Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are the new hot trends in education. But what does that mean and how is it going to benefit our students? AR superimposes information on our world through the use of a device; VR—a computer-generated environment in which we can interact and be immersed—is typically done with VR goggles and allows you to see a different world or space with 360-degree vision. These new tools may seem futuristic, but we are already living in the world of AR and VR.
Sometimes, technology is a cool factor. This is not a bad thing if the cool factor encourages students to follow their passion for learning or leads a student to a more innovative environment, but we need to keep technology’s instructional benefits at the forefront of our searches. Educators need to look at both AR and VR with a critical eye. We need to discover how this technology can help educate our students. We need to examine the use of this tech and know that we are not just endorsing a cool tool, but rather we are discovering new and innovative means to support our students’ learning.
The benefits of AR & VR are …?
Let’s consider some benefits of these trends. For starters, VR can totally immerse you in another location, another reality. What if we could place the students inside a cell for a science class, or on the road in ancient Rome while reading Julius Caesar? What if we could have students working in a virtual science lab using virtual chemicals that would react according to their natural elements? Talk about an experience like no other!
AR appears to have gone mainstream for the first time. I’m referring to the use of augmentation in our modern world. Remember Pokémon? Millions of children (and adults) ran around their neighborhood looking for Pokémon characters. When watching football, remember seeing the yellow first-down line on the field? That is also AR.