There’s no better way to say it: American students are bored. According to Zachary Jason at Harvard University, student engagement in the classroom drops each year due to an ongoing emphasis on standardized testing.
This emphasis turns an engaging classroom into a regimented affair filled with sterile fact memorization and dull repetition. Students need creative, mental stimulation, with hands-on experiences to cement important lesson concepts.
Enter experiential learning.
Experiential learning is a rising trend in education. It’s a hands-on learning method that makes it easier for teachers to put theory into practice. It’s learning by doing, which is one of the most effective ways to teach. Studies show that learning by doing has an average retention rate of 75%.
Below, I’ll explain how augmented reality can aid experiential learning and provide an overview of five augmented reality tools you can use in the classroom.
How can augmented reality help with experiential learning?
Augmented reality is a new technology that projects digital objects onto a real-world surface (like a hologram). These digital objects show up on the display of the device using the augmented reality software.
Pokemon Go login screen
Pokemon Go was a disruptive foray into the viability of augmented reality in the consumer market, with millions of players exploring their neighborhoods to capture virtual monsters on their smartphones.
Setting the monsters aside, teachers and students can use this same technology in the classroom through educational AR apps. Instead of learning lessons from a whiteboard or textbook, students can animate and interact with lessons on their devices.
Augmented reality apps provide a hands-on and practical experience for classroom lessons.
With all this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of five educational AR apps, complete with pricing information and suggestions for best use.
The apps on this list all require standard technology such as smartphones, tablets, and desktop.laptop computers. Apps that required major computer rigs (heavy duty graphics cards, Intel i7 (or higher) processors, etc.) were not included.
Apps listed in alphabetical order.
Five augmented reality apps for education
Augment is an AR tool specializing in AR presentations, modeling projects, and 3D design. Using Augment, students can build their own 3D models for a myriad of class types, including health, architecture, animation, and art courses.
On the instructor side of things, Augment offers presentation tools that let you demonstrate lesson concepts in 3D.
Best for: High school and higher education classrooms due to the associated technical learning requirements
AugThat! uses augmented reality to bring core topics such as English, math, science, and geography to life in the classroom. Courses separate Common Core activities from non-Common Core activities, so your school can maintain compliance if necessary.
AugThat! course list (via AugThat!)
In addition to core classes, AugThat! also provides specialty courses for special needs students.
Best for: Elementary and middle school classes (the app covers grades one through eight)
Pricing: $5 per student, per year
3. Sky Map
Sky Map is a specialized app for classrooms learning about the solar system and astronomy. Students point their devices at the sky and the app locates planets, stars, and galaxies using the devices’ compass as an orientation.
The app was developed as “Google Sky Map”, but was ultimately donated by the company and converted to open source.
Best for: Great for astronomy lessons at any age
Human Anatomy Atlas by Visible Body is a great tool to teach students about the human body, including major organ systems, the skeletal structure, and muscle composition.
This app goes in-depth with 3D models of the human body that students can interact with to learn their functions. Visible Body also includes a 1,000+ question quiz bank, multiple language settings, and descriptions of injuries and diseases, which can aid instructor lesson planning.
Best for: High school and higher education students due to the required technical skill and general health knowledge
This Alive Studios project brings math and literacy lessons to life through their Letters Alive, Math Alive, and Storybooks Alive apps. Each program purchase includes posters, flashcards, a USB camera, lesson plan manual, and training videos.
All lessons adhere to Common Core standards.
Best for: Elementary school classrooms
Pricing: Individual programs are $995/each, while the bundled suite goes for $1,495
Other classroom tools and resources
Capterra’s school administration blog is full of tools, guides, and resources to help you improve classroom engagement. Check out these pieces for more information: