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Uses of Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 1867 words Published: 25th Feb 2019

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Introduction (What is AR and VR?)

Technology plays a major impact on education. The history of technology in education goes back to 1950 where the first computers were used for instruction. In 1969, the first computer was used with school children. The IBM 650 taught binary arithmetic in New York City (Roblyer, 2016). As of the early 2000s, smartphones and tablets have become prevalent in our society. More schools are allowing students to bring their own devices to school for learning.

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As of late, augmented and virtual reality has been popularized with innovations from different technology companies. The history of augmented reality goes back to the 1960s and the first system was used for both augmented and virtual reality. The system used an optical see-through head-mounted display that was tracked by one of two methods. The methods were mechanical and ultrasonic trackers. The system only displayed very simple wireframe drawings in real time (Lee, 2012). In the beginning phases of virtual reality in education, it was used for training, especially to pilots with the use of flight simulators. In 2016, an Ericsson Consumer Insight Summary Report named virtual reality as it applies to the visual presentation of information as one of the “10 Hot Consumer Trends” (Brown, 2016).

There is a difference between augmented reality and virtual reality. Augmented reality is a technology that allows computer-generated virtual imagery information to be overlaid onto a live direct or indirect real-world environment in real time. Virtual reality is different from having a computer-generated virtual environment (Lee, 2012). With virtual reality, people must use a headset-like object or glasses to be immersed into the environment. Some popular virtual reality objects include Google Glass, Oculus, and Samsung VR. A popular augmented reality app is Pokémon Go where people can turn on augmented reality to look for “Pokémon” creatures in the “real-world”. Wireless mobile devices are increasingly ushering augmented reality into mobile space where application offers a great deal of promise in education and apps that allow for students to be submerged in virtual reality with the use of inexpensive plastic lenses.

Augmented Reality in Language Arts

In language arts, augmented reality has updated books. People can read books in more interactive and realistic ways by overlaying 3D rendered models onto books with augmented reality. Instead of the traditional style of reading a book by looking at pictures on the pages, people can look at the pages through a handheld augmented reality display and see three-dimensional models appearing out of the pages. A popular avenue of augmented reality in books is the Magic Book where the technology is seen as an enhanced version of a traditional three-dimensional “pop-up” book (Lee, 2012).

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Science

In science, virtual reality and augmented reality can be used in a range of topics in science. Virtual reality allows students to go on guided tours to places like outer space and in the ocean. Teachers can guide the tour to point out specific areas and significant information about a location with the use of platforms like Google Expeditions and zSpace. For example, a teacher can point on the layers of the atmosphere as the students take a tour through the atmosphere. Teachers can take their students on a virtual tour of museums and the solar system and galaxies. Students can also take part in virtual labs. Virtual Radioactivity Laboratory provides students with virtual labs to probe radioactivity without the risk of being exposed to radioactive material. Virtual Reality Physics Simulation (VRPS) provides virtual reality labs to probe things like wave propagation, ray optics, relative velocity, electric machines and other phenomena in physics. Physics Education Research (PER) provides virtual labs to probe physical laws such as linear motion, circular motion, and collisions (Chih, 2007).

In terms of augmented reality, teachers can use augmented reality technology with three-dimensional rendered earth and sun shapes to teach about the relationship between the earth and the sun. In chemistry, augmented reality allows students to see what an atom or a molecule consists of. In biology, augmented reality technology can show what organs of human beings consist of and how they look by watching three-dimensional computer-generated models in the real classroom. In physics, augmented reality allows observing velocity and acceleration of objects that vary in time.

Augmented Reality in Math

In the field of mathematics, augmented reality can play a major role in subjects like geometry and calculus. One major example of an augmented reality application is Construct3D. Construct3D is designed with three-dimensional geometric construction models. The application allows students and teachers to share a virtual space to construct geometric shapes by wearing head-mounted displays that enable users to overlay computer-generated images onto the real world. Students and teachers can explore properties of curves, surfaces, and other geometric shapes.

