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4 Reasons to Try Augmented Reality in Your Classroom

No Matter What Grade and Subject You Teach

What is AR?

Augmented reality (AR) superimposes digital images, text, or animation onto the real world. AR apps typically use a camera on a tablet or smartphone to capture the real world on the camera screen. Then, using digital overlays, the apps “augment” reality by depicting both the real world and the superimposed objects for an interactive experience. This differs from virtual reality, which is a fully immersive experience that replaces the real-world environment and requires a special headset.

Are Educators Using AR?

As with all new technology, there are plenty of misconceptions surrounding AR — what it’s for, why it’s useful, and what educators need to implement it. We conducted a study among teachers, administrators, and parents on their understanding of AR in the classroom. We found that educators are not very familiar with AR:

Foster Deeper Student Engagement

Have you ever tested out a high-quality AR educational app? They’re exciting to see in action and a blast to use! It’s no wonder that students find AR experiences engaging. In her article for Edutopia on AR, Christine Danhoff, a technology integration specialist in Ohio, said:

“In my experience, students’ engagement increases when they create experiences in AR to demonstrate their understanding of a particular concept or standard. When students use augmented reality during a lesson, they want to dive into the content and don’t want to stop learning or exploring.” — Christine Danhoff, Educator

Most AR apps consist of interactive elements that allow students to engage with the content in a physical, tangible way that otherwise is either impossible or very cumbersome and time-consuming to do in the classroom. AR can make complex concepts that students have a hard time mastering far more visceral. For example, McGraw Hill AR, our new app with free, standards-aligned lessons, allows students to explore complex algebra concepts like cross-sections and rotations with interactive models:

Reach All Learners in New Modalities

While learning styles as a concept to refer to students as strictly “visual” or “auditory” learners is, in fact, a myth, there is certainly truth in the need to provide students with learning experiences that vary in modality and that provide different access points to content. Additionally, the research behind multimodal learning is growing — researchers believe that engaging multiple senses allows the brain to commit information to long-term memory and focus increased attention on the task at hand. When implemented purposefully, AR can provide an excellent outlet for tactile and visual exploration of concepts.

Foster Student Agency and Enhance Problem-Solving Skills

The opportunities to work AR activities into your lessons are endless. AR can be a key component of a larger project-based experience, providing an outlet for collaboration, problem-solving, and creative agency.

“As I continued to incorporate AR into my teaching I found more and more apps and programs that all had different specialties and advantages, so I regularly experimented with using new tools with my students and we made these collaborative tests part of the project itself each year. This gave students a voice in the learning process and a choice in which tools we used but it also taught them a process for teaching themselves about new technology tools and making collaborative evaluations, a valuable lesson itself.” — Tim Needles, Educator

Build Digital Literacy for College and Career

From our study, we know that students are frequently using AR at home. More than one-third (38%) of parents reported that their children currently use AR technology. Children that use AR use it very frequently, from multiple times a week (40%) to every day (38%). While students are clearly familiar with using AR for games and free-time activities, they may not have experience using them for learning.

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