Augmented Reality: The Future of Education

Teachers have now a powerful tool in Augmented Reality. AR can motivate and engage students making the STEM and coding learning process faster, fun, and better than ever before.
Susan Fourtané

By 2025, two billion of the global population is going to be made up by the youngest generation: Generation Alpha, also known as the iGeneration. Generation Alpha are children born between 2010 and 2025.

This is the first generation entirely born in the 21st century. These children are considered to be the most technological-infused demographic up to date. 

Generation Alpha use technology, smartphones, tablets, and computers naturally. They haven't known life without the Internet or video games. Some of them live in smart homes and talk to a Smart Voice Assistant every morning before going to school.

They know about SpaceX and they want to live on Mars one day. These children were born along with iPhones, iPads, and applications. They don't know or can even imagine how life was without them.

"By 2025, Generation Alpha will number 2 billion globally. It will be the wealthiest, most educated, and technologically literate in history." -- Robert Hannah, Chief Operating Officer at Grant Thornton U.K.

Generation Alpha students are going to benefit from the emerging technology and innovations that are being incorporated into the classroom. Technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality (AR/VR/MR), robotics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are already changing education. 

Showing a record growth in 2018, the Augmented Reality market is going to be worth $61,39 billion by 2023, according to research firm Markets and Markets. Moreover, Augmented Reality is one of the 2019-2020 technology trends to watch. There is no doubt that Augmented Reality is here to stay and take over all the industries, including education and training. 

Augmented Reality technology in education

Educational institutions that use the latest technology in the classroom as well as in field trips are going to create a completely different learning experience opportunity for the Alpha children. And with it, they are going to contribute to a better preparation for the leaders of the future.  

Schools, educators, and educational institutions are going to find it challenging to cope with the demands of Generation Alpha children if they neglect to update themselves, their methodology, and curricula in order to adopt a new approach to education. 

Alpha children are accustomed to acquiring knowledge by doing, screen-touching, and experiencing. Schools need to provide an adequate environment that enhances this type of learning.  

This type of environment requires changes and a new approach to education at all levels. Schools and colleges should get ready by creating programs of study that require deep learning

Schools need to start preparing programs that are flexible enough to be adapted and modified quickly according to the young Alphas' inquisitive mind. 

According to Jenny Coetzee, career educator and founding member of the ADvTECH Group's prestigious Crawford School La Lucia, "these children are the most connected, educated, and sophisticated generation ever, so when educating, a school should provide an environment that enhances learning for these digital integrators." 

The right way to teach the young Alphas, thus, is by developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It is going to be important for Generation Alpha children to be able to see problems from different perspectives in order to make the best possible decisions. This is going to constitute one of the pillars in their future shared with AI robots and Quantum computers. 

Teamwork will let them analyze possible alternative solutions according to different viewpoints, and then make decisions based on their own personal and individual critical thinking.

Providing an engaging learning experience is paramount for the success of any educational institution, and in particular, the success of the educator.

Thanks to emerging technologies such as Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality (AR/VR/MR) the classroom today can incorporate AR and VR content that can make learning more efficient, faster, and much more fun. From mathematics to chemistry to biology with some creativity AR can be incorporated to practically any subject. 

Some companies such as Indestry, an award-winning Augmented Reality experiences for entertainment, marketing, and education company, can certainly bring the dinosaur experience to the classroom in the same way it did for Jurassic Park at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. 

In other words, this is one of the best ways an educator can use to engage and motivate students. By using tools and applications especially designed to create AR and VR content and activities even with little or no programming skills, creating an exciting world within the classroom becomes a piece of cake. 

Augmented Reality technology expands the physical world; it adds layers of digital information onto what we can see with the naked eye. It augments our surrounding by adding sound, video, and graphics.

On the other hand, Virtual Reality creates a completely different environment, an artificial world that replaces the real one and in which we can immerse ourselves like characters do as their avatars in Steven Spielberg's movie Ready Player One.  

When the term Augmented Reality was coined back in 1990, some of the first commercial uses were, of course, in television and military. However, since then the AR technology has significantly evolved and today we see Augmented Reality applications in every industry with reported benefits from its users, including education.  

Learning benefits of Augmented Reality in education 

Augmented Reality applications in education provide new ways of teaching and learning, bridging the gap between the virtual and real world. The benefits of AR in education are increasingly being recognized by researchers on the topic. 

Researchers have reported on the positive impact that Augmented Reality experiences have on learners as compared to non-AR ones: 

  • Increased content understanding 

  • Learning spatial structure and function 

  • Learning language associations 

  • Long-term memory retention 

  • Improved physical task performance 

  • Improved collaboration 

  • Increased student motivation

The researchers also reported just a few learning detriments from Augmented Reality, all of which can successfully be avoided: 

  • Attention tunneling 

  • Usability difficulties 

  • Ineffective classroom integration

  • Learner differences 

AR Twitter chat: Strategies to implement Augmented Reality in the classroom

Jamie Donally is a former math teacher and district-level technology coordinator now turned into an independent education consultant.

She believes that using AR/VR in the classroom is not just for entertainment but also about enhancing lessons and amplifying students' experiences through immersive virtual field trips. 

She is the author of Learning Transported where she explores the fears and hurdles of immersive-reality integration in the classroom and encourages teachers to implement these new technologies in their lessons.

She also runs a weekly Twitter chat about integrating AR/VR in education where teachers can ask questions and get into the discussion as well as getting advice or the best strategies on how to better start planning and implementing their AR lessons.


AR for the teacher: Tools and platforms to create AR content in the classroom 

Augmented Reality tools let students not only engage with the technology but also it gives them the possibility to create their own content.

This is paramount in order to promote 21st-century skills such as creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, analysis, coding, and iterative testing, the process of basing tests on insights gathered from previous tests in order to make changes gradually and which are evidence-based. 

EBSCOa pioneer in the library services industry, has compiled ten well selected Augmented Reality for the classroom that can enhance and personalize learning for K-12 students. Two on the list that are multi-platform and well suited for all ages are the following for anyone to have a tester start: 

  • CoSpaces Edu: This is a design tool that allows students with coding experience to create virtual 3D worlds. They can also create infographics and tell stories through virtual exhibits and tours. With CoSpaces Edu, the teachers create a class and post assignments. Images and 360-degree photos can be uploaded, and a companion application is available.

  • MERGE CubeThis is a mobile tool, an AR multi-platform tool that is like holding a hologram in your hand. Depending on the MERGE's applications that you download it can become many different things. With Merge Cube, teachers can create STEM lessons and activities or experience science or history, and students can also develop the content, make applications, and see their creative products come to life in AR. This is a great way to get students to see the results of what they create, a very first step to motivate future developers. It is also possible to use Google Sky Map to have a cool close up to stars and planets in this hand-held planetarium.  

There are more tools in the compiled list above, enough for every classroom and every teaching need. Now get your imagination ready, plan your next lesson, and have fun. Because teaching and learning can always be fun when adding some AR technology magic. 

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