Michalitsa Papasotiriou is an accomplished educational leader and Head of Educational Partnerships in Technokids, Greece. For more than 17 years, Mrs. Papasotiriou has been spearheading the creation of innovative and game-based learning curricula for over 50% of the private schools across Greece and Cyprus. Renowned for her groundbreaking work in advancing technological education for students of all ages, Mrs. Papasotiriou has received numerous accolades for her contributions to the field. She is a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Fellow, and Trainer and holds the prestigious Microsoft Certified Educator certification. Mrs. Papasotiriou is also a sought-after keynote speaker at scientific conferences, where she shares her insights on the role of technology in education.
One of my students once exclaimed, “This book is like magic!”. As an educator, I can attest that nothing is more rewarding than hearing students’ amazement with educational materials. How I managed this, you may ask? Well, I can assure you that I’m not a magician! I am, however, a big advocate for Augmented Reality-based learning!
In today’s world, technology has become an indispensable part of students’ education, particularly after the pandemic. Combined with stunningly new research reporting students’ attention span has decreased to just a few seconds. I had to stop and ask myself: How do I develop a curriculum that’s highly educational yet fun and exciting for K-12 students?
After conducting extensive research, I discovered various Augmented Reality (AR) applications in the educational sector. That’s when a light bulb went on. I instantly started thinking: How can I use AR to enrich my students’ workbooks? Which program should I use? Does it fulfill the required educational standards? How are my students going to react? Will they be receptive to the benefits of AR? What new skills will they be able to gain?
In this article, I’ll share with you everything I learned about implementing AR in K-12 education. I will also list some useful practical tips for educators so that you can also create curriculums that also feel like magic!
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality is a powerful technological tool. It has a wide range of applications spreading across the gaming, advertising, retail, healthcare, and educational sectors. AR overlays digital information, such as images, text, or 3D models, onto the real world. This is typically achieved using a device with a camera and a screen, like a smartphone or a tablet.
For example, using an AR program I could easily transform traditional workbooks into interactive ones, where my students could scan a page and see a 3D hero. In some sections, I built an image sampling of the homework they had to do, and in others, I added a video teaching them coding skills.
How to utilize AR to design interactive learning experiences:
Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to revolutionize education by providing immersive and interactive learning experiences. Especially in K-12 education, it enables students to interact with digital content, engage in exciting activities, and gain new skills quickly and effortlessly. Here’re some ways educators can utilize AR to design interactive learning experiences:
- Interactive textbooks/Workbooks: Use AR to create interactive textbooks/workbooks using multimedia content where students can interact with digital content in real time. With the help of 3D models and animations, you can illustrate key concepts and simplify complex concepts.
- Games and quizzes: Use AR to create educational games and quizzes, which let’s face it, are more engaging than traditional methods. You can translate your learning goals into puzzles, challenges, and even scavenger hunts, where students learn new information by exploring their surroundings and scanning objects to uncover hidden information. Non-surprisingly, even math problems can be solved with AR!
- Visualize abstract concepts: Use AR to help students visualize, memorize, and better understand abstract concepts. For example, you can develop 3D models of objects, to teach students about the human body and its organs.
- Simulate real-life scenarios: With AR you can simulate a surgery, a chemistry experiment, a volcano eruption, or even teach students foreign languages using real-life scenarios. For example, you can overlay virtual foreign street signs or restaurant menus in a real-world setting to teach students new languages, while developing problem-solving skills.
- Field trips and virtual tours: Take your students to virtual field trips and tours and empower them to explore new places in a more interactive way. The best application of this functionality is used to teach students history. You can bring historical events and figures to life by overlaying digital content on top of real-world locations or artifacts so that students can explore ancient ruins or interact with historical figures.
- Create tailored AR content: Students can create their own AR content (e.g., digital stories, interactive projects, etc.) to create a personalized learning experience. Astonishingly, some AR apps adjust the difficulty of a lesson based on the student’s performance and abilities.
- Accessibility: AR makes learning more accessible and inclusive to students with disabilities. By using AR audio or visual cues, you can create educational (and fun!) content for students with visual or hearing impairments.
Tips for educators: What to consider before integrating AR into your classroom
If used correctly, AR is a revolutionary tool that can enhance and support learning. If you’re an educator eager to successfully integrate AR into your classroom, then you need to be aware of the following pitfalls:
- Identify learning goals: Start by identifying the learning goals you want to reach with the help of AR. What do you hope to achieve? Failing to consider this may result in AR becoming a novelty or distraction for students.
- Select appropriate AR tools: There are many AR tools available, and you should select the one that best fits your learning goals and students’ needs. Other factors to consider are costs, accessibility, and ease of use.
- Content development: Develop AR content that is aligned with your learning goals and students’ needs. AR content should be interactive, and engaging, and provide opportunities for students to explore digital content in real-world scenarios.
- Integrate AR into lesson plans: Integrating AR into lesson plans should be done in a supportive way. For most students, it might be a new experience, so make sure to provide them with guidance and feedback throughout the lessons.
- Assess effectiveness: Maximize the success of AR by evaluating the effectiveness of your lessons in terms of goals achievement. Use regular assessments, surveys, and feedback to refine the AR use and identify improvement areas.
Final remarks and key takeaways
The most important aspect of AR in education is its ability to make learning more interactive and immersive, allowing students to explore concepts in a more tangible and memorable way. It empowers educators to create a more dynamic learning environment that drastically improves student learning outcomes.
Going beyond educational curriculums, AR helps students to develop important social and communication skills. It provides opportunities for them to work collaboratively and share new experiences, which deepens their relationships.
In conclusion, although AR is not real magic, it sure does feel like that to students. When I developed my first AR workbooks, I never imagined the excitement and enthusiasm they would show. Therefore, I do encourage all K-12 educators to explore the new possibilities AR offers and adopt their learning methods into the new normal.