In the field of calculus, augmented reality plays a major role in visualizing things like graphs of functions of one or two variables and solids of revolution. In Monterrey, Mexico in May 2003, there was a pilot study conducted with engineering students from a Calculus I course in order to describe the actions of a prototype. From the pilot, students were able to cut a solid and observe different curves in space that in turn would give information about the function itself. (Quintero, 2015)

Disadvantages of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

While there are many benefits to virtual reality and augmented reality, there are many barriers to successfully apply this technology to classrooms. Two of the major barriers are time and technical expertise of the technology. Many teachers are not well equipped or trained to deal with the technical issues and problems that may come up when using this new technology. This would lead to teachers needing a high level of support to ensure positive outcomes when using augmented and virtual realities. As of right now, there is a lack of conceptual framework regarding the implementation of these technologies. Without these frameworks, the application of technology in the classroom can be superficial and can be unproductive. Another barrier is cost. The cost of the materials to utilize this technology can be pricey.

In order to combat these barriers, it is important to equip educators with skills to integrate this technology. As more technology is being released, educators should be aware of what is out there. Training is needed for both educators and students to understand how to utilize each augmented and virtual reality program to its fullest potential. Materials are becoming more user-friendly and require less programming skills. To deal with cost, there are some cheap and widely available options for virtual reality. One example of cheap virtual reality options includes cardboard with inexpensive plastic lenses for $10 or less that can be used as virtual reality viewers. One example is Google Cardboard, where a smartphone or small tablet device can be used as a stable viewer to apply immersive virtual technology. This is the most basic of virtual reality, but can still be an effective way to have virtual reality in the classroom.

Benefits of VR and AR

There are many benefits to using virtual reality and augmented reality. According to the cone of experience theory, learners only remember 10% of what they read, but remember 90% of what they say as they perform an action by seeing and doing a simulation experience (Chih, 2007). Virtual reality can be treated as an application of experience learning where learners can experience conditions virtually. Virtual reality also allows for more of a hands-on experience which will help those that are kinesthetic learners. Virtual reality can also be a cost-effective option to use instead of taking groups of students to things like an art gallery, museum, or place that may not be around the school.

When it comes to augmented reality, students have reacted well using the technology both in and outside the classroom (Misty, 2014). Students can use augmented reality both independently or dependently. Augmented reality technology allows for more collaboration between students and teachers. Students have a sense of exploration and can become interested in learning more about a topic. Augmented reality can encourage students to a deeper level with the tasks, concepts, and resources being studied through the use of information overlays. This encouragement can cause deeper and lasting connections between the student and information.

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In conclusion, augmented and virtual realities have many benefits in the classroom. The technology can be a cheap and widely available way to engage students to learn. Although there are many apps out there, there are still many in the works in this growing area of education. Augmented and virtual realities are on the way to becoming an important part of education and its use will continue to grow as time goes on and our technology grows.


Bower, M., Howe, C., McCredie, N., Robinson, A., & Grover, D. (2014). Augmented Reality in education – cases, places and potentials. Educational Media International, 51(1), 1.

Brown, A. b., & Green, T. t. (2016). Virtual Reality: Low-Cost Tools and Resources for the         Classroom. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 60(5), 517-519.

Chih Hung, C., Jie Chi, Y., Shen, S., & Ming Chang, J. (2007). A Desktop Virtual Reality Earth Motion System in Astronomy Education. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 10(3), 289-304.

Lee, K. (2012). Augmented Reality in Education and Training. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 56(2), 13-21.

Misty, A., Corinne, B., & Kelly, S. (2014). Augmented Reality Applications in Education. The Journal Of Technology Studies, (1/2), 96.

Quintero, E., Salinas, P., González-Mendívil, E., & Ramírez, H. (2015). Augmented Reality app for Calculus: A Proposal for the Development of Spatial Visualization. Procedia Computer Science, 75(2015 International Conference Virtual and Augmented Reality in Education), 301-305

Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.


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