Augmented reality

How Augmented Reality Can Work in Your Classroom

Posted in Blog on 20 August 2015

What is Augmented Reality or AR, as it has become more widely known as? AR is a type of immersive learning environment that leverages mobile devices and multi-media and content to enrich and authenticate learning experiences.

Now that’s a mouthful! In simpler terms, it’s just plain cool. Here’s a great example that shows why:

You are the Biology I instructor. You need a way for students to use technology in your classroom, while accessing different types of content. Imagine if you had a series of posters that illustrate the life cycle of a cell. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to show 3-dimensional models of the cell? What about a video that showed the lifecycle of a cell? Perhaps even some quizzes to check student knowledge, or some images that labeled the cell?

Well, with AR all of that and more is possible!

AR allows you to augment the physical environment with text, graphics, audio, video, 3D models and more. These immersive learning experiences provide educators with novel teaching tools and transform learning for students.

From classes on Construction Safety to understanding the American Revolution, educators have started exploring the potential of enabling AR to expand the learning universe and engage their students.

Let’s see 3 ways AR can work in your classroom:

  1. Embed Story Information: Art students could use AR to learn about the history and creation story behind every piece they need to study.
  2. Field Trips and Exploration: Architecture students do a lot of site visits. Imagine being able to view important buildings in 3D, and being able to walk around and absorb key features and structural information without having to take the entire class there!
  3. Dive Deep for Understanding: Imagine creating an AR museum for Microbiologists. Every virus, bacteria, fungus and algae displayed in the form of cards. But even better, your microbiology students can view the card through their AR app and visualize the organism in 3D, peel off layers and bring them to scaled life for easy retention and understanding.

The potential power of AR as a learning tool is its ability “to enable students to see the world around them in new ways and engage with realistic issues in a context with which the students are already connected” (Klopfer & Sheldon, 2010, p. 86).

Here are some great reasons why AR should be part of your instructional toolset:

  1. Small group work – AR allows you to break up students into small groups to focus on specific areas of strengths and weaknesses or content areas
  2. Collaboration – AR allows students to work together to solve problems and learn about various topics
  3. Expand beyond your physical classroom – AR allows instructors to expand learning beyond their 4 walls. Immersive instruction allows for better transfer and retention of knowledge.
  4. Increase use of technology and mobile devices – AR makes it easy for instructors to promote the use of mobile devices for instructional purposes.

Studies have shown that immersive instruction and learning allows for multiple perspectives, situated learning and transfer of knowledge. AR allows for rich content to be shared in a way that is social, multiple modalities, and provides for self-directed, active learning. Bruner, Driscoll, and Piaget all recognize the importance of this constructivist learning theory and the impact on learning.

By embedding these multiple perspectives within the environment and contextualizing them within a problem-based narrative, AR also affords educators the ability to leverage physical space as an additional layer of content for students to observe, manipulate and analyze (Perry et al., 2008; Squire et al., 2007).

In other words, augmenting the physical environment with digital information transforms that environment into a venue for multiple, otherwise unrealized learning opportunities. (Facer et al., 2004; Klopfer, 2008; Klopfer & Squire, 2008; Liestol, 2011; Morrison et al., 2009; Schmalstieg, & Wagner, 2007; Squire et al., 2007).

Let technology make your job easier! AR can do that!



Klopfer, E., & Sheldon, J. (2010). Augmenting your own reality: Student authoring of

science-based augmented reality games. New Directions for Youth Development,

128 (Winter), 85–94.

Facer, K., Joiner, R., Stanton, D., Reid, J., Hull, R., & Kirk, D. (2004). Savannah:

mobile gaming and learning? Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20, 399-409.

Klopfer, E. (2008). Augmented learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

* Klopfer, E., & Squire, K. (2008). Environmental Detectives – the development of an

augmented reality platform for environmental simulations. Educational Technology

Research and Development, 56 (2), 203-228.

Liestol, G. (2011). Learning through situated simulations: Exploring mobile augmented reality. Research Bulletin 1, EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. Boulder, CO. Retrieved from

Morrison, A., Oulasvirta, A., Peltonen, P., Lemmela, S. Jacucci, G., Reitmayr, G, Nasanen, J., & Juustila, A. (2009). Like bees around the hive: a comparative study of a mobile augmented reality map. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Retrieved from

Schmalstieg, D., & Wagner, D. (2007). Experiences with handheld augmented reality. In Proceedings of 6th IEEE and ACM International Symposium on Mixed and

Augmented Reality, Japan, 3–15.

* Squire, K., & Jan, M. (2007). Mad city mystery: Developing scientific argumentation

skills with a place-based augmented reality game on handheld computers. Journal of

Science Education and Technology, 16 (1), 5-29.

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