5 Myths about Augmented Reality

Ruggero Cortese, Digital Learning Coach at H-FARM International School Rosà

Augmented reality in education is becoming an increasingly popular technology used in schools around the world. For many years, I have been designing immersive learning experiences using the iPad and some AR apps, and I have verified how engaging this new technology is for students and how it allows them to acquire new ways of learning while improving learning outcomes.

AR technology attracts attention, but it also raises concerns from educators who are wondering if it is worth including it in their classrooms.

What are the main doubts that arise?

  1. AR is an inferior technology to VR

While still a little in its early days, compared to virtual reality, AR offers similar but more convenient features for schools and is easier for teachers. AR has some important advantages over virtual reality, for example, that learning still takes place in the real world, placing itself along the spectrum between real and virtual, without being too unbalanced towards the latter; this encourages interactivity and involvement. Another advantage of AR is that it allows you to create immersive experiences relatively easily and in a short time with dedicated apps. I am also convinced that, in the near future, we will see a progressive increase of the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality by combining the opportunities offered by both.

2. AR is for fun and has no educational purpose

AR is not just the latest didactic gimmick to capture students’ attention, but a tool to improve learning. Joy, fun and play are the halls of education, think of the success achieved in recent years by didactic strategies based on Gamification, Serious Game and Game-Based Learning. Play and fun help develop intuitive thinking, as well as increase the motivation for learning. You can gamify the class or the whole school by adding AR experiences to the exhibits, posters hanging on the walls, or you can organize treasure hunts linked to curricular themes. The experiences in AR are very significant from the didactic point of view because they involve careful planning and require the collaboration of students with different roles, to carry out all the phases of the digital content creation process: brainstorm, design, build, test and share.

3. You need sophisticated AR apps and technologies

AR is very practicable in the classroom as the iPad screens act as a diaphragm between two realities without the need for expensive additional equipment. It requires a very minimal and inexpensive configuration, which includes an Internet connection, mobile devices and dedicated AR apps for the education world. There are many free apps, among which I suggest Reality Composer, which offers the possibility to create content independently, designing the work from scratch, not just using ready-made object libraries. You can also create objects starting from a simple drawing in Keynote, or create them in 3D with Tinkercad or even scan real objects with the Qlone App and then bring them into the AR experiences.

4. AR experiences can only be done in the classroom

In the activity “Peggy Guggenheim’s glasses”, primary school students imagined how the world could be seen through the glasses of the great collector and to do this, they used a drawing app and with the axis of symmetry, they drew their glasses which they later rendered 3D in Tinkercad. Finally, they were 3D printed and worn during the visit to the Guggenheim collection in Venice to the amazement of visitors. MYP students then imagined how to present the work of their little classmates in AR and through Reality Composer, they exhibited them on turntables arranged on tables by inserting many contents in audio format that can be activated with a click. It was possible to share the AR experience and then take it out of the classroom, allowing it to be reproduced in different environments, such as at home, in a museum, anywhere in short. For those who had an iPhone or iPad equipped with TrueDepht Camera, it was also possible to wear them virtually, in fact, the app allows you to recognize and anchor the glasses to the viewer’s face.

5. It is difficult for teachers to integrate AR into their lessons

It is important that teachers approach the use of AR in a gradual and reasonable way if they want to achieve their goals and that they accurately evaluate the apps that best suit their grade. Teachers have easy technology at their disposal, with a very fast learning curve that maximizes students’ ability to dedicate their time to learning acquisition of curricular subjects. Attentive teachers are always trying to personalize the lesson, rather than using standardized content that is the same for everyone and this technology allows them to differentiate the way students conduct their investigations and use new information. The beauty of augmented reality is that it is always possible to adapt it to your needs and the limit is only the creativity that allows you to create unique paths and products that fully satisfy the educational needs.

Has my class improved with the use of AR?

In conclusion, based on my experience of using AR in the classroom, I fully promote this technology because it has allowed my students to handle three-dimensional models and experiences that they could hardly have experienced otherwise. It also allowed a better understanding of the concepts because it allowed us to visualize and move around objects, to explore them almost physically and to interact with the contents. Finally, it allowed my students to integrate fundamental elements for learning and to create interactive experiences in which virtual objects responded to real actions, developing collaboration, problem-solving skills and creating content by fully integrating digital skills and disciplinary knowledge.

The author

Ruggero Cortese teaches art and image and he is also the Digital Learning Coach at H-FARM International School Rosà. Since 2019 he has been an Apple Distinguished Educator, and since 2021 an Apple Professional Learning Specialist. For many years he has also been training teachers in collaboration with educational institutions and national research institutes. He has always been passionate about technology and art, and his interests range from contemporary art to Stem disciplines, robotics, coding and digital creativity.

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H-FARM International School aims to enhance our students’ talent and uniqueness, stimulate and develop their natural abilities and prepare them to to purposefully undertake their future challenges.

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