EdTech Trend: Augmented Reality

By Monica Burns 04.06.2014 blog

We’ve discussed a few different EdTech trends in this series and one that is grabbing the attention of students and teachers across the country is the use of augmented reality in the classroom. This technology seems like it belongs in video games or science fiction books but educators are embracing new tools that truly energize their lesson plans. Thanks to augmented reality teens are engaging with content in a new way and learning about emerging technology at the same time!

What is augmented reality?

AR simply refers to an experience that is modified to give a user a unique way to interact with the world around them. Another layer is placed on the real world with the help of different technology tools. Special software is used to change your perception of the world by layering digital information like an image or video on top of the view you would normally see through a camera lens on a mobile device.

Why are teachers trying it in their classrooms?

Teachers who have had the chance to try AR apps on a mobile device are realizing that this technology can be used in their classroom. Augmented reality gives students a brand new way to interact with their learning environments. Students can use the camera on a mobile device like an iPad or smartphone to scan a trigger image and watch it come to life on their screen. For example, teens can scan a target image and see a space vehicle pop off of the page using NASA’s Spacecraft 3D app. Students can also interact with a model of a human liver using AR Liver Viewer. Not only does augmented reality contain the wow factor that grabs the attention of students, with this technology teens can interact with educational tools in a new and exciting way.

Where do I start?

There are a handful of apps that make bringing augmented reality into your classroom quick and easy. For many of these you’ll print out a paper target that students will use to access the AR features with a particular app. You could introduce augmented reality to students with an app designed for younger students like colAR Mix or ARBasketball or try creating your own augmented reality activities with Aurasma or Layar.

What is in store for the future?

Teachers all around the world are exploring how to use this technology in their classroom. Courtney Pepe is an Apple Distinguished Educator and high school teacher in New Jersey who shares her adventures using AR technology on her blog – including the use of Google Glasses. She believes that “people need to realize that augmented reality is so much more than dancing dinosaurs and fire-breathing dragons. Augmented reality is changing the shape of knowledge within the context of the 21st century classroom. Most recently Layar has paired with Google Glasses to change the sound of learning in my classroom. Most of my students approach the AR triggers and scan them with iPads.  Then the ‘glass’ student of the day will say ‘okay glass scan this.’” Augmented reality is being embraced by teachers who want to engage students in content and introduce them to careers of the future.

Have you tried any augmented reality apps? Do you think they have a place in your classroom?

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.




  1. Amanda Denault

    This is awkward like totally that should not be used

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