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Immersive Learning with AR and VR


With the introduction of Augmented reality and virtual reality into the education system, the classroom learning experience has undergone a tremendous change. Learning has become much more immersive than traditional methods. Unlike plain images and hands-on experiments in the lab, students can now view enhanced versions of the image and objects on their mobile devices. The augmented and virtual reality trends in education technology are making learning a compelling experience.

While augmented reality provides an enhanced view of a real image, virtual reality gives a false perception of reality around them. Both these techniques have taken digital learning to new dimensions. AR and VR are increasingly being used to explain complex concepts. From atoms to planets, and from Egypt to the Colosseum, students can explore and learn so much more.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to the integration of digital or computer-generated information with the real-world environment to provide an enhanced version of reality. Here, it is important to differentiate between Virtual Reality (VR) and AR. VR creates an artificial environment. AR, on the other hand, enhances the real environment for more participation, immersion, and interaction.

In the era of digital, where a majority of school-going kids having access to smartphones, AR is making deep inroads in education, making studies more interesting, immersive and contextual. Here we list some ways by which AR is transforming the classrooms.

Pre-made Courses

Using AR apps on their phones, students can bring alive the lessons in their textbooks, that is, if the books have been AR-enabled. So what is an AR-enabled textbook? Basically, digital publishers can add  AR features to their books to provide context. For example, a lesson on an artist can have AR features, such as a gallery containing the works of the artist and some information about the era in which the works were created.

When the students point their AR app on their phone to the lesson, they will be able to see the gallery and thus, gain more insight into the artist’s life and works. The other benefit of this is that with AR features already embedded in the books, the teachers are spared the hassle of creating their own audio/video materials to supplement their lessons.

AR-Enabled Worksheets

AR-enabled worksheets enable students to learn independently in the comfort of their own homes. In the digital age, it has become very difficult to engage students with static content. AR-enabled worksheets make homework both easy and interesting. The students just need to point their AR-enabled mobile phones on their worksheets, and the app would launch corresponding digital elements, such as video, quiz, map, podcast or virtual representation of a 3D object. Students can thus, browse through a host of contextual digital material, learn at their own pace and try the various activities and learn by doing.

AR Walls

Another innovative use of AR in the classroom is to create Word Walls to enrich the vocabulary of students. For example, the wall can contain a list of words to be taught. With the help of AR, students can view their meanings and examples of their use. There can be similar walls for other lessons as well, for example, in geography, the wall can have pictures of planets and the students can use their AR app to view audio/videos and other 3D elements to learn more about them.

How to create AR-enabled content?

In the era of rich digital disruptions, digital publishers can up their game and entice their young learners with AR-enabled eBooks and learning material. There are several digital publishing platforms that allow publishers to create AR-enabled content. They simply have to upload their PDF files and then follow steps to add AR elements to the text to make the content more interactive.

Here are some ideas on how AR in education can improve kids’ imagination.

1. Immersive learning:

AR finds great use in teaching mathematics, especially geometry. For example, a teacher may want to teach about different geometrical shapes. Students are most likely to be familiar with shapes, such as square, rectangle, triangle, and circle. However, going beyond these, the less familiar shapes, such as a hexagon, parallelogram, and polygon, can be taught through 3D models. Then again, the lesson can have links to real-life examples, such as buildings in which these shapes have been used. This would aid the students’ learning process and make it more engaging and immersive.

2. Learning by doing:

It goes without saying that learning by doing provides the best learning outcomes. Augmented Reality provides various opportunities for stimulating children’s imagination. It motivates them to actively participate in the learning process rather than just being a passive listener sponging up knowledge.

A teacher may wish to teach students about India’s capital Delhi. On the classroom display board, the instructor can put up some ‘trigger’ images, for example, various heritage sites. Each child or a group of children can be assigned one image which they can look up on their smartphones or computer and find information related to that site.

The information can be shared with the class by the group. Such activities can motivate students to find interesting nuggets about the subject under study. Also, since they have put in the effort to search for information and glean through it, they are more likely to retain it for a long period.

3. Contextual learning:

In the conventional classroom teachers use 3D models to explain a subject to students. However, in a non-conventional classroom AR can provide more information than just explaining. Take biology class as an example.

While teaching human anatomy, the teacher can divide the class into groups and each group can be given a section to examine.  The teacher can show various lifelike 3D models on the projector screen, where students can see the blood in circulation or the food being digested. With AR, students can in a way see all that goes on within the body.

This helps to add context and relevance to the subject under study. Similarly, several museums and historical sites have already added used AR technology to provide audio/video guided tours of their collections or places. Through a simulated environment, Augmented Reality can ‘transport’ the students to the place understudy for a first-hand experience.

4. Make homework interesting:

Teachers can also explore AR opportunities to make homework more interesting and engaging for the students. For example, for homework, students can be provided AR-printable worksheets which blend printable materials, such as PDFs with virtual elements. Students just have to point their mobile devices at the printed worksheet to pull out the corresponding digital element. Thus, AR can help to foster a positive relationship between education and technology.

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