Mar 28 2019

3 Exciting Ways to Use Augmented and Virtual Reality in the K–12 Classroom

Bringing distant places closer to students and boosting retention through enhanced visual cues, AR/VR adds value to teaching and learning.

Some teachers who have already incorporated augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology into their classrooms or lesson plans have seen amazing benefits in student engagement and retention.

The technology is still so new in K–12, but we can see it has huge potential. One upside is its ability to transport students to other times and places, truly immersing them in lessons and offering firsthand experiences that could only be matched by actually visiting places in person. Are there downsides? 

Certainly, as with any new technology tool, great planning and care must be taken to ensure age-appropriate content is used and that the amount of time spent with these tools is also appropriately measured according to age and experience level.

Teachers and technology leaders should be sure to follow best practices for incorporating such tools in the classroom. Remember that VR, in particular, is not a toy. It’s important that lessons planned for the technology also incorporate non-AR/VR content to ensure students learn about the concepts in other ways. 

Students also need adequate physical space to use the tools, particularly when wearing VR headsets. Those students using the technology for the first time will need room to stretch out. Be sure to also allow appropriate time for students to take breathers and process all of the rich, multisensory experiences the technology provides.

I wanted to share a few of the cooler uses for AR/VR I’ve heard about recently as well as some tips for how to incorporate the technology effectively in a lesson plan.

MORE FROM EDTECH: Check out how K–12 teachers are using VR to teach computer science.

1. Take K–12 Students on a Trip with VR

VR headsets range in functionality and price points, but it’s easy to get started with tools like Lenovo’s or with Google Cardboard. Headsets in hand, no virtual field trip is complete without Google Expeditions

The app offers more than 900 VR experiences — and growing every day — for students of all ages to explore. Given so many options, it’s easy to find content that fits almost any subject. 

2. Drive Coding Concepts Home with AR

As EdTech reported recently, preliminary scientific evidence found using augmented reality platforms can give students an advantage when it comes to learning code. 

A study conducted at Georgia Tech found that students who used mobile augmented reality platforms to learn coding performed better on assessments than their counterparts. 

“We also melded the missions of coding in education with AR for this exploratory study to see if we could get favorable results in timing tests and user experiences,” says Sam Ford, a machine learning engineer, formerly with Qualcomm. “We ultimately found favorable results in timing tests and user experiences overall when learning code and using AR.” 

A prominent theory behind why virtual and augmented reality platforms are so effective is that providing interactive, visual examples of coding principles helps students retain what they’ve learned. For the sixth, seventh and more advanced grades, Metaverse offers an awesome AR tool that promotes coding skills and gamifies learning.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Samsung Gear VR SM-R325 Galaxy Note8 Transforms the Classroom Experience.

3. Turn Students into Content Creators

EdTech recently reported that several students from ‘Iolani School in Hawaii who visited a local organic farm worked to turn the trip into a VR experience that students at other schools could enjoy. 

In the future, students there will work to virtualize more local sites, including Pearl Harbor and places with cultural significance, says Michael Fricano II, one of the school’s technology integration specialists.

“When students are the creators of their own learning, they internalize the content and get more passionate about it,” Fricano told EdTech. “VR just has that wow factor that really gets students excited and engaged. We’ve seen nothing but benefits.”

This article is part of the "Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology" series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology
mediaphotos/Getty Images

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.