From primary to higher education, augmented reality apps have already become students’ textbooks, acted as a science lab, or have even been used as a time machine. And the market for educational AR apps is only growing, with one January 2021 report projecting it to grow from $8.34 billion in 2020 to $29.89 billion by 2025.
AR apps in school don’t have to be seen as a supplement to the traditional methods of learning anymore. They can be used as the primary learning vehicle, improving critical thinking skills and encouraging motivation, in ways that textbooks, slides, and lectures never could, among many other studied benefits. Plus, schools and teachers can save time and money on field trips or expensive equipment by using the basic equipment they probably already have like desktop computers, tablets, projectors, and smartphones.
Here are some impressive AR apps that are paving the way now for universal AR use in future classrooms around the world.
Through the Desktop AR computer app, students can drive NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover on the surface of the Red Planet, and take a closer look at how the machine works — all without leaving their desktop computer. 4D Interactive Anatomy’s tablet app gives students the ability to search and see the inner layers and organs of the human body through high-resolution scans of cadavers.
For the younger students, there are charts, puzzles, books, and toys of dinosaurs, planets, or even the periodic table that will “come to life” through the Popar app on their smartphone or tablet.
Targeted at higher education level students, the GeoGebra 3D Graphic Calculator phone and tablet app can let you walk around 3D math objects and visualize 3D graphs on the surface in front of you.
For grades K-12, the Shapes 3D apps help students understand spatial geometry. The younger students can fold and unfold 3D shapes while the older students can rotate the shapes and “draw on them” to discover their properties.
And for those students (and parents) that need support to work out a math problem on the page, the Photomath app can scan handwritten math problems using a smartphone or tablet’s camera and help you solve the equation, step by step.
Hidden in Google’s Arts & Culture website are what they call “Expeditions.” These are virtual field trips where the teacher can lead students through different destinations and cultural artifacts through 360° panoramas and 2D imagery. There are history expeditions taking students around Stonehenge or Egypt, among other locations, but there are other expeditions in subjects like art and geography as well.
For a more detailed focus, the BBC’s Civilisations AR app brings historic artifacts from UK museums into the classroom. Students can scale, rotate, and even use “x-ray vision” to see the layers of a painting or a mummy. Development on the app has ended but the app is still available to download and use as of this writing.
An important part of learning any language is immersion and the Mondly AR app will insert an animated native speaker into your classroom or home to practice your pronunciations and conversational skills. It also brings animals and objects into the room to help learners remember vocabulary.
But for those students that need help with English, the MARVL app can help. It uses AR to scan downloadable flashcards to help memorize vocabulary, but the app also combines the student’s first language with English so that they can learn even if their parents don’t speak English. The app is currently in early access.
There are plenty of other areas for AR to be used in the classroom. The CoSpace Edu app helps students learn to code, create their own stories and games, or design their own virtual exhibition. While in the Assemblr EDU app, teachers can create their own engaging, AR-powered, and collaborative lesson plans covering a range of subjects.
For the pre-school- and kindergarten-aged children, there’s the Quiver app, which brings to life the characters and paper masks as they’ve been colored on the page.
AR has such potential to become a standard tool in classrooms globally. Students get meaningful and memorable experiences while teachers have more options on hand to help their pupils learn.