March 26, 2021

Using Augmented Reality for Learning

Author: Mr. Calum Nicholson - Learning Technologies Coach

What is Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is the connection with, and enhancement of, the physical world with digital objects. 

AR to Simulate Human Impact on the Environment

Our elementary students have been using AR Makr (free on the Apple App Store) to extend their inquiries into the impact of humans on the environment. As part of their inquiry into humans having a collective responsibility towards sustainability, Grade 4 students have been ‘building’ villages onto physical models of wetlands to make predictions about how different areas are affected by constructing dams in different parts of their rivers.

Students then use their iPads to record the pouring of water down their waterways to reflect on and modify their hypotheses about how dams impact areas they placed their villages and different topographical areas. This aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are promoted throughout American International School Vietnam (AISVN).

Students use AR Makr to build villages.

Extending Inquiry

Another AR app students use at AISVN is the Measure app, which is native to iPadOS. While the trundle wheel and a tape measure will always have a place in inquiries into perimeter and area, the Measure app has affordances for students to take screenshots of their measurements and mark these up to document their learning.

Measure and Mark Up
Measure and Mark Up

Creative and Fun

Another vital element of leveraging AR for learning is that AR IS FUN!!!! Our students love creating all kinds of silly scenes in their own time, as can be seen below.

Students use AR Makr to create their own scenes.

These creations can then be used as provocations for creative writing as students build narratives around their AR scenarios.

Co-constructing Knowledge

Reality Composer (free on the Apple App Store) is more advanced than AR Makr and allows students to create simulations of objects made of different materials (ice, concrete, wood, rubber etc.) interacting with each other.

Reality Composer after 10 minutes in the hands of a Grade 3 student

Unlike the static images of AR Makr, Reality Composer requires learners to rotate objects on X, Y and Z axes, as well as inputting how gravitational force and velocity will affect their objects’ interactions. This all sounds quite advanced but, as is so often the case with our learners, given time to explore and tinker, they can work out the fundamentals and teach each other how to create their own simulations with the app.

Positive Interactions with Technology

As educators and parents ourselves, we take young people’s interactions with technology very seriously. We recommend giving your child access to these AR tools at home to foster their creativity. Allowing your child access to creative apps such as these also raises your child’s awareness of uses of an iPad beyond watching YouTube gaming videos and the naive use of social media.

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