Augmented reality education: 5 solutions for more immersive learning

By Cristina Ferrandez

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing education up to date with technological developments was high on the agenda for many educators. Through technologies from artificial intelligence (AI) to virtual reality (VR) to augmented reality education (AR), future-forward teachers and training managers have been pioneering new learning methodologies for quite some time. 

However, as the world went into lockdown and remote learning and teaching became the norm rather than the exception, the need to use technology to enhance learning became critical for almost every educator. Now, even as in-person learning gradually returns, the issue of how to motivate disinterested students and workers remains.

Ultimately, the pandemic has shown that the way we learn, both in education institutions and on the job, has long been outdated compared to the digitally-focused way we interact with other parts of our lives. Solving this disconnect is a long-term task, but to bring learning up to date rapidly, one solution may be to use augmented reality education solutions.

Why augmented reality education?

The most obvious reason why augmented reality, a technology that superimposes visual elements onto the real world, deserves a place in education is that learners want AR.

About 9 in 10 students say they’d attend class more often if interactive technology were available, with 72% saying they are more likely to take part in AR-powered learning. Additionally, more than 6 in 10 US consumers believe that AR would benefit workplace learning. 

It’s not just that AR makes learning more attractive to individuals. It also makes it easier to learn. Over two-thirds of students report improved understanding of concepts through interactive learning. This is not surprising considering that hands-on learning has been proven to be very effective at helping students grasp topics. 

AR can also prove invaluable for students and employees in retaining information. That is because immersive and interactive content makes for a memorable experience, aiding information recall.

5 augmented reality education solutions

From augmented textbooks to hands-on training tools to location portals, there are plenty of augmented reality education solutions to choose from. Here are a few options:

1. AR educational materials

Textbooks are boring — it’s a fact. Whether they’re too long or poorly written, few people enjoy learning via a textbook. 

Although the debate about whether textbooks are becoming obsolete has proponents on both sides, it may be possible to please both camps: keep textbooks but enhance them with AR. 

With AR, teachers can bring textbooks, as well as other educational materials such as worksheets, to life, by offering access to supplemental information, be it photos, videos, quizzes, or games. 

Augmented textbooks are not yet common, but you can nevertheless find examples across the world, including Japan, where the publishing house Tokyo Shoseki is making textbooks that support AR apps. By pointing their smartphone at a textbook that teaches English, students can bring characters to life and watch them converse in the language they are trying to master. 

2. Hands-on training tools

For most occupations, theoretical knowledge can never really replace practical experience. AR gives students a way to gain this experience, maximising retention while keeping costs to a bare minimum. 

For example, medical students can create models of human bodies with AR to learn anatomy inside out, and bring surgery simulations into the operating room for a live overlay of the surgery they’re about to perform. 

Similarly, in vocational training, AR can provide tradespeople with step-by-step instructions when practising new skills, overlaid on top of equipment or machinery. A person training to become an electrician, for instance, could use AR to see exactly what they need to do to rewire a house safely. 

The same concept applies to employee training. No longer restricted to training guides or videos, employees can use real-time experiential learning to complete each step of an unfamiliar task with more accuracy and precision. This not only speeds up the learning process, but also cuts down on financial costs as mentors and experts can get on with their own jobs. 

In the near future, AR training will become even easier and more effective thanks to the ongoing development of smartglasses that will bring advanced AR capability into almost any setting.

3. Augmented reports

Lengthy paper reports are just as likely to become unread “shelfware” as to actually get read, a situation that leaves critical information ignored. AR solves this problem by making dense educational information more engaging and interactive. 

Poplar Studio worked with Bayer to improve their customer service by simplifying how their customers — farmers — can view their crop reports. Although Bayer’s customers are regularly sent paper reports, these feature an AR image tracker that triggers an AR experience when scanned. Apart from being easier to see and understand, the AR custom crop report makes sharing recommendations and observations much simpler, too.

4. Location portals 

Field trips are an excellent way for students to acquire authentic experiences and absorb information without getting bored. However, due to time and money constraints, going on multiple field trips each year is not realistic for most students or educational institutions. Fortunately, while visiting new locations physically may not always be an option, doing so virtually certainly is. 

Using AR, teachers can “transport” students to real-life locations and give them context-rich experiences of places they might otherwise only see in textbooks. 

Whether it’s a museum, an ancient monument, a natural attraction, or a city, students will find it easier to remember all the details if they get to explore the location as if they were really there. 

For instance, if students were learning about the three iconic Sohos of the world, rather than just reading about them in a textbook or watching a video about them, they could visit all three neighbourhoods in London, New York, and Hong Kong virtually by loading the Culture Trip’s Facebook filters, designed by Poplar Studio, on their phone.

5. Gamified tours 

AR, and in particular gamified augmented tours, has its place in on-site educational trips too. 

On field trips, gamified tours can offer people additional layers of information about a location, such as historical pictures and other media. For example, in 2019, people visiting the Roman Baths in Bath could hold up their smartphones to see a reconstruction of the Baths at important moments in history. The augmented scenes included the legendary King Bladud coming upon the Sacred springs, Roman decay, and the excavation and reconstruction of the baths in Victorian times. 

For educators that want to take gamified tours a step further, adding treasure hunts can help engage even the least motivated students on a field trip. Here, students would go around a specific site, scanning different images to activate AR experiences.

Augmented reality education is the future

Type in “learning is boring” into Google, and you will get a ton of results lamenting the fact that the critical task of improving skills and knowledge is often far less compelling than it deserves to be. This is true for both students and employees. Unfortunately, many educators and companies are happy to use the same regurgitated content, which can lead to kids dropping out of school and employees failing to complete training courses.

However, pushed both by people’s dissatisfaction with this status quo and digital transformation catalysed by the pandemic, change is now inevitable. Schools, universities, and companies are beginning to integrate interactive technology, including AR, into their curriculum — with great results. 

Still not sure how to make augmented reality education a reality at your department or institution? Get in touch with the team at Poplar Studio today, and we will help you find the perfect augmented reality education solution. 

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