This blog post is written by our partner Course Merchant who is hosting a series of free face-to-face workshops – The Rise and Rise of Online Learning – that talks attendees through the latest technology being used by training organizations, shows hands-on examples of what this tech can do, and teaches ways of evaluating its use for their businesses. This post offers a taste of one of the topics in the workshop: Augmented Reality (AR).
Augmented Reality: What is it?
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes computer-generated images and animations on top of real-world views. Its best-known use to the general public is probably the Pokémon Go game, in which players use their smartphone cameras to view their surroundings and try to catch Pokémon that are superimposed there by the software. AR is increasingly used in educational settings to superimpose learning materials over real-world views.
For example, in the photo below the software recognizes the medical model and overlays instructional information onto the tablet screen.
Furthermore, here is an example of AR being used to illustrate some chemical bonding:
AR is different from VR (Virtual Reality). In VR, the user wears a headset that shuts them off from their surroundings and is immersed in an entirely computer-generated world. VR simulations are very useful in education, though the hardware can be expensive, and the cost of developing VR simulations can be high. By contrast, AR can be viewed on smartphones and tablets with the naked eye and does not require special hardware.
The 2 Main Types of AR: Marker-Based & Location-Based
Marker-based AR works by image recognition. Markers in an image, such as QR codes, will launch an AR app that overlays digital information that moves with the marker as the camera moves. Some AR software can recognize real-life 3D objects too.
Location-based AR doesn’t need markers; instead, it used a device’s GPS to establish the user’s location and creates AR objects there. The software also uses the device’s accelerometer and compass so that you can ‘look around’ to see the AR objects in your vicinity. Pokémon Go is an example of location-based AR.
AR can increase learner engagement by letting learners participate more proactively and authentically with the learning content, rather than being passive recipients of information. They are able to explore the learning content themselves, which can make them feel more empowered.
There are quite a few software products that enable educators to create their own AR lessons. Examples include Zappar and Vuforia. To learn more about AR, join us for one of our workshops, during which you can try out some AR for yourself!