3 ways augmented reality enhances remote learning environments
With many school institutions opting for continued remote studies or hybrid learn-from-home plans, educators are pressed for new ways to engage their students when transferring learning experiences to at-home distance learning environments. Instructors of vocational courses, like automotive and mechanical engineering, quickly realized the need for viable alternatives for hands-on practical training and simulations of on-the-job scenarios.
The use of Augmented Reality (AR) in educational settings is swiftly becoming a new tool for teachers to create an immersive learning environment by bringing the classroom home – literally. AR technology allows users to see digital assets superimposed or positioned within the real world and can be delivered through a hand-held or hands-free device. When used properly, AR can transform the living room into an interactive learning center and make distance learning much more effective.
AR applications for remote learning and its benefits
The immediate pivot to remote learning posed many challenges to students and educators alike. For students, having access to hands-on experiences is limited; and for teachers, maintaining engagement when presenting lessons online can be challenging. While shelter-in-place conditions are fluid, AR can be used to address some of these challenges now and into the future by enhancing the school-from-home environment in several ways:
- Globally accessible education: Access to the internet coupled with conferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams or Zoom have allowed lessons and lectures to take place from anywhere in the world. With AR smart glasses, teachers can go a step beyond the typical teleconferencing experience to provide a unique avenue for richer collaboration practices and virtual “face-to-face” classroom sessions. Offering translation and captioning features, AR smart glasses allow students to see the teacher’s words translated in real-time, ultimately promoting diversity by bridging the gap between countries, cultures, and borders.
- Refine professional skills while maintaining safety protocols: Vocational schools often necessitate strict requirements that mandate practice-oriented or hands-on training. Increasingly, instructors are using AR smart glasses to teach various procedures by allowing remote students to see what the on-site instructor sees without the cost and logistics of getting everyone in the same room. Unlike hand-held devices such as mobile phones and tablets, AR smart glasses offer a hands-free solution, allowing instructors to provide visual guidance with full use of their hands. Additionally, AR allows for realistic and safe training or test prep at home. For example, students can complete potentially dangerous procedures by practicing in a simulated reality using AR, offering opportunities to prepare for situations they may otherwise not have been able to.
- Customized experiences to suit subject and teaching methodology: Educators can deliver compelling learning experiences by utilizing AR multidimensional images and captivating animations to enhance lectures. In addition to driving students to take part in lessons more proactively, AR can help students gain a deeper understanding of complex concepts by helping them visualize how components work or fit together in the real world. For example, chemical reactions and photosynthesis may become easier to grasp through video simulations. 3D models of human DNA may provide a better visual representation to further enrich learning. Additionally, even with social distancing and remote learning, field trips are still made possible through AR in which students can virtually tour museums, see full-size renderings of iconic landmarks, or even explore various countries across the globe.
Incorporating AR into learn-from-home environments
While today’s current learning reality has been, and continues to be, a reminder of the impact of a global pandemic, it has helped forge technology and cultural barriers for longer term remote learning initiatives. Incorporating AR into the virtual classroom can enable students to gain access to even more in-depth experiences than in a traditional classroom. While reviewing slides and taking notes are helpful to a degree, remote AR tools are immersive, allowing students to have a better understanding of what they are learning. AR removes traditional barriers to educational experiences by reducing physical constraints, proving that education can extend far beyond the confines of the physical classroom.
Combining classroom theory and real-life experience to provide context to learners of any age, AR can enhance the learn-from-home environment and assist with problem-solving, collaboration and creation to better prepare students for the future.
Remi Del Mar manages the developer community for Epson’s Moverio AR smart glasses, partnering with third-party companies looking to enhance digital experiences and drive the AR category forward. For additional information about Epson’s AR smart glass solutions, visit https://epson.com/moverio-augmented-reality.
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