One of the biggest challenges for any teacher is to keep classes updated and interesting. Children learn better when they are interested and fully focused on what is being taught.
Teachers use a range of activities and approaches to try and make classes relatable and fun. However, new technology is now helping to bring classes to life in an ‘almost’ real way. Virtual reality and augmented reality can create shared experiences that are truly impressive.
Augmented reality is often great for training as it adds elements to the real world. The entire class can still see each other and the teacher, but they can also see and interact with virtual elements that are added to the real world to create a shared augmented experience.
This is not to say that these devices are to replace teachers, but that they complement classes by modernizing learning and providing interactive and visual elements that would normally not be possible. Augmented reality can bring situations to life and give a different perspective to almost any subject taught in schools.
How Augmented Reality Can Benefit The Classroom
Augmented reality can change and improve the learning experience. It is a diverse tool that can be used in numerous ways. Here we look at some of the ways it can be added to education to bring learning to life and make it more interesting, if not exciting.
- Engagement is one of the main benefits of augmented reality experiences. Many students can zone out (or even fall asleep) during traditional board work and bookwork. Whereas with augmented experiences things become real and modern. The interactivity of elements with mixed reality is taking things even further. Even history can become a modern and exciting experience via augmented representations. Many exercise apps can be used in physical education, turning normal gym experiences into jungle adventures or futuristic battles.
- Explain concepts that many students would find challenging or simply not be able to understand. As augmented reality can render objects to appear real in the world around us, it can help to show students how a concept works. From maths to complex science, augmented reality can greatly assist learners, especially those who are visual learners.
- Skill training is a particularly strong point of augmented reality apps. Many companies are already using augmented and virtual reality apps and goggles to get employees trained up with the skills they need and to provide them with virtual on the job experience before they begin to work on live projects. These systems can provide real ‘hands-on’ experience using both hands and virtual tools to interact with augmented or virtual elements. Almost anything is possible, from product design to learning complex processes of engine assembly.
- Learning through doing is often considered the best way to learn something and remember it long term. While this might not apply to all subjects, many can be adapted to this augmented training approach. Students can learn through trying dangerous scientific experiments in virtual worlds, trying ancient machinery in the classroom, or even attempting surgery on virtual humans.
- Add additional information and experiences that complement existing causes. Seeing a 3D model of something explained in a textbook can help students truly see how things work and why they are that way. It can show concepts such as evolution or the internal workings of machinery. The added ‘snippets’ can deepen understanding in almost all subjects.
All of the above comes together to create learning experiences that are memorable and play to various learning approaches. It can help to involve the entire class and share moments that will be discussed after classes.
Sparking interest and creating memorable learning experiences should be the aim of every teacher and augmented reality is making that easier.
Our Top Augmented Reality Apps For The Classroom
Here we have tried to include a good mix to cover a range of typical school subjects. For teachers considering using these in the classroom, please check age ratings and content. Although most will be available in the normal Google or Apple app stores, the content may not be appropriate for all ages.
1. AugThat – Is an educational app developed by an educator. It provides numerous augmented reality experiences of a huge range of topics. This is a good all-around app for making learning fun and interesting.
2. Math Alive – This is more for younger kids, but can help to bring a dynamic element to mathematics. It uses specially printed cards to trigger experiences, such as counting games and activities. There is no need for glasses, as this can work perfectly well on a mobile device. The package also includes a large number of materials that complement the kindergarten curriculum.
3. 3DBear – An app about 3D creation. Teachers can assign lessons through a control dashboard area and get their students to complete a range of tasks. The ap is creative and allows users to create scenes from the library of virtual objects. It can also scan objects or import objects into the app library. This app also comes with a range of lessons that are ready to go, making it easy for teachers to use as an additional educational tool.
4. HistoryView VR – This app allows students to explore historical places in virtual reality. While not an augmented reality app, it deserved a mention, as it is free and can help students to experience some amazing and interesting locations. It could work well as homework, where students can use any mobile device to experience famous museums, national parks, locations of historical events, and all sorts of other significant landmarks. Every tour is also loaded with interactive information to teach learners more about the place.
5. Catchy Words AR – This app is designed to be mainly used with young learners of the ‘elementary school’ age group. It is a free word game that combines learning vocabulary with actions. The idea is that students have to work out the word and to do that they have to run/walk around and catch the letters to solve the puzzles. It is a clever combination of exercise, spelling practice, and thought development.
6. Metaverse has a website where learners can create augmented reality experiences as well as play with a range of objects including background effects and characters. They can create entire scenes or movies by adding sound effects, speech bubbles, voice, text, and more. The system comes with full training and, while it may take some time to pick up, the training itself is a learning experience for students. The finished ‘creations’ can then be experienced by friends and other students via the app and scanning a QR code.
7. JigSpace – this app offers a shared knowledge library and the ability to develop prototypes, experiments, and demonstrations in an augmented environment. A “Jig” is a 3D demonstration of a topic or item that’s available in either augmented reality or virtual reality. It allows students to see and learn, such as exploring how inventions work or seeing a scaled version of the solar system.
8. Augment Education – This app is intended more for highschool students. It teaches students how to create an augmented reality presentation. Not only is this a useful skill as augmented reality training continues to expand, but it can also help to make any topic more interesting to all students. Users can also make virtual models of things to bring more learning experiences to the classroom.
9. SkyMap – this is Google’s creation, the Google Sky Map and it is designed specifically for use in classrooms. The app allows students to explore and learn about our solar system, planets, and stars. It is fully responsive and interactive, which only adds to the experience and drawing in students to explore. When students point a mobile device at an area of the sky, the app can show the stars and planets of that part of space. The app also highlights interesting locations and has built-in challenges that are designed to further encourage students to learn through exploration.
10. Popar Toys – this app brings a range of posters, puzzles, board games, and books to life with augmented reality. It makes what would nowadays seem like a boring 2D experience jump to life with augmented reality. It helps to increase engagement and knowledge retention, while also adding a range of fun experiences to learning.
11. Story Spheres – has a website and virtual reality app to assist with creating and showing off digital stories. While virtual and not augmented, it is worth a mention as it brings 360-degree images to life by allowing users to add sounds or narrative. This can be used for projects for students or for teachers to explain and enhance the digital renderings of scenes and places.
The above list is in no particular order. All of the apps listed are great for the classroom, but there are certainly many more out there. One great aspect of augmented reality apps for the classroom is often the pricing. As these are for education, many are developed and provided free of charge for teachers and educated by larger companies, other educators, or kind-hearted developers.
Google, Bing, and other major players are also developing huge ranges of educational augmented reality apps, most of which are free and available for all educators to take advantage of. Using this technology can transform boring topics into interactive fun learning experiences.