Augmented Reality (AR) has been used in education for over a decade now. Teachers would ask their pupils to scan a QR code which would overlay different images and videos. But how has AR developed and changed since then? What are the different ways that teachers can use AR in the classroom today? 

QR codes and image trackers 

Arguably still the most widely used form of AR, QR codes and image trackers allow pupils to reveal a 3D object or 2D information by simply scanning something with their device’s camera. This is a very simple form of AR and is a user-friendly way of introducing it into the classroom. Teachers can set up various stations around the classroom and pupils could rotate in a carousel format to investigate each of the AR markers. 

Many popular AR apps for education use QR codes and image trackers. Below are a couple of examples: 

  1. Google Expeditions – teachers can print out QR codes to place around the room and pupils can scan the codes to reveal the 3D objects. 
  2. Twinkl AR – bring story books to life with AR. Twinkl AR is just one example of the number of apps you can download to bring storybooks to life. 

Surface detection 

With the release of Apple’s ARKit and Android’s ARCore, many augmented reality apps now use surface detection rather than QR codes and image trackers. By simply scanning a flat surface, a device will be able to recognise the floor or a table top and the 3D model will be placed on here. This allows pupils for example to place dinosaurs in the middle of a classroom or drop the Colosseum in the middle of the school hall. With the improved capabilities of devices and the release of Apple’s ARKit and Android’s ARCore, surface detection is becoming the go-to way for users to experience AR. 

Below are a couple of examples for apps that user surface detection for their AR experiences: 

  1. Wonderscope – this is a great app for encouraging your pupils to read. It brings a story to life right in front of your eyes. It also uses voice recognition to track your pupils’ reading and engagement with the story. 
  2. ZooKazam – this is a great way of bringing animals into the classroom.Simply scan a surface with your device and see an animal come to life in front of your eyes. 

Location-based 

This type of AR connects an experience to a specific location. Usually, these apps are used outdoors as they benefit from having access to a large space. The device will need access to your location and maps so that it can track your movements. An example of this type of AR which gained huge popularity around the world is Pokemon Go and Harry Potter Wizards Unite. These apps aren’t necessarily very beneficial to education but there are a number of apps which can be used in the classroom to benefit from this type of AR. Teachers can create treasure/scavenger hunts for their pupils and even immersive stories. 

A couple of apps to get you started with location-based AR are: 

  1. Metaverse – Both a website and an app, this platform allows teachers or pupils to create their own scavenger hunts or immersive stories. You can set tasks based on a particular location and AR facts/clues/objects will only be revealed once this location has been reached. 
  2. Onirix – Similar to Metaverse, Onirix provides a web studio and an app to access your experiences. They have an education account which is priced very competitively and is very simple and straightforward to use. 

AR Portals

AR portals are a relatively new concept and have only been around a few years. Using a device with ARCore and ARKit, users can place a portal door to another world right in front of them. Once the portal door has been placed, users can physically walk through the portal door and then look all around (360 degrees) inside the new world, using their device. These new worlds can be 360 photos, videos or even CGI based worlds. They are a great way of opening your pupils’ imaginations and inspiring creative writing. 

A couple of apps to get you started with AR portals are: 

  1. AR Portal – this app has a choice of different 360 degree images and you can also choose the different style of portal that you want (Dr Strange or Rick and Morty are even available). 
  2. Enter the Room – this provides users with an experience to demonstrate what it is like when war comes to a child’s bedroom. This is a great app for encouraging a piece of creative writing. 

All of the different types of AR described in this article have a place in education and each one can be used to complement a lesson. Download some of the apps we’ve suggested and give them a go for yourself. PrimeVR is currently working on it’s own AR app called StoryBox AR which combines many of the aspects described above. Stay tuned to find out more!