What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality, often referred to as AR, is a form of technology that allows users to place digital objects and information in the real-world. Most commonly used with smartphones and tablets, AR is being used in a range of different industries and sectors, ranging from manufacturing and construction to leisure and retail. One of the biggest use cases for AR is education. Over the past decade, teachers have been bringing their classrooms to life through various apps readily available on the App and Play Store. Imagine, for example, a T-Rex roaming around the school hall or a Viking Longship being planted in the school playground. The possibilities for AR in education are endless.
How is AR different to VR?
Virtual Reality, or VR, uses a headset to transport a user into a digital 360-degree world. Using controllers, you can interact with different objects and activities in the virtual world. Unlike AR, VR doesn’t involve any interaction with the real world. For this reason, it’s important that you are aware of your surroundings and you have enough space to participate safely. The most commonly used VR headsets are sold by manufacturers like Oculus (owned by Facebook) and HTC (the smartphone company).
How can AR be used in the classroom?
Fortunately, AR is far more accessible for education than VR. Schools with IPads or tablets can get started with AR straight away. There are hundreds of apps available for education, and many of them are free to download. I’ve listed five of my favourites below:
- Google Expeditions: Google Expeditions isn’t just suitable for schools with VR headsets. You can also use it for AR too. You will need to have an iPad 5th Generation or later (2017). There are hundreds of AR tours available where you can place 3D objects in the classroom with you, ranging from the Solar System to Ancient Roman artefacts. You can download it and find out more here. The following video also gives information about the app and how you can use it:
- Quiver: Quiver is an amazing example of AR, especially for KS1 and EYFS. Download one of Quiver’s packs and your class can colour in one of the sheets and watch their creation come to life through the AR app. You can download the app here and watch the following video to find out how to use it:
- ZooKazam: This is a great way of bringing animals to life in your classroom. ZooKazam has most animals you can think of and your class can take pictures and record videos with them. There’s a free version you can download but if you want access to everything you can upgrade for 99p. You can find out more about it here. Watch this short video for more information:
- Monster Park AR: There’s no better way to create excitement for your dinosaurs topic than placing a giant T-Rex in your classroom. What I love about this app is that the dinosaurs are not static and they will walk around your classroom. Similar to FXguru, you could film the dinosaurs wandering around your classroom and use it as a stimulus for writing or as a WOW starter. You can find out more about it or download it here. The following video shows a short preview of the app in action.
- Metaverse: If you are interested in your pupils creating their own AR experiences then Metaverse is the app for you. Pupils can create a free online education account and then they can design their own AR experiences that can be accessed through the app. You can create AR games, treasure hunts, presentations, quizzes and a whole lot more. You can find out more about it here and watch the following video for a short preview:
There are hundreds of AR apps that can be used in the classroom! Steve Bambury and ICT Evangelist have compiled a periodic table of all the best educational AR and VR apps for IOS and this can be accessed here. Take a look and start downloading some of the AR apps to test in your classroom!
At PrimeVR, we are currently designing our own AR app that is going to provide a unique storytelling experience and will be a great stimulus for creative writing. More news and updates regarding this will be shared on our website soon.
Stuart Gent is the founder of PrimeVR, the UK’s leading VR workshop provider. Since setting up in 2017, PrimeVR has worked with over 500 schools and nearly 100,000 pupils to deliver engaging, curriculum-aligned KS2 workshops. PrimeVR is currently designing an AR app StoryBox AR that is going to provide a unique storytelling experience and will be a great stimulus for creative writing. More news and updates regarding this will be shared on their website soon.