It’s been a while since schools began to try integrating informatics devices into the classroom; first as specific courses, then for small work within the traditional courses. Yet, in this day and age, when some kids have tablets before learning to read, and read eBooks before reading printed books, it is clear that schools must find a way to use the resources and facilities offered by digital information, in a physical setting. This use of computer-generated sensations in an actual environment is called Augmented Reality (AR). There’s even a wiki for it!
For Judy Bloxham, “educators have a duty to educate for the real world and make use of future technology that will be part of that world.” She argues that most sectors, from marketing to finance and industry, already use the opportunities inferred by digital devices, and it is necessary for education to massively invest in this area. Indeed, most students will have to use such devices daily in their workplace, and many of them already do in their daily lives.
The use of augmented reality in educational settings is a disruptive innovation that can deeply alter traditional methods, especially when applied to the primary school environment. An interaction with an iPAD and a recorded teaching session can help involve the child’s participation, as can be seen in this video. This is the difference between AR and normative digital content: the AR is adapted to a specific marker and a specific location that make it an interactive actual experience adapted to a personalized need or to a modeled environment.
AR can be used to give mini homework lessons, to put in common reviews or essays made by students, or for social content, such as an interactive photo wall.
The spatial ability of augmented reality can go as far as a virtual 3D environment, like the one presented in this paper, introduced to learn mathematics and geometry in a less abstract way.
There are already a load of apps and a lot of projects looking to find opportunities in the AR market, and it’s sometimes hard to separate the trendy, ephemeral artifact from the innovative shift. It is also difficult to find the app adapted to a personalized classroom setting, and to visualize, test and review its use. And, of course, this discussion only concerns a certain number of developed countries and can’t in any way be seen as a global educational revolution or even an implementation replacing the old model. Yet, you shouldn’t underestimate this trend: AR in education is becoming a unique way for students to create, share, interact and explain; but as it is a thoroughly new way of teaching, it must be introduced and explained in an appropriate way and not just popularized as if it were a mere random novelty.