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Deepen student learning with AR

By Henno Kotze
January 15, 2019
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The Innovator Solutions section includes contributions from corporate sponsors and advertisers representing education organizations, businesses, policy-making bodies and other influencers dedicated to transforming education. This blog post was provided by Metaverse.

As a senior teacher in charge of technology, I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting tech tools to augment (excuse the pun) learning and teaching. Maximizing student engagement by giving students opportunities to interact and receive feedback should, in my view, be every teacher’s key objective.

Sadly, a recent Gallup student poll found that only a third of 11-12 grade students are engaged with their studies. I believe that augmented reality (AR) has the ability to engage students in new and exciting ways, leveraging the power of technology to enhance learning and teaching.

AR is for creation not just consumption

There are a handful of tools that bring AR into the classroom, some better than others. For educators, they fall into two categories: those that offer a library of learning experiences and those that allow creation (to varying degrees of difficulty). I’ve found Metaverse to be the most robust — with the shortest learning curve — for creating augmented reality.


Transformation on the SAMR model

Before I introduce a new tool into my classrooms, I always ensure that the technology has solid theoretical underpinnings. If you evaluate Metaverse according to Pontedera's SAMR model, it lies somewhere on the “transformation” spectrum, allowing for significant task design and — with additional features such as 360-degree photos and video and AR portals — Metaverse makes the inconceivable possible.

I’ve created a number of AR experiences for different classes and grade levels. One of the more robust AR lessons is a set of experiences based on geography and architecture. It works like this:

At the beginning of each lesson, students view an augmented reality skyline and have to guess which city the buildings belong to. In each experience, students interact with architects, enter 360-degree portals (essentially floating orbs that a student could walk into and be transported to a new immersive environment) and explore 360-degree videos of famous architectural sites.


At the end of each experience, students are “given” a digital item that has been added to their inventory in the Metaverse app.

Each item is a piece of architectural equipment — something they would need in their studies, like a scale ruler or drafting lamp by the world-famous architect Le Corbusier. Students need these items to crack the puzzle of upcoming AR cityscape challenges, which in turn provide an incentive to be on time for class.

Interactive lessons activate prior knowledge

The AR cityscape experiences serve as an opener and engaging introduction to our lessons. They help activate students’ prior knowledge of the subject and also serve as a kinesthetic problem-solving activity allowing students to move around the classroom entering “magic portals” to solve the cityscapes puzzles.

By the time we are ready to sit down for the lesson, students are excited and eager to learn more — much more so than they would be if I had taken a passive, instructor-focused approach.

In addition to this lesson, I’ve created AR experiences that augment textbook activities related to academic English reading, listening lessons and general English integrated skills as well as experiences on pronunciation experiences, pairwork activities with the 360-degree photos feature, and “flipped” video lessons. View all my experiences here.

I believe the right way to get students and teachers excited about emergent technologies like AR is to let them experience it themselves. Creation can come later, but first expose them to what’s possible.

Assuring buy-in from educators and leaders

Getting teacher and management buy-in involves finding where existing material and curriculum design can be augmented and enhanced.

As David Saunders, TED-Ed Innovative Educator, says on the EdTech Chat Podcast, “The key is in finding the authentic integration opportunity in the curriculum. It’s not just an extra thing, or tech-gadget, but is a tool to further engage our students.”

Once teachers see how easy it is to create their own AR experiences, they understand that this technology is not just a “hype-storm” that will blow over soon (although Pokémon Go did not help in this regard). Rather, as Nathan Stevens puts it on the EdTech Chat podcast: “It’s not so much hype and a gamble for teachers, but more preparation for the future.”

Metaverse certainly makes this task of persuading teachers to become informed digital risk-takers and engaging language learners an easy one.

Henno Kotzé is a senior teacher at University of Queensland's Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education in Brisbane, Australia. Follow him on Twitter @hennok and connect with him on LinkedIn