The Role of Augmented Reality (AR) in Adding Life to Learning

[Approximate Reading Time : 4 mins]

Augmented reality (AR) is haute, emerging, and, eminently topical. In use since the early 1990s in the US Air Force, and later foraying into the commercial space in entertainment and gaming, AR subsequently took root in various industries, from education and medicine to business and entertainment.

So what exactly is augmented reality? As Wikipedia defines it: “Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities. . . . This experience is seamlessly interwoven with the physical world such that it is perceived as an immersive aspect of the real environment.”

Let’s look at some classroom examples.

Science is a veritable treasure trove for AR. Students can enter a beehive via AR, explore its inner workings, and understand how bees collaborate to support their community. Medical students can use AR to study human anatomy, instead of a physical cadaver.

Geography, language, history, astronomy, architecture, engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, zoology can all be brought “home” to the student via experiential AR. As can art—be it drawing, coloring, painting, or sculpture—and even the fine arts: piano, guitar, and so on. Augmented reality spans the universe, literally! It is holistic in its application.

In the earlier paragraph, we used the word “home.” This one word reverberates with meaning in 2020–2021 and probably will continue to resonate with people going forward. COVID-19—which began as an outbreak and progressed rapidly to an epidemic and finally spread its tentacles worldwide as a pandemic—has taken on a chronology of its own. Time is now divided into pre-pandemic and pandemic eras, and this one single contagion has propelled people indoors—into their own homes. Work from home, study from home, and so on underpin the new normal.

In this environment, technology-enabled education has been a savior and catalyst for the learning industry and learners, both in terms of accessibility and engagement. Bringing home a deep learning experience online so that learners remain interested in the subject, even as they remain rooted in their remote locations, has been an enormous challenge for educators, and one that they have tackled with technology.

Tech-ed and e-learning are literally having their moment in the COVID-19 pandemic, and any and all AR apps are becoming game-changers in real-time experiential learning. In times defined by distancing and isolation, augmented reality apps and their brethren are helping humans interact, energize, create, and collaborate and providing comfort and freedom en route. The future then is brimming with possibility for augmented reality!

Let us now examine three key areas of implementation of AR with maximum impact: the fields of school education, education in engineering, and education in medicine.

AR in School Education

Augmented reality is best used strategically as a complementary/supplementary tool to enhance the learning experience and not necessarily to replace all traditional pedagogy in school education. For example, Disney’s coloring book app is one of the best AR apps for nursery-age children. It provides a perfect bridge between real-world activities and digital enhancements, feeding an explosion of creative expression at the earliest in the child’s learning curve. Then, there is Google Sky Map that opens up the solar system with the Android phone. Students can locate planets, stellar bodies, and constellations with high-quality images.

AR in Engineering Studies

Basic engineering subjects such as engineering mechanics and basics of electronics are accessible via AR apps.

Students of engineering can assemble a product using AR glasses with automated audio-aided instructions and videos to guide them.

Mechanical engineering students can experience hands-on learning by experiencing turbofan engines via AR in the comfort of their educational institutions.

AR in Medical Studies

AR in medicine and healthcare has possibly had the biggest traction and greatest impact. Apps like Complete Anatomy, HoloAnatomy, Anatomy 4D, HoloLens enable students to study the inner workings of the human body in minutiae and in motion. Removing bones, watching muscle movements, studying bone layers, the heartbeat, all this and more are feasible with AR.

These are just some glimpses of the huge potential of AR in learning.

Let us examine the benefits of AR for both the learners and teachers.

For Learners

  • Visual experiences enable higher absorption of learning
  • An immersive, inclusive, interactive experience that simplifies concepts and helps retention
  • Dynamic engagement creates interest and motivation and enhances performance and productivity
  • Safe environment for practical training
  • Fosters creativity and imagination

For Teachers

  • Effective teaching and learning
  • Time saving
  • Cost effective
  • Collaborative
  • Mentoring and guiding vis-à-vis ordering or directing
  • Creating and sustaining excitement and engagement
  • Experiential, interactive, fruitful classes

To quote Steve Dann, an AR expert and augmented reality evangelist, “I think that after this pandemic is over certain things will never be the same again and I believe that it will definitely drive the adoption and utilization of AR and VR in the healthcare and educational fields.”

Augmented reality is here to stay, as tech-enabled learning gains momentum.

To know about Amnet’s tech-enabled education publishing services, do visit to engage with our experts.

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