Home Future of Education Technology The Evolution of Augmented Reality Applications for Education and Instructional Use

The Evolution of Augmented Reality Applications for Education and Instructional Use


This burgeoning field offers exciting possibilities for teaching and learning.

One of the emerging technologies in my research ‘to do' queue for some time now has been Augmented Reality. This week I spent some time trolling the web for insights into instructional applications of this new technology. I found a number of interesting sites, sources, and videos demonstrating applications and prototypes.

Wikipedia defines Augmented Reality (AR) as, “a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data”. This is broader than my original interpretation, but it makes sense – AR can consist of the cool ‘pop up' information and visuals that can overlay a view of a place or object (you may have seen these on TV as this technique is increasingly common in commercials), but it can also include 3D modelling, global positioning data, and much more.

The following videos demonstrate the potential for Augmented Reality technologies to facilitate instruction and engage learners:

First up, we have this demonstration of a “Solar System Magic Book”, developed as an idea generator for further AR projects. The content for this interactive AR solar system is from NASA. Further details and related project files are free and available to download here.

Next, we have an example of an educational video produced using augmented reality techniques. In this example, we see Professor Ron Dotson reviewing OSHA regulations for scaffolding:

I found both of the above examples on the interesting site, “Augmented Reality in Education” (www.arined.org), which is authored by Nedim Slijepcevic and Wanju Huang, instructional designers at Eastern Kentucky University.

One of the leaders in developing AR technology for commercial use is Wikitude (www.wikitude.com), which provides an app that can be downloaded on most smartphones. Below is a simple demonstration of the Wikitude app in use (while this isn't very flashy, its nice because its a regular person using the app, not a commercial for it):

Potential applications for this type of technology are easy to envision – just imagine getting detailed information and web links when you point your smart phone at any recognizable entity, from a piece of art work to a city skyline to a famous person's picture and so on.

Another leader in the AR field is Aurasma (www.aurasma.com). Aurasma also makes iPad and smartphone apps where you can create your own 3D overlays that will trigger based on an image. In this TED video, we see a (very cool!) demonstration of their technology.

While this demonstration is not focused on an educational application, again we can envision the potential for engagement and demonstration inherent in being able to ‘bring to life' images in this way.

Do you know of any interesting academic projects or apps that leverage AR? Please drop a comment and tell us about them. Thanks!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
10 Emerging Education and Instructional Technologies that all Educators Should Know About (2012)
How Are Learning Analytics Being Used in Education?
Tailoring the Classroom of the Future With the Fabric of the Past


  1. Thanks for this Paul – this is pretty cool! If you do discover that the markers are available somehow, please do drop another comment to let readers know how. (Anyone who wants to check this out should view the YouTube videos since the main site’s tools don’t work without the markers).

  2. I produced some AR learning materials in my previous job. The goal was to showcase ideas in different subjects. The project covered physics, chemistry, biology/PE, french, Spanish, RE and English. A demo marker (organs of the body overlay) can be found at http://learnAR.org/
    Examples of all 10 resources can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G3H3ImCWlE
    The pack of markers was a resource to be purchased at the time but have noticed it is not currently available. Will check how it can be made available.


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