Thursday, July 10, 2014

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

When we think of augmented reality (or AR) we tend to think of video games in which players fully immerse themselves in the digital experience. While AR does stand for the augmentation of what users see in the "real world" with additional information, the point of mobile AR - the use of mobile devices to augment one's experience - is not to immerse participants in their devices but to give them a heightened sense of their surroundings.

During the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Conference in March, participants used their phones
Lucy Grant (Educational Technology
Consultant), Barbara Treacy (Director
of EDC's EdTech Leaders Online Program),
and Julie Evans participating
during the 2014 CoSN AR Experience.
(Photo provided by Heidi Larson)
to transform their surroundings during an Augmented Reality experience guided by Heidi Larson, Chris Dede, Matt Dunleavy, and a team of developers. Together the participants explored the benefits and challenges of the use of AR in classrooms, and were even able to sample their own AR history experience and discuss other AR experiences (i.e. for a social science experience, students could augment a town hall setting and take on the roles of voter, tax payer, and mayor). They found that students could benefit from AR by being able to study a topic in depth, work in teams, and learn more by teaching each other. Furthermore, teachers and chief technology officers may face challenges when it comes to building AR experiences but the payoff would be immense, as the experiences could be re-used from one year to the next.

While some AR experiences require time and a highly skilled team of developers, not all do. There are some simple versions that can just make presentations or pictures of students talk and show images or videos. Given this information, the options for AR use within the classroom are limitless and definitely worth exploring.

To learn more about the 2014 CoSN AR Experience, check out Heidi Larson's original article "Augmented Reality: Good for Schools?"

Heidi Larson specializes in virtual education, online collaboration, educational technology, and professional development. For over 10 years, she has advanced the efforts of EDC initiatives in these and other key aspects of education reform. Heidi is the State Outreach and Cross-REL/Technical Assistance Coordinator for the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands at EDC and the Ed Tech Community of Practice lead for the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund grantees. She is also developing online instructional modules about the use of social media in growing a business for EDC’s Social Technology Enabled Professional program. One of Heidi’s interests is how mobile technology and social media can benefit teaching and learning for educators and administrators, as well as students.