides users with a collaborative environment to explore human anatomy models, including internal and 360-degree views. Teachers can also create lesson plans.
- VR Frog Dissection: Ribbit-ing Discoveries — In biology classes everywhere, students dissect frogs to learn about bodies. Through a fully immersive experience, this app substitutes this practice to allow teachers and students to study the anatomy of a frog through virtual dissection.
- GeoGebra Augmented Reality — From geometry and algebra to statistics and calculus, this interactive tool supports science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education through AR features that allow students to explore shapes and 3D functions, use critical thinking skills, and more.
- Expeditions — With hundreds of AR tours, this versatile app enables teachers and students to create and explore interactive, virtual environments.
- Exoplanet — This app, developed by a professional astronomer, provides an interactive catalog of known planets orbiting stars in the Milky Way.
- Star Walk — Users of this AR app can see and identify constellations and stars in real time and learn about interesting astronomy facts and daily statistics.
- Touch Surgery — Doctors and surgeons can use this app to prepare for surgical cases and learn about different procedures.
- 4D Interactive Anatomy — Students can test their knowledge and faculty can create custom quizzes using this 4D interactive anatomy app.
- Visible Body — For those with limited access to a lab, this app with AR dissection features allows students to see 3D models of the human anatomy in the real world.
- Plantale — Study a plant’s life journey and plant anatomy with this interactive AR app.
- Boulevard AR — This AR app brings artwork from the National Portrait Gallery to life to provide a museum-style experience from anywhere.
- 3DBear — This app combines AR, VR, 360-degree photos, scanning, and 3D printing to enhance remote and in-person learning.
- zSpace — This AR platform allows faculty to create immersive academic experiences and create content for a wide range of courses.