Augmented Reality


Augmented Reality appears to have gone “mainstream” for the first time. Augmented reality superimposes information on our world through the use of technology. When I say mainstream, I am referring to the use of Augmentation in our modern world. Remember the video game, Pokémon? Millions of children — and adults — ran around their neighborhood looking for Pokémon characters. 

I think it is obvious that augmented reality can bring new life into our classrooms. Even flashcards used to learn the alphabet can become creative tools as the cards come to life. Again the opportunities for learning are endless. The problem with advancement in education is that it is often a very long, drawn out process, and we just don’t have the time to draw out the process. All you need is a smartphone or a tablet, a few apps and you’re in business. The future is now and it’s not going to wait for our educators to catch up.

These characters were a product of Augmented Reality. We recently rented a high-end vehicle and in the windshield in front of the driver was the speed limit of the area, the speed at which you were traveling and a GPS directional highway —augmented reality. Even more recently, our country experienced a monster hurricane on the east coast. The Weather Chanel shared the power of augmented reality by not only discussing the storm surge as possibly six to nine feet, but also demonstrating what this surge would actually look like as compared to a human being.

You can see this video on You Tube produced by the Weather Channel. It is not only informative but also includes a bit of the “fear factor.”

While augmented reality is making its way into our lives, it has a way to go to make its way into our classrooms. These tools seem futuristic in nature, but I have said many times that the future is now. Although the possibilities to use augmented reality in education is boundless, it is still a new and somewhat scary technology. The benefits for students outweigh the burden of more training needed for teachers and students in the use of this special technology.

We can all agree that an engaged student achieves so much more and retains knowledge longer than a passive student knee deep in text. Augmented reality is a giant leap towards motivating all children to want to know more and to develop independent thinking as well as a more creative spirit, all of which are designated as digital age skills.

Augmented reality adds an interactive dimension to the learning experience with the student being able to manipulate 3D objects. Students would certainly enjoy manipulating geometric shapes in a 3D environment as opposed to the flat two dimensional textbook shapes. You can imagine the student’s new ability to solve problems using the actual three dimensional objects as they leap from the tablet.

One particular piece of technology is taking the educational augmented reality experience by storm, the Merge Cube. The Merge Cube along with their apps has successfully brought augmented reality into the classroom. Using their apps, the study of the human body becomes a trip to the Science Center and viewing an actual heart and lungs and watching the entire circulatory system operate becomes an amazing lesson for all children. How about the excitement generated as the entire solar system rotates around the classroom ceiling? Learning can become so much more relevant as we take advantage of these simple augmented reality lessons.

Drew Minock, in an Edutopia article, shares ways augmented reality can be used in the classroom:

  • Book Reviews: Students can record themselves giving a brief book review, and attach that “aura” (assigned digital information) to the book. An aura is an augmented reality object used in the Aurasma app. Other students can then scan the cover of the book and access the book review complements of our student.
  • Word Walls: Primary teachers love to use word walls for many and varied purposes. Again students can record themselves providing the definitions to the different vocabulary words. Using the Aurasma app, the student pops up on the screen sharing his or her definition.
  • Safety in the Classroom: The teacher can place what is referred to as “triggers” or symbols which begin the augmented reality experience similar to a QR code around the classroom and the students can scan them and quickly learn the safety rules of the classroom.
Dr. L. Robert Furman is an educator, principal,speaker, and published author. As a former teacher and now administrator, Dr. Rob serves in the foreground of everyday education. Currently, Dr. Rob serves as Principal at South Park Elementary Center outside of Pittsburgh, PA, and has truly become a sought after leader in topics surrounding the field of education today. Dr. Rob is the author of several books including Reading, Technology, and Digital Literacy and the ISTE bestselling title Are You Future Ready.  His latest book, Engaging All Readers will be out this Spring. Beyond speaking at venues across the country, Dr. Rob is also a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post as well as the Ed Tech Review. Rob also hosts a well-known YouTube educational video blog called The Seditionists and educational podcast called the Council on the Future of Education.  Further, he has received several prestigious awards, such as being named in the National School Board Association’s “20 To Watch” in technology education and a Pittsburgh Tribune Review News Maker of the year.

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