What to Know About Augmented Reality for eLearning

Thomas Bril
L&D Specialist
What to Know About Augmented Reality for eLearning

Augmented reality (AR) is transforming the landscape of eLearning, offering unique and interactive ways to engage with educational content. As we enter our second month of 2024, it’s crucial to understand the rapidly evolving trends shaping its future. In this article, we’ll share our insights on the current trends shaping AR and how teams can adapt to the changing landscape.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a technology that overlays digital information—such as images, videos, and 3D models—onto the real world. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a wholly artificial environment, AR enhances your real-world surroundings by adding digital elements to it. Apples recent product launch, the Apple Vision Pro, is the latest iteration of AR tech (although they prefer the term ‘Spatial Computing’).

The most common use of AR can be seen through mobile apps. By pointing your device’s camera at a recognized object or marker, the app generates 3D animations or videos that seem to exist within the real world, making it appear as if the computer-generated items are truly present. This effect bridges the gap between the virtual and the physical, providing an immersive learning experience (Teach Thought).

The Growth of AR Educational Apps

The popularity of augmented reality educational apps has been soaring, with significant growth in downloads and usage. In 2019 alone, more than 1.5 billion AR apps were downloaded, indicating a strong trend toward incorporating AR in educational settings (source). These apps have revolutionized traditional teaching methods by making learning more interactive and engaging. By fusing physical and virtual spaces, AR apps allow students to visualize and interact with complex concepts, leading to improved understanding and retention of knowledge.

AR technology has been particularly effective in turning monotonous lectures into dynamic learning sessions with 3D modeling and discovery-based learning approaches. It simplifies difficult subjects and maintains high engagement levels among students by providing hands-on experiences (Postindustria).

Augmented reality educational apps like JigSpace, Complete Anatomy 2021, and Adobe Aero exemplify the diversity and potential of AR in education. From exploring the intricacies of the human body to learning about historical events in an interactive manner, AR apps cater to a wide range of subjects and learning styles, paving the way for a more enriched and captivating educational experience (Teach Thought).

As AR technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, we expect there will be further integration into eLearning platforms, creating a future where learning is not just informative but also truly captivating.

The Impact of AR on Learning

Augmented reality (AR) is revolutionizing the educational landscape, providing dynamic ways to engage learners. Here are the three top impacts integrating AR into learning programs:

Boosting Engagement and Retention

Augmented reality educational apps have been shown to significantly enhance student engagement. Traditional teaching methods, while effective, often struggle to capture the attention of learners in the same way that AR can. These apps make learning an interactive and immersive experience, which is a key factor in increasing both engagement and knowledge retention. A study found that students using AR scored 92% higher in assessments compared to those taught with traditional methods (source). This data underscores the potential of AR to not only draw learners in but to keep the information fresh in their minds.

Visualizing Complex Concepts

One of the standout benefits of AR is its ability to help learners visualize complex concepts. By overlaying digital information onto the real world, AR apps allow you to see and interact with three-dimensional models, making abstract or difficult-to-grasp ideas more tangible and understandable.

These visualization capabilities are particularly beneficial in fields such as science and engineering, where spatial understanding is crucial. By engaging with models in a virtual space, learners can manipulate and explore scenarios that would be impossible in a traditional classroom setting.

Personalizing the Learning Experience

AR educational apps bring a level of personalization to learning that traditional methods may lack. These applications can be tailored to suit individual learning styles and paces, providing a customized experience that caters to each student’s needs.

Furthermore, AR can help develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills by engaging learners in hands-on activities and real-world simulations. These experiences are not only more relevant to learners but also encourage them to apply what they’ve learned in practical situations (Source).

As you consider integrating AR into your training programs, keep in mind its potential to boost engagement, enhance understanding, and personalize the learning journey. These benefits underscore why AR is not just a fleeting trend but a key tool in the future of eLearning.

Overcoming Challenges with AR Integration

The integration of augmented reality (AR) in educational settings presents exciting opportunities for enhanced learning. However, successful implementation requires addressing certain challenges to ensure that both students and educators can fully benefit from augmented reality educational apps.

Access to AR Technology

One of the primary hurdles in integrating AR into education is the limited access to the necessary technology. Many educational institutions may not have the budget to provide AR-capable devices for all educators and learners. To overcome this challenge, consider the following approaches:

  • Device Sharing Programs: Implement a system where devices are shared among learners to ensure everyone gets an opportunity to engage with AR learning materials.
  • Grants and Funding: Depending on your program, seek out grants and other funding opportunities aimed at technological advancement in education to procure AR equipment.
  • BYOD Policies: Encourage a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, where learners can use their own AR-capable smartphones or tablets to access educational content.

