5 tools for adding AR/VR to remote learning

From STEAM to foreign languages, immersive tech tools can be used in any class to engage students and help them retain concepts
By: | May 15, 2020
(Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash)(Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash)
Rachelle Dene Poth is a foreign language and STEAM teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. She is a featured speaker for FETC.

Rachelle Dene Poth is a foreign language and STEAM teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. She is a featured speaker for FETC.

Augmented reality and virtual reality is one area that I really enjoy teaching in all of my classes, but especially in my eighth-grade STEAM course called “What’s Next in Emerging Technology.” A few years ago, several students in my Spanish classes asked me why they didn’t get to do “all of the cool augmented and virtual reality stuff.” I didn’t have a good response. Honestly, I had never thought about using those types of tools in my Spanish classes.

But I gave it a try, and it went really well. My students enjoyed exploring different types of digital tools, and I found that they were able to better retain the vocabulary and grammar concepts I was teaching. They were engaging in more authentic and meaningful work, and they had fun in the process.


Read: Updated: 288 free K-12 resources during coronavirus pandemic


Getting started with immersive tech

We know there are endless opportunities to take learning beyond the confined classroom space, especially now as we work through school closures and seek ways to keep learning going and to provide new experiences for our students. AR/VR tools enable educators to offer more interactive learning experiences, which students can control and build upon. They also help students engage more deeply with content. 

AR/VR tools enable educators to offer more interactive learning experiences, which students can control and build upon.

Wondering where to start? Here are 5 resources to try that are fun for everyone—including families. 

  1. Catchy Words AR: One of my favorite free apps, I use it with students for active learning, and at conferences for demonstrations. It is a fun AR word game. Students break a bubble that’s filled with letters, which they must grab and put in the right order to solve a word puzzle. Educators can add their own words to focus on the content they are covering. This app is helpful for students with dyslexia, too.
  2. Devar: Devar brings animated characters into the real world. It is a fun way for students to learn about AR; they can choose a character and record a story to go along with it. Devar also offers AR books, cards, games, a globe and play sets for learning about the alphabet, anatomy, chemistry, geography and more.

    Read: Can virtual reality experiences be accomplished remotely?


  3. Figment AR: My students use this free tool—one of the first AR apps that I added to my phone—to create scenes by adding animated characters, objects, special effects and even portals. As they enter the portals, they move from AR to VR. They can also screen record and narrate a story in the real world.
  4. Google Translate AR: Using a device camera, this free app can instantly translate signs, letters, images and more into 38 different languages. It is great for instant translation. Students can look around the house and find products with different languages to translate, for instance.
  5. Just A Line: Have fun drawing in AR with this free app. It is another option for designing a more active learning experience. Students can also record a video and tell a story about a drawing they made or about the actual physical space they are in.

Consider how one of these tools can help you engage students in class discussions, too. Each one is easy to use for remote and in-person instruction—once we return to our classroom spaces. 


Rachelle Dene Poth (@Rdene915) is a foreign language and STEAM teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. She is a featured speaker for FETC®.


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