OK, so what is AR anyway? Learn more about it and how to leverage it in your classroom.


Pokémon GO. Snapchat. Instagram.

Snapchat filters launched in 2015. Just a couple of summers ago, Pokémon GO was one of the hottest mobile apps. In 2017, Instagram filters emerged. Augmented reality (AR) is a growing technology field that educators can leverage in order to better teach and engage their students in the classroom.

Let’s define it.

AR is a mashup between virtual reality and real, regular, in-person reality. AR layers computer-generated images, videos, sounds, etc. onto existing reality to change the way we interact with the environment. It’s most commonly experience through apps on mobile devices. On the other hand, virtual reality is when users are immersed in an artificial, computer-generated environment to make them feel like they’re really there. Some of the earliest uses of AR was in video games!

Let’s use it.

AR can be used in the classroom to give students the opportunity to see and learn the content differently. If you’ve ever seen a sports replay, you’ve most likely seen the commentators display the play on top of the field — that’s AR. So, how can educators use this technology tool?

Imagine this: Instead of having to do practice problem after practice problem with your students, they could position their phones over a math problem, and a video would pop up to explain the steps to complete the problem. Check out this video that shows it’s possible.

Ask your local museum to see if they use AR to bring their exhibits to life. Yes, that’s a real thing. Visitors can use their mobile devices to go on self-guided tours throughout the exhibits. Historical figures, extinct organisms, and even features from outer space come to life and help illustrate these concepts for our students. There are apps out there that allow you to “see” inside the human body, play trivia games, etc. (Gone are the headsets of yesteryear!)

Let’s make it.
If there isn’t already an AR resource for you to use in your classroom, why not create it? Better yet, why not encourage your students to do the creating? Platforms like HP Reveal, Metaverse Studio, and ZapWorks are all easy to use and free, to a certain extent. If you’d like additional features, you’ll have to pay a small fee. Need some ideas on what to create? Think about your next science fair. What if instead of doing a scientific report, students create AR presentations about their experiments and their outcomes? Got a new tool in your manufacturing class that requires step-by-step directions? Create an overlay document (or video) that outlines best practices. Teach your students how to create their own AR business cards with professional information to distribute to employers.

Let’s not overdo it.
As with all technology, it’s important to strike a balance. Using AR in the classroom for the sake of using AR isn’t the best route. Students may think it’s cool at first, but they’ll soon grow tired of it if there isn’t a meaningful purpose to the experience.

1 Comment

  • Tim Ihms says:

    Thanks for explaining what augmented reality is and some possibilities for classroom use. I especially enjoyed the idea of encouraging our students to create. A good article revealing exciting possibilities.

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