Training Educators for AR Utilization

Another significant impediment is ensuring that educators are well-equipped to use AR in their teaching. To address this, consider the following strategies:

  • Professional Development: Offer professional development courses focused on AR technologies and their application in the classroom.
  • Online Tutorials and Workshops: Utilize online resources that provide step-by-step guides on how to incorporate AR into lesson plans.
  • Peer Coaching: Establish a peer coaching system where tech-savvy educators can support colleagues in learning and using AR tools.

By addressing these challenges, your organization can pave the way for effective integration of AR into educational curriculums, unlocking new dimensions of interactive learning. It’s essential to stay informed on the latest developments in AR technology and educational methods to ensure that your learners benefit from the most cutting-edge resources available.

Implementing AR in Your Training Programs

Augmented Reality (AR) is revolutionizing eLearning by offering interactive and immersive learning experiences.

Identifying Suitable AR Apps

Your journey into AR-enhanced eLearning begins with selecting the right augmented reality educational apps that align with your organization’s objectives. Here are some steps to identify suitable AR apps:

  • Define Learning Goals: Determine what you aim to achieve with AR technology. This could include enhancing understanding of complex subjects, increasing learner engagement, or supporting hands-on skills.
  • Research and Evaluate: Look for AR apps that have a proven track record of success and offer the functionalities that meet your defined learning goals.
  • Compatibility Check: Ensure the apps are compatible with the devices available to your learners, whether they are smartphones, tablets, or AR headsets.
  • Trial and Feedback: Pilot the apps with a small group of learners and gather feedback on usability, engagement, and learning outcomes.
  • Scalability: Consider whether the app can be scaled for larger groups and varied learning environments.

Encouraging Collaboration and Teamwork

AR is not just a tool for individual learning; it can significantly promote collaboration and teamwork among learners. By engaging in shared AR experiences and problem-solving activities, learners can develop their communication and interpersonal skills. Here are ways to encourage collaboration:

  • Shared Experiences: Use AR apps that allow multiple learners to view and interact with the same digital information in a real-world context. This encourages discussion and teamwork.
  • Real-time Feedback: Choose apps that enable educators and learners to share content and provide feedback in real-time, fostering an interactive learning environment (LinkedIn).
  • Situated Learning: Implement AR scenarios that allow learners to practice in authentic environments, enhancing experiential learning and making the training more relevant and memorable (LinkedIn).

Measuring the Impact on Performance

To ensure the AR implementation in your training programs is effective, it’s important to measure its impact on learner performance. Here are some metrics to consider:

  • Engagement Metrics: Track how often and how long learners are using the AR apps. High engagement levels are often correlated with improved learning outcomes.
  • Assessment Scores: Compare assessment results from before and after the implementation of AR to gauge improvement in knowledge and skills.
  • Feedback Surveys: Collect qualitative data from learners about their experiences with the AR apps. This can provide insights into satisfaction levels and areas for improvement.
  • Performance Improvement: Monitor changes in on-the-job performance that can be attributed to the use of AR in training.

By carefully identifying suitable AR apps, fostering an environment that encourages collaboration, and measuring the impact on performance, you can successfully integrate augmented reality into your organization’s training programs. This not only benefits learners by providing personalized and engaging learning experiences but also aligns with the future direction of eLearning and development.

Future of AR in eLearning

The landscape of eLearning is constantly evolving, and augmented reality (AR) is at the forefront of this transformation. As you plan for the future of training and development in your enterprise, understanding the trajectory of AR technology and its educational applications is crucial.

Market Growth and Industry Trends

The AR and VR industry is on an upward trajectory, with significant growth anticipated in the coming years. The market size is projected to expand by USD 125.19 billion during 2020-2024, which underscores the increasing demand and potential for AR in various sectors, including education. This growth is driven by the proliferation of AR apps, with more than 1.5 billion AR apps downloaded in 2019 alone, signaling a burgeoning interest in immersive technology for learning (source).

Year Projected Market Growth (USD billion)
2020 $25
2021 $50
2022 $75
2023 $100
2024 $125

The industry trends point towards a future where AR educational apps are not just a novelty but an integral part of the learning experience. These trends include the integration of AR with artificial intelligence (AI) to create more personalized learning scenarios and the use of AR for skill-based training across various industries.