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How to bring augmented reality to e-learning in a successful way

One of the technologies that will undoubtedly be an absolute protagonist during the next decade is making its way into distance learning: it is augmented reality. For years, we have heard talk of this tool as a way that opens up infinite possibilities in unexpected fields, such as e-learning. But moving from theory to practice seems to be costing quite a lot so far.

After years of projects that have been limited and pilot programs that have been restricted to environments far from the user, augmented reality seems to be ready to make the big leap to the user. At the moment, their advances seem to be limited to a more playful aspect, with a multitude of apps that are beginning to emerge and that carry this implemented technology.

In fact, large companies such as Google or Apple seem to be very interested in being among the first to bring this new technology to the general public, launching programs or platforms for the creation of augmented reality tools.

Virtual reality and its many possibilities in online training

But what is augmented reality? It’s about combining digital or virtual elements with elements of real life. In other words, a real environment is presented through an electronic device, creating an augmented reality that is updated in real time. This gives rise to a series of experiences that cannot be enjoyed only with technological elements or separate physical elements.

Augmented reality is, together with Big Data, one of the key elements of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution, which would give rise to an Intelligent Industry, based on a new series of tools organized in a different way from how we organize them today.

As already explained, this new phase of technology is still in a very embryonic phase, and is limited to more playful terrains such as games. However, the scope of augmented reality cannot be underestimated, especially given the link that already exists between education and play, and which has given rise to educational currents as interesting as gamification.

Critics of this new technology have historically argued that the experience of use is still very unreal, that implementation times and costs are outrageously high and that, while impressive, it has no real practical purpose.

However, new generations of mobile devices and other state-of-the-art devices are reversing these disadvantages. Quality has increased dramatically in the last two years, while the proliferation of augmented reality technologies has lowered the costs of a market that was once prohibitive, and more and more purposes are being found for this new technology stream.

What are the advantages of taking augmented reality to distance education?

The most obvious is that it turns the learning process into a more enjoyable and interactive experience, which stimulates the students’ desire to acquire knowledge.

Moreover, as augmented reality is linked to electronic elements, it is the perfect candidate to implement it in e-learning. Students’ progress can also be monitored in real time, so it’s another way to track progress and know if the online course is well-focused or not.

Augmented reality projects have already been carried out in the field of education. For example, the one that the LabHuman-I3BH group, from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, has carried out together with the Consellería de Educación de Valencia.

With this project, the textbooks are accompanied by codes that, when passed through the mobile phone, result in images in three dimensions. This makes it easier for students to get to know concepts such as human anatomy. There have also been other incursions of augmented reality in educational sectors such as health or industry.

Therefore, it is not difficult to imagine that this technology can be implemented in the same way in distance education. To implement these technologies, interactive tools and tasks can be created that send students on missions or work in the outside world.

As discussed above, we – at Mark McGuinn, believes that augmented reality applications are flourishing, so it would be a great idea to use them for educational work.

What is certain is that augmented reality, despite the fact that for many years there was a feeling that it would never take off, is already in full swing, and over the next few years a real revolution in education and the way people communicate with each other through smart devices is expected.

A current that, thanks to the facilities being given to developers and the proliferation of new and increasingly advanced technologies, promises to change the concept of education.