Augmented Reality (AR) for Learning

What is “Augmented Reality (AR)”?

Through the wonders of technology, we can overlay computer-generated content on objects in the real world. This is a little different from “virtual reality”. Virtual reality is a completely computer-generated environment and AR uses the real environment as a foundation.

Why would I want to use AR?

AR can support learning, remembering, problem-solving and more. Imagine associating a video with the class “word of the week”.  If you are teaching the word “speed”, you could add a video of a fast train or a cheetah. We can use AR to support a person to remember a list of steps.

What do I need?

AR uses an app with a mobile screen or goggles. Sometimes, the user holds a mobile screen such as a tablet or phone up to something that triggers the AR product. Other times, the goggles act as the screen. There are even goggles that you put a phone in.

How do I use AR?

The following is a list of apps and devices can be used to support learning in multiple environments.  As the world of Augmented Reality (AR) expands, the list is sure to grow. There are many ways that AR can be used to support learning and participation for people with and without disabilities.

Image result for hp reveal logoHP Reveal

The first iteration of this app was called Aurasma. This app allows you to create “Auras” associated with particular objects or images on an iOS or Android device.  It lets you use augmented reality in some exciting ways.

In other words, you can take a picture of an object, or an image, and associate content with that image.  Once you create an Aura, you can use the app to scan that image and your content, such as a video or website, will open.

In the workplace, this app could be used to help someone remember their daily schedule of tasks, break down a complex task into steps, or help someone remember what to do if a problem arises and they have a question.

How could this potentially be used for supporting students?   Use the app to create Auras to add to your classroom word wall.

Flip this around and you could use the app to allow your students to create videos to aid in presenting their work.  Do you have a student who hesitates to present in front of the entire class? Have them create an Aura and the other students can access a presentation through their smartphone.

 Image of the Clips app logoClips

To make your “Auras” accessible, use the Clips app to film and instant caption your videos!

More AR/VR Apps

Image result for Virtualspeech VR courses logoVirtualSpeech 

VR courses (goggles needed) Practice business skills in the VirtualSpeech app, including public speaking, answering interview questions, sales pitches, networking, presentations, and language learning. Train in immersive virtual reality environments.

This app could be used to help people with a fear of public speaking prepare for the world of work.  It may prove useful to people with social cognitive deficits who need that extra edge to be successful in a job interview.

Image result for NASA’s Spacecraft 3d logo NASA’s Spacecraft 3D

NASA’s Spacecraft 3D is an AR application that lets you learn about and interact with a variety of spacecraft that are used to explore our solar system, study Earth, and observe the universe. Using a printed AR Target and the camera on your mobile device, you can get up close with these robotic explorers, see how they move, and learn about the engineering feats used to expand our knowledge and understanding of space. Inspire future STEM explorers!

Image result for Quiver app logoQuiver

The Quiver App combines physical coloring from “back in the day” with state of the art augmented reality technology to bring you and your children an extraordinarily magical experience. Print coloring pages from the website. Use the app to make your art come to life in 3D!

Image result for Figment app logoFigment

Figment turns your world into an augmented funhouse. Create imaginative scenes out of the world around you. Add interactive emoji, animals and other playful objects to your surroundings, create “portals” to step into another dimension, and add environmental effects like snow, fireworks and more. This app could be used to inspire students with creative writing assignments.

Image result for Field Trip app logo Field Trip

Field Trip, your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you is now on the iPhone. Field Trip runs in the background on your phone. When you get close to something interesting, it will notify you and if you have a headset or bluetooth connected, it can even read the info to you.

Field Trip can help you learn about everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk next to those places.

Image result for AR Freedom Stories app logo AR Freedom Stories  

Augmented Reality Freedom Stories highlights seldom told African Canadian histories from the era of the Canada/US Underground Railroad including Harriet Tubman’s efforts to bring American slaves to freedom in Canada. Primary and secondary documents have been hand-crafted in consultation with community partners into a unique experience that has been approved for use as part of an Ontario primary school curriculum as part of the Breaking the Chains history project.

Image of a Merge Cube Merge Cube  

The Merge Cube is a toy hologram that you can hold in the palm of your hand, and it works with free apps downloaded onto your iOS or Android smart device at the Merge Miniverse site. The Merge cube lets you play your favorite games with or without virtual reality goggles. You can buy this device online for around $10.00.  Last checked, the Merge goggles cost around $30.00.

Apps for the Merge Cube

  • Dig (FREE)
  • DinoDigger ($1.99) …
  • HoloGlobe (FREE) …
  • Galactic Explorer (FREE) …
  • MyARquarium (FREE) …
  • Mr. Body (FREE) …
  • Elemental Order ($1.99) …
  • Th!ngs (FREE) …


These apps might be “games”, but can be used to teach about anatomy, the planets, or the tools of a paleontologist. Merge goggles can be used to make the images “pop” into 3D, but you don’t have to use them.  The image on your phone alone is still very impressive.

Image of Merge Cube goggles

Some hospitals are already using augmented and virtual reality to allow long-term patients to explore environments outside of their hospital room.  There are potential applications for the use of AR/VR for people with complex bodies, allowing them to experience virtual environments which they are not able to access physically. Examples might include climbing a mountain, riding a roller coaster, or going up in a hot air balloon.  *This is not a substitute for making everyday environments accessible to all!

Augmented environments are not simply app-based.  I have just discovered the world of 3D Youtube videos! These videos use a split screen. They can be watched using Merge goggles, or other VR headsets, such as Google Cardboard VR. Learn, have fun, and let’s see what the future of AR has to offer!

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Kathryn Helland

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