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Defining Augmented Reality’s Role in the Classroom

Defining Augmented Reality’s Role in the Classroom

People often ask what augmented reality (AR) means and how it is different from virtual reality (VR). AR is a technology which literally “augments,” or adds to, your reality and your visual space. It essentially adds a new layer of visual information to it. Whereas virtual reality involves being completely immersed in a virtual environment and requires a head-mounted display, augmented reality typically utilizes the camera of a mobile device (such as a smartphone or tablet) to bring digital elements into a live view.

If that sounds very techy, think about this: you might already be using augmented reality and not even know it. Have you ever used the IKEA app to digitally envision what furniture might look like in your apartment, thinking, “Oh no, that orange couch looks horrible in here—better try something else”? That’s AR at work. Do you ever use Snapchat Lenses to layer cat ears and whiskers on your face? So cute, right? Or maybe you have played Pokémon GO, running around chasing Pikachu and trying to rack up points? Again, that’s AR in action.

But, augmented reality can be used for much more than just having fun or shopping. Because AR allows you to move around and place things in the real world, it promotes exploration and close looking, fosters spatial recall, and encourages physical—as well as social—interactivity. it can be a great tool for learning and might even become an educator’s new best friend. AR is a great way to increase student engagement, and it can provide access to cultural and educational experiences that could never be had otherwise.

And, as we know, today’s generation of students, so-called digital natives, are completely at home with dragging and dropping and tapping and swiping. Why not ride this wave of tech fluency by using AR to foster critical literacy skills, bridge disciplines, and ignite curiosity?

Stay tuned to hear more about the exciting, standards-aligned augmented reality activities that Edmentum and Boulevard Arts have already developed together for humanities courses for this upcoming 2019–20 school year. Learn more about Edmentum’s partnership with Boulevard Arts in this blog post.

larissa.bailiff's picture

Larissa Bailiff is Senior Editor of Education & Content at Boulevard Arts, where she has spent the last four years developing education-based content for augmented and virtual reality experiences. Before joining Boulevard, Larissa worked for over a decade in New York museums, designing and facilitating educational programs, working with K-12 school groups, and teaching online art history classes. Larissa received her BA from the University of California Berkeley and an MA in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. 

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