Augmented Reality: The Future of EdTech

By: Drew Minock

Augmented reality is defined as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data.” (Wikipedia) We have discovered that augmented reality is much more than the definition describes – it is the future of educational technology.

It all started on March 21st at the MACUL Conference in Detroit when the great Leslie Fisher showed the $20 bill trick using an app called Aurasma. That was the moment that would change everything. I instantly saw the power and limitless possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR) in education.

Augmented reality allows us to put objects in the hands of our students that would have previously been impossible. Imagine a student who is learning about the solar system for the first time. In a traditional setting, the student might have had a few pictures in a textbook and may have created a project based on images and information from those static sources. Augmented reality allows students to harness the power of creating their very own solar system right there in front of them on their desk. The use of augmented reality has proven to increase engagement and keeps students on task for longer periods of time.

Augreal2There are several augmented reality applications available to download onto your mobile device, but few give you power to create your own experience like Aurasma. Aurasma is an open source application that allows the user to create their own augmented reality. This is the application we have used to engage our students in a new way of learning. We use the app Explain Everything to create short mini lessons for each math homework assignment. Using an Aurasma studio account, we overlay the mini lesson video onto the homework assignment. This allows those students who did not grasp the concept in class, or who need a quick refresh of the lesson, to still be successful on their homework assignment. There has been an obvious increase in the percentage of homework assignments returned and higher scores since I have started using augmented reality mini lessons on homework. Here is a classroom parent’s response to using Aurasma on homework assignments:

 “She loves the Aurasma application, she loves that she can hear YOUR explanations at any time“– it’s so much better than doing homework with me or her father. It has made that whole passive/aggressive fight about homework every night completely disappear.” This quote shows how augmented reality can change and enhance the way students learn today.”

Augmented reality allows the students to engage in, and create a magical learning experience that their classmates can interact with. Using Aurasma, the students can create augmented reality for various projects and assignments. This past year we had students recording video book reviews and tagging the video to the cover of the book. This allowed other students who were interested in the book to get a quick, peer-reviewed snapshot of it without even opening it.

Visible Thinking is one of our school initiatives at Eastover Elementary. The students are now using augmented reality to make learning more visible than ever before. One of the routines we use is called a Step Inside. The students write from the point of view of aAugreal3 character or person. In the past, students have constructed posters with their writing, and a drawing of the character. This year the students used Aurasma to act out and actually “step inside” the characters shoes. Each video was used as an overlay and their poster acted as the trigger image. Parents and visitors were in awe when the posters came to life like the paintings inside Hogwarts.

There are many other great engaging augmented reality apps to increase engagement in your classroom. Some great apps we recommend are AR Flashcards by Mitchlehan Media, Fetch! Lunch Rush! by PBS Kids, and NASA 3D Spacecraft. Our Planets! is  an upcoming app that we are excited to start using with students next school year!

Augmented reality is transforming the educational landscape. It gives students an up close look at objects like never before, and gives them the platform to be creative in their learning. The uses and possibilities of augmented reality in education are only limited by one’s imagination. Magical effect, limitless power, and increased engagement, is what makes augmented reality the future of educational technology.

Augreal4Drew Minock is an elementary teacher at Eastover Elementary in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. After graduating from Eastern Michigan University in 2010, he traveled to Shanghai, China and taught at an International Academy. Returning in 2011, he taught kindergarten and 3rd grade for Global Educational Excellence. He joined Eastover Elementary in Bloomfield Hills to teach 3rd grade in August of 2012 and is the Co-Founder of Two Guys and Some iPads and AR Detroit. Follow Drew on twitter @TechMinock and on Pinterest.

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