Augmented Reality and Learning

With the release of iOS 11 a few days ago, and Apple’s efforts to increase their devices capabilities when it comes to Augmented Reality, I have been thinking about the implications that this technology has in the eLearning field.

On the first place, let’s review the definition of augmented reality. What is Augmented reality?

Ronald T. Azuma, in his paper “A Survey of Augmented Reality”, defines AR as a variation of Virtual Reality, that allows the user to see the real world, with virtual objects superimposed upon or composited with the real world, supplementing it.

Now, where can this be applied in training for a company? One of the things that I can think of, is that augmented reality can be used for the onboarding of new employees at a company.

How can this be done? Let’s keep in mind that there are different ways to present AR to the learners, but for the purposes of this article, let’s say that we will use our mobile devices and markers (a marker is a graphical object placed on the real world that our AR app uses to show information to the user).

Picture the following scenario: You have just been hired to work at Pathways (congratulations!) and it is your first day, given the nature of the business, it is very common that your supervisor is out of the office in client meetings, so you are tasked with going through the onboarding program in its entirety, and our supervisor will check the results later. For this program you are asked to use your mobile device, going to a specified link (or downloading the corresponding app) and walk around office to find all the information available that will then be evaluated. As you walk, you find located in different places, symbols like this one (markers):

As you use the camera on your phone to focus on this marker, a piece of information will appear on screen, like an overview of Pathways values, information about our clients, or even information about the employees at the company. What’s cool is that this information can be presented as text, images or even video.

Once you find all the markers in the office (let’s say you had to find 10 different markers), you are automatically redirected to a knowledge check (still on your phone) that will evaluate what you have just learned, and then this report is sent to your supervisor, or stored in the LMS.

But I think, this is just one of the ways to use AR in a learning environment. We can even make it more interesting by gamifying it, how? Well, we can have a leader board, showing who completed the program in the least amount of time, or who achieved the highest score. We can even think about doing a short scavenger hunt in the office, with puzzles and riddles to solve to be able to find all the information, and tracking times and scores.

As the technology advances, we can certainly think of different ways to revamp our learning methods, and take advantage of the newest tools out there.

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