Sunday, February 24, 2019

Utilizing Augmented Reality as an Impetus for Learning

Technology continues to make inroads in classrooms across the world at a dizzying pace. This makes complete sense as every learner in our classrooms at this point have known nothing but a digital world. In many cases, they’ve grown up with access to incredibly immersive technology practically since birth. As a result, it can be difficult at times to compete for attention using traditional teaching methods like whiteboards, worksheets, and extended direct instruction. When the experience is mostly passive relying on strategies that might have worked well in the past, it’s no surprise that classroom engagement learning to meaningful learning has been negatively impacted. In Learning Transformed, Tom Murray and I showcased some compelling data from Gallop that emphasizes this point. 

As I have written extensively in the past the digital world that we are now all apart of provides so much promise with paired with sound pedagogy. Instead of fighting the use of tech in the classroom and schools’ educators should not only embrace it embrace but look to expand their toolbox to better empower learners. With so many options to choose from it can be both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. It seems that every day I’m introduced to a new tech tool that promises to change education.  While the premise of many possesses potential, the challenge is to determine which tools are or will have a real impact on education. Research has shown that educational technology has the most effect on learners when it is part of an interactive experience, uses to explore and create as opposed to drill and kill, and consists of the right blend of teachers and technology. 

To improve outcomes student agency has to be at the forefront. I’ve always preferred tools that let students take control of their learning by turning passive consumers into creators because it allows them to tap into their imagination, while the learning happens naturally. I was blown away when I discovered Metaverse and seeing it utilized in a classroom during a recent coaching visit. It is a platform that makes it easy for anyone to create augmented reality experiences without having to code. I have not seen any other tools come close when it comes to ease of use and student engagement.



So, what is augmented reality (AR)? Using the camera on a mobile device (phone, tablet) AR overlays images/media over the real world. It is a social experience, as opposed to virtual reality (VR) where a single student would wear goggles that would obstruct them from their surroundings. AR might have started out as a novelty but has now become a fantastic way to engage students through authentic learning experiences. There are many reasons to incorporate AR in the classroom. A short list includes letting students experience characters/imagery that would not otherwise be accessible (historical figures), new places (enhanced field trips), added interactivity to classroom materials, gamified learning, and more immersive opportunities aligned to the curriculum.

As mentioned previously, I was first introduced to Metaverse during a coaching visit where students were creating AR projects for their peers to review ELA concepts. Since then it’s been fascinating to see Metaverse being embraced by educators in large numbers. What sets Metaverse apart from other AR tools is that anyone can create their own experiences quickly and easily. Metaverse consists of two components; Metaverse Studio where experiences are built in and the Metaverse app (iOS, Android and Chromebooks) where the can be subsequently viewed. Experiences are created by combining components on a storyboard (think digital Lego’s). Building your first AR Experience takes minutes. Here’s a quick tutorial.




Whether you are an educator or a student there are so many tasks you can create in Metaverse including:

  • AR quizzes
  • Games
  • Choose your own adventure
  • Field trips
  • Digital breakout puzzles (AR Breakout EDU)
  • Scavenger hunts/tours (experiences can be placed at GPS locations, similar to Pokemon GO)
  • Audio games
  • Interactive stories

Metaverse is free for anyone to create and view AR Experiences (you can create as many as you like). The collections feature is a premium addition to Metaverse Studio that is geared towards teachers who have students creating their own experiences. For more information check out the Metaverse blog to see what teachers are creating and check them out on Twitter

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