As technology continues to advance, educators are constantly developing new and creative ways to teach their students. From the chalkboard and the projector to smartboards and tablets, the tools being utilized in education have rapidly changed within the last decade. In more recent years, educators have begun to add augmented reality (AR) to their ever-developing range of educational tools.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality, often shortened to AR, blends the real-world environment with computer-generated additions to “augment” how the user experiences reality. AR usually does this by incorporating physical environments as the “background” or “setting” of a game or application and then adding digitally-created elements that interact with the real-world environment such as objects or digital overlays. AR programs utilize a number of different devices such as helmet gear, gloves, and hand-held devices like tablets and smartphones. Augmented reality differs from virtual reality in that virtual reality immerses the user in a completely fabricated “reality”, whereas augmented reality creates a blend of the physical environment and digital constructs. Similarly, AR differs from augmented Virtuality (AV) in that AR adds computer-generated, virtual elements to a reality-based environment while AV incorporates reality-based elements to a virtually-generated environment. The most well-known examples of AR in current times are the different lenses on Snapchat which allow you to superimpose cartoon filters over your own image and games like Pokemon Go that add computer-generated elements to real-world environments.

Augmented Reality In Education

As AR technology has advanced, a number of different educators and educational institutions have started to incorporate AR into their teaching techniques. In the classroom, a number of teachers use AR apps that animate science textbooks and study flashcards to make the experience more enjoyable for the student. Some teachers also use AR to enhance the homework that they give their students by incorporating interactive puzzles and quizzes for their students. Another effective way teachers have begun to use augmented reality education is through AR Lab classes, which allow students to interact with 3D models of humans, animals, and plants in their lab classes. This often provides students with a more concise way to explore and learn about the topics in lab, as the AR systems will provide the students with valuable information on the objects they’re dissecting or the chemicals they are experimenting with as they are completing the lab.

Along with being used in the classroom, a number of different organizations have begun to use AR education to train employees or even soldiers. One example of how AR education is being used in society can be found in the US army, where trainers are using an AR program known as the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) to prepare their soldiers for combat. The STE program does this by simulating combat conditions over a real-world environment to give soldiers realistic combat experience before they have to risk their lives in actual combat.

AR education has also become increasingly popular among museums and other historical educators, who utilize AR to provide their audiences with an interesting, interactive learning experience that teaches them about the history of different places and people. One example of this is an AR educational game that was developed by Grendel Games, “Blok Out”, which teaches people who visit a medieval prison in the Netherlands, known as the “Blokhuispoort” about the history of the building by having the user play a mystery game as they tour through the building. As the player solves the puzzles and advances in the game, they learn more interesting facts about the Blokhuispoort and the history of the surrounding area. Similarly, other companies have developed games that allow students to become “environmental detectives” in a way that teaches kids about how industrial development can affect the natural environment and encourages players to become more environmentally aware.

Benefits of Augmented Reality in Education

Based on case studies and real-life applications of augmented reality education, experts have determined that applying augmented reality in education can have a number of benefits.

Disadvantages of Augmented Reality Education

Concluding Thoughts

Undoubtedly, using augmented reality for educational purposes would have a number of benefits. Although there would be some disadvantages as well, the most notable drawbacks can be resolved. The problems of cost and performance issues, for example, could be alleviated through supporting professionals businesses that specialize in the development of AR education programs, such as Grendel Games. These companies excel in developing educational augmented reality games on a managed budget and can help academic organizations interested develop plans to implement AR in their classrooms as well.


What about Virtual Reality in Education?

Earlier we mentioned virtual reality in our explanation of what augmented reality is and how it differs from VR. Now that you’ve heard about the benefits and disadvantages of incorporating augmented reality in education, you may be curious about how virtual reality can be used in education and the possible benefits or disadvantages of this application. Similar to augmented reality, virtual reality has the benefit of helping students become more engaged in learning and providing them methods of learning materials that are more personalized to their individual needs. However, virtual reality education does have some challenges as well, such as motion sickness and distracting students from the educational material. For more on the benefits and disadvantages of incorporating virtual reality into education, be sure to check out our article on the topic.

Serious games are also making inroads into education. Students sometimes need a push when it comes to motivation to learn. Often that is the teacher, but it can also be different. Because serious games offer a different experience than a book or a test, it sometimes doesn’t feel like a lesson. Games are fun, kids know that better than anyone. This ensures that children are exposed to the teaching material for a long time if this is explained by means of a serious game. The result: better knowledge transfer. That is just a brief summary. Want to know more about serious games in education? Then read this article.

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