5 Fresh Ideas for Introducing Augmented Reality in the Classroom
Even if you've never heard the term "augmented reality," you probably saw a highly public demonstration of it in your neighborhood during the Pokémon Go fad of 2016. In the popular augmented reality game, players use their phones to "find" and train characters that appear to be present in the player's real world. Augmented reality is just that - reality that is enhanced, or augmented, by an overlay of digital objects onto our "real" world. This trend is accelerating, and you can take advantage of it to support student learning in your classroom. Here are five ways to introduce augmented reality in the classroom.
1. Introduce AR as Another Edtech Tool
When considering how to introduce augmented reality in your classroom, make sure you set the same tone as with other Edtech tools: It's about the learning, not just having the bells and whistles available. Communicate this explicitly to students and make it evident when using technology tools.
For example, anybody can just "have fun" during a lesson by placing a funny creature in the classroom for students to find with their mobile devices. Technology as an activity may be fun, but usually doesn't appropriately keep the focus on learning objectives. Now, imagine if you are discussing, say, trench warfare in World War I during a 10th grade history lesson. You could augment the discussion by setting up a no man's land in the classroom and virtually placing a German and British soldier there to tell their stories about what trench warfare was like. Now you're using technology as a tool to support the objective for the lesson.
2. Augmented Reality Field Trip
Augmented reality field trips are slightly different from "virtual" field trips in that a virtual field trip usually takes place in the classroom and students travel "virtually" to a place of interest using a virtual reality app or a virtual tool on the web. Augmented reality field trips can take place in the off-campus physical location but are enhanced by items and experiences pre-planned by the teacher (or students!)
Using the Metaverse app, teachers created an augmented field trip at Nafplio castle in Greece, in which students dressed for the middle ages and solved augmented reality puzzles and challenges based on a story that had taken place at the castle during that time period. Just imagine what you could do. Does your class ever visit a local museum? Tour a local government facility? How could you augment this experience and support the learning?
3. The 21st Century Worksheet
The seat work of your youth is dead. You can bury it forever in your classroom by augmenting those old worksheets. Interactive print features allow you to project items and resources from traditional print worksheets. For example, once you have added digital resources onto your traditional worksheet, a student can be provided with access to videos, formative assessment checkpoints, maps, links to podcasts, and more just by using a mobile device.
Again, the possibilities are endless. Imagine you have assigned a character worksheet or guided notes from a Shakespearean classic, such as Hamlet. One line from the worksheet could link to The Hamlet Podcast (yes, there's a Hamlet podcast!) Another might link to a virtual tour of the Globe Theatre. Your students could also find items of interest to share with the class, linked to certain concepts or ideas. Instead of a staid old worksheet, an augmented reality landscape emerges, increasing student engagement with a centuries-old topic.
4. Your Classroom as an Escape Room
I did an escape room for the first time over the holidays this year. Our family had a ton of fun finding clues, solving puzzles, and working together to win the game. Augmented reality makes it possible for you to turn your own classroom into an escape room in any subject area. Some keep it simple, creating digital puzzle boxes for students to solve, some are creating more in-depth "breakout"-style experiences. Either way, these are fun and engaging ways to remain objective-focused while building interpersonal and content-related skills. Your kids will love it.
5. Students Can Create Their Own Worlds
For many students, learning how to code can be a daunting task. Where do you start? From the basic elements of Scratch to the complexities of Swift, learning a coding language takes time and effort and is not everyone's cup of tea. Your students can create augmented worlds on their own to share with their classmates and families without having to know a single line of code.
Imagine that you are in a middle or high school science class. What if each student in the class augmented the periodic table by sharing interesting items related to their selected elements with the rest of the class? What a great way to make the periodic table come alive during a single class period. Students could also create a simple scavenger hunt each other's classes or for their family to do at home. Encourage creativity and you will be amazed at what they come up with.
Start Simply, Stay Focused on Learning
As with all initiatives, you don't have to augment all your units and resources all at once. That's overwhelming. Start small, augmenting a worksheet here and a lesson there. Have the courage to turn students loose on an augmented scavenger hunt or other project every now and then. As long as you let the objectives drive the use of the tool, the learning gains should augment right alongside your initiative.
What are your thoughts on augmented reality in the classroom? Tell us on Twitter @Schoology