It’s fair to say that augmented reality has moved from a cool technology that might be neat for students to try to a credible teaching tool that fits just as easily in K-12 classrooms as it does in higher education.

Advocates have long said augmented reality helps boost student engagement and also helps reach those with varying learning styles.

Many educators see that augmented reality “takes what is real and enhances or overlays information to get more out of exploring our world,” said David Loveland and Jim Wasserman, teachers at The Parish Episcopal School in Dallas.

Augmented reality differs from virtual reality in that, while virtual reality creates a virtual or “fake” world, augmented reality overlays additional information and virtual features over the real, existing world.

“Unfortunately, too much of our education system is structured like virtual reality. We create an artificial world where subjects like history, science, and physical education are separated into distinct, and unreal, classes without reference to each other. So too, the student’s day is blocked out into delineated (and often arbitrary) chunks of time. Students are asked to read about things and solve problems that have no connection to their immediate world,” they wrote in an exclusive for eSchool News.

“[Augmented reality], on the other hand, is an approach that has endless possibilities for enhancing the motivation and actual learning for students. Starting with the world as students know or perceive it, such an approach presents the world in a way that engages students. Once engaged, or having “bought into it” as teachers like to say, the students are much more receptive to the follow-up learning that the teacher can then add on top,” Loveland and Wasserman said.

Next page: Five augmented reality tools you can use in the classroom