Imagine studying about the salt march walking alongside Gandhi or reading about ancient Babylon while taking a tour of the hanging gardens. Learning would move from being not just hands-on and experimental to experiential interacting through the auditory, haptic, olfactory and visual sensory channels. High school students would be able to dissect insects and students in medical universities could possibly even perform surgeries stimulating real-life situations. No, I’m not talking about the next Black Mirror episode- these exciting new prospects are soon going to be everyday classroom opportunities!
Source: Evolution of technology in the classroom, Augment
What is the purpose of education? To help students of different intellectual capacities from diverse socio-economic backgrounds learn the problems and discoveries of the past, to understand the challenges of the present and to come up with viable and sustainable solutions for an improved future.
Some of the challenges faced by educators today is falling student engagement, both inside and outside classrooms, noticeable knowledge gaps between students with and without learning disabilities, and retaining student interest and/or helping them gain a thorough understanding of abstract ideas and theories. In the past, educators have developed and implemented an array of different solutions like the abacus, calculators, computers and tablets. Successful as each of these have been in relation to the technology of the time they were used in, today’s classroom is veering in a different, and what several experts may argue, a sort of ‘end-game’ for technological revolution in education: Augmented reality. More specifically, the application of Augmented Reality in education.
Augmented Reality learning is set to be a game changer in classrooms. If I had to break it down into the major changes educators believe bringing AR in education will have upon learning it would be to Stimulating student engagement, Simplify classroom material, Foster creativity, and Support self-paced learning.
- Stimulate student-engagement with the course and abstract models and concepts by providing a Discovery-based learning model when developers bring augmented reality into the classroom
Augmented reality in education is already making huge strides in the field of history with the EU-funded iTacitus AR project designed to play-out relevant historic events that happened at the locations people accessing them are in taking the use of AR in historic sites a notch higher from the existing uses which include providing supply overlay maps and dynamically overlay notes of historical information to visitors. Bringing augmented reality applications to educational institutions would pave way for an augmented reality learning powered by AR lesson plans and augmented reality methods of teaching. There exist educational AR apps like Aurasma and Blippar bring out the element of investigation and independence in learning for subjects such as math, science and English by allowing users to experience different concepts including complex chemical structures and 3D co-ordinate geometry using a camera and marker shapes, all of which would be impossible in a tech-free classroom.
- Simplify and bring alive to the classroom material which otherwise would be inaccessible to students except as pure theory (e.g. In the disciplines of history, astronomy etc) through visuals including Augmented Reality books
Augmented Reality books like ITCraft are software that make literature interactive by integrating video, audio and images to enhance the reading experience and make learning more valuable. For example, The Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology in Thailand uses books of the kind to explain the different layers of the earth. These textbooks could potentially eliminate the need for chemical labs, reducing costs by thousands of dollars and ensuring low-budget school students aren’t significantly disadvantaged, by replacing safety googles with Head-Mounted-Displays, 3-D chemicals, and computer-generated equipment.
The cost-factor doesn’t play in as much for these books as interfaces like The MagicBook developed at the HILab even allow normal books to be experienced as AR books, bringing diagrams and other visuals (refer to the image below) to life.
Source: The MagicBook: a transitional AR interface
- Promote and foster creativity
Objects can be modeled and manipulated: shifting them on different axes and placing them in different real-world instances. This has already had widespread applications in the fields of architecture and engineering with some architectural universities in Brazil using AR to project scale models of buildings while being notified in real-time about any inconsistencies in their project while drawing up the plans itself. New technology allows multiple users to collaborate and work on the same model. The fields of chemical and physical sciences would largely benefit with specifically designed augmented reality technology as well. For example, researchers at the University of Canterbury created a tool that allows students to study how various objects interact with each other.
- Cater to every student on the learning spectrum and Enable students to learn at their own pace
One major advantage of augmented reality learning is that most of this technology can be taken home, making it accessible all-day round and therefore helping students control the pace with which they take in information and ensuring students have equal access to knowledge. Furthermore, augmented reality technology is designed such that students don’t require advanced computational skills as many of these interfaces like Shared Space use simple marks and simple visual tools to navigate.
Source: How VR is changing education, Veative
Out of a poll with 166 teachers from India, Japan, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Veative concluded that 71% teachers believed AR and VR would accommodate individual learning styles and aid students with learning difficulties to person better.
Challenges in the field
As exciting as the opportunities may seem, we are still a long way off from fully integrating this ‘technology of the future’ into classrooms. The primary reason being the massive funds that institutions will require to implement augmented reality applications. Take for example Microsoft’s headset HoloLens which is a staggering $3000 (Approximately INR 2,00,000) but on the flip-side, there also exist several free or low-cost applications such as Quiver and Google Cardboard for which users only require a smartphone.
Artificial Intelligence will transform the education sector and the face of education. This table summarises adequately the article and encourage educators and institutions to embrace and incorporate these changes in classrooms worldwide in order to optimize education.