What is AR? (Augmented Reality)

Anatomy $D App Screenshot
Anatomy 4D Screenshot

The best way to describe what augmented reality looks and feels like is to imagine being a student at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. The hallways are lined with painted portraits from floor to ceiling. As a student walking through the halls the paintings start talking, conversing and singing. They are alive and interactive. This is what augmented reality looks like. The first time someone experiences augmented reality it can be unbelievable.  As “cool” as augmented reality is, many educators consider it a novelty and don’t understand the benefits it can bring to meaningful learning in formal and informal settings.

Augmented reality (AR) is creating layers of digital information on top of the physical world that is viewed through an Android or iOS device. Virtual reality is different in that it is a computer simulated environment that replicates the physical world.

A glimpse at AR: What the future looks like

There are many AR apps available such as Elements 4D where students manipulate and combine elements like mercury rather than just reading or watching videos. Another app, Anatomy 4D, allows users to explore a human body and isolate various body systems. The British Museum’s AR app, A Gift for Athena, allows kids to go on a museum scavenger hunt to find different pieces of history in a story-based gamification experience. Apps like Aurasma and Layar let people create their own AR learning experiences.

In this blog post series we will discuss why using AR is important in education and how to use it effectively. Additional posts will discuss different AR apps that are applicable to Extension professionals.