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Implications for teaching and learning

Page history last edited by lmoorman@... 12 years, 2 months ago


"For many of those interested in AR, one of its most important characteristics is the way in which it makes possible a transformation of the focus of interaction. The interactive system is no longer a precise location, but the whole environment; interaction is no longer simply a face-to-screen exchange, but dissolves itself in the surrounding space and objects. Using an information system is no longer exclusively a conscious and intentional act."   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality




The potential for AR applications in education is being explored, however there is early adoption in K-12 and post-secondary classrooms, and in centres of learning such as natural science museums. The military is more advanced, having investigated instructional design models for best learning with AR in order to train their personnel. One of the most appealing aspects of AR is that complex systems and constructs can be represented visually, in three dimensions, with multiple perspectives, and therefore objects can be quite life-like.  This element allows for situated learning scenarios, whereby the learner is interacting with realistic elements, yet with less risk than a true reality might offer. For military and policing organizations, this is extremely important, and changes the way that personnel will be trained.


Dimensions of Learning: 3D vs 2D

Often instructors face the challenge of using 2D resources to teach what students actually see and experience in 3D (think of paper maps representing the world).  Students have to interpret or translate their original knowledge to a flat abstract representation, and then translate back to 3D to make connections to their own experience. For many students without strong inherent spatial ability, the ideas being taught can be lost in the change in dimensions. AR presents a means of maintaining the integrity of the objects or world being studied (frogs in biology, geological structures or formations, engineering designs) and thus facilitates teaching and learning in a manner consistent with the experience of the students. It also allows for a seamless integration between real world, a virtual environment and augmented information. 


Experiential, situated learning

A benefit of the AR environment over a virtual or simulated environment is the "sense of presence" described by Mantovani (2003). The sense describes the feeling that participants have had an actual experience and remember it as an actual event, not a simulated, computer generated event. Mantovani suggests the connections made to previous knowledge are stronger because AR provides a balance of immersion and real interaction.  Sastry and Boyd state that the strength of the sense of presence is most influenced by the level of interaction experienced, and AR provides a user controlled perspective, as in reality. 


For many instructional tasks that would involve putting students at risk to provide situated, experiential learning, AR gives the realistic context and interactivity, without threat or safety concerns. This is valuable in many areas of education, from emergency response, medical and military training, and distant planetary exploration (eg. Mars Rover control). 


Kaplan-Leiserson (2004) suggests that the it is the whole body interaction of AR that engages not only children, but adult learners as well, enhancing motivation and learning memory as well. The experiential environment allows for "learning by constructing knowledge", supporting constructivist learning. Students can interact with objects and peers collaboratively, instead of working on individual displays.


Instructional Design


Problem based learning (PBL)  is the basis of the US military's Problem-Based Embedded Training approach to learning with AR, as they develop pedagogy for performance-support training. PBL is also used to support learning in multi-age learners for environmental hazard assessment and response. 


Game-based learning theory is also used as a framework for learning with AR, with the elements of "engaging backstory, differentiated character roles, reactive third parties, guided debriefing, synthetic activities, and embedded recall/replay to promote both engagement and learning" (Kaplan-Leiserson, 2004).


The potential of AR does not only lie in face to face learning. Research into  online environments at the University of Sussex shows that an interactive e-learning AR interface is possible. This brings a new level of personal experience and interactivity to online environments, as students can interact with the object as they wish and vie it from any perspective. The Multimedia Augmented Reality Interface for E-Learning (MARIE) project explores this type of learning in a synchronous environment, where students are guided by online instructors, and have their own simple, low cost AR platforms to view the objects. While the augmentation is currently limited to visual, the researchers suggest that augmenting sound and smell is feasible. Important to the diffusion of this technology and approach, is the low cost of the display units and heightened interactivity and engagement they offer (Liarokapis, 2006). 




Using the MagicBook to move between Reality and Virtual Reality

    As can be seen in the photos above and adjacent, the MagicBook interface supports new forms of educational experience. No longer are textbooks static sources of information. Through the use of Augmented Reality the printed page can become means to move students to animated interactive virtual environments. The MagicBook explores seamless transition between reality and virtual reality. When users look at the pages of a real book through a hand held display they can see virtual content superimposed over the real pages. When they see an Augmented Reality (AR) scene they like, the user can fly into the scene and experience it as an immersive virutal environment. In addition the book serves as a focus for collaboration. When several users look at the same book page they can see the AR image from their own viewpoint and when one flys into the virtual model, the other users see her as a virtual character in the scene. In this way, the MagicBook supports collaboration as a physical object, a shared AR experience and a multi-user immersive virtual environment. The MagicBook has many possible applications in education, architecture and entertainment among others.







Although Augmented Reality technology is not new, its potential in education is just beginning to be explored. Unlike other computing technologies, AR interfaces offer seamless interaction between the real and virtual worlds, a tangible interface metaphor and a means for transitioning between real and virtual worlds. Educators should work with researchers in the field to explore how these characteristics can best be applied in a school environment.


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