Applications Of Augmented Reality Systems In Education
Applications of Augmented Reality Systems in Education
Department of Computer Science
Department of Computer Science
Padmavathi S Medicherla
Department of Computer Science
Abstract: This paper examines the varying applications of Augmented Reality (AR) systems in
different fields of education. AR is a technology that allows the superimposing of computer-
generated virtual 3D objects over real environment in real time. In recent years, there has been a
surge in AR systems in all sectors of information technology. Specifically, this paper describes the
characteristics of AR systems and its current applications in different areas of education and
training, such as mathematics, sciences, and medical. This discussion serves as a starting point for
further dialogues among researchers and educators interested in researching and building future AR
systems. Educational implications and future research directions for improving teaching and
learning 21st century skills are discussed.
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that allows computer generated virtual imagery to overlay a live
direct or indirect real-world environment in real time (Azuma, 1997; Zhou, Duh, & Billinghurst, 2008). AR is a
variation of Virtual Reality (VR) that also uses virtual objects. However, AR differs from VR in that AR is a mixed
reality that combines the real and virtual imagery, while VR immerses the user inside a computer generated virtual
environment. Hence, AR supplements reality rather than supplanting it. It bridges the gap between the real and
virtual world in a seamless way.
Several researchers (e.g., Pantelidis, 1995; Roussos, et al., 1999; William, 1993) have suggested that virtual
reality increases motivation, contributes to better learning, and enhances the educational experience for students.
Although AR’s applications for education have been implemented, its potential has only just now begun to be
explored. Specifically, AR has the potential to engage and motivate learners in exploring material from a variety of
different perspectives that would have otherwise not been possible in the real world (Kerawalla, Luckin, Seljeflot, &
Woolard, 2006). This paper discusses the applications of AR in different fields of education.
AR in Chemistry Education
AR’s applications for educational purposes have been developed and researched. A recent AR study
investigated how chemistry students interacted with AR-based models versus the physical models and evaluated
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their perceptions regarding these two representations in learning about amino acids (Chen, 2006). Figure 1 illustrates
both an AR-based and a physical model side by side. Although there were students who liked using AR to learn
about the amino acids because it was portable and easy to use as well as allowed more detail views (zoom in/out);
others felt uncomfortable using the AR marker because it wouldn’t work if the student flipped the marker since it
works on marker recognition and some actually preferred the real physical model because of its tactual quality. The
study suggests that using a cube to covey the AR recognition pattern might be a solution to addressing the issue
associated with flipping the marker. Chen’s (2006) research provides guidelines concerning designing the AR
environment for classroom setting.
Figure 1. An AR system and the physical model (Chen, 2006)
AR in Mathematical Education
Construct3D, an AR application, is a three-dimensional geometric construction tool specifically designed
for mathematics and geometry education (Kaufmann, 2006; Kaufmann & Schmalstieg, 2002; Kaufmann,
Schmalstieg, & Wagner, 2000). This application allows multiple users to share a virtual space. Students wear head
mounted displays capable of overlaying computer-generated images onto the real world. The results showed that the
AR application tool is easy to learn, encourages experimentation with geometric constructions, and improves spatial
skills. Their setup uses a stereoscopic head mounted display (HMD) and the Personal Interaction Panel (PIP) for
allowing two-handed 3D interaction with virtual 3D models as illustrated in Figure 2. More recently, (Kaufmann,
2009) has introduced AR in dynamic differential geometry education in a wide range of ways. For instance, using
the AR tool, teacher and students can intuitively explore properties of interesting curves, surfaces, and others.
AR in Spatial Ability Training
Spatial ability training using AR was explored by Dünser, et al. (2006). This is one of the first large-scale
studies that involved 215 students in investigating human behavior and cognitive processes. The main research
questions addressed by this study were whether spatial ability can be trained/improved using an AR-based
application; and if there were any gender-specific training differences. Similar to geometry education AR in
pervious section, Construct3D was also used to design and conduct the research. The study followed a pre-
test/training/post-test deign. The effectiveness of an AR-based training versus the VR CAD3D-based training
program results was analyzed. The study did not find clear evidence on the effectiveness of using an AR-based
training tool over the VR tool.
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Figure 2. Students working with construct3D inscribe a sphere in a cone (Kaufmann & Schmalstieg, 2002).
AR in Surgical Training
Minimally Invasive Therapy (MIT) is very important in modern medicine. It enabled faster recovery time,
thereby reducing cost and hospitalization duration. However, the introduction of MIT has also poses surgical
challenges due to small incision. AR systems were developed to provide training, planning and guiding surgical
procedures (De Paolis, Pulimeno, & Aloisio, 2008; Shuhaiber, 2004) to address some of these challenges. ARIS*ER
(Augmented Reality in Surgery – European Research network) project has brought together a multi-disciplinary
science team consisting of scientists from the cognitive, engineering, applied mathematical, and medicinal sciences
to develop AR image-guided therapy (Samseta, Schmalstiegb, Slotenc Vander, & Freudenthal, 2008). Liver surgery
planning using AR has also been developed (Hansen, Wieferich, Ritter, Rieder, & Peitgen, 2009; Reitinger, Bornik,
Beichel, & Schmalstieg, 2006).
AR in Physics Education
Physics, without exception, is another area where AR can also be used to demonstrate various kinematics
properties. Duarte, Cardoso, and Lamounier Jr. (2005) used AR to dynamically present object that varies in time,
such as velocity and acceleration. The real and estimated experimental results can be visualized using AR
techniques which are more interesting, and thus improve learning. The research by Chae and Ko (2008)
demonstrated that physics simulation is added to objects using open dynamics engine (ODE) library.
AR in Geography Education
The use of AR systems in educational settings includes a system that helps undergraduate geography
students understand earth-sun relationships (Shelton & Hedley, 2002). More than 30 students participated in the
project that provided exercises designed to teach concepts, such as rotation, revolution, solstice, equinox, light and
temperature. Shelton and Hedley found a significant overall improvement in student understanding and reduction in
student misunderstandings after the AR exercises. While the AR exercises used in the study did not change the
delivery mechanism of lessons, they supplemented the way that core content was understood.
AR in K-12 Education
Smart (System of augmented reality for teaching) is an educational system which was developed by Freitas
and Campos (2008). This system uses AR for teaching 2nd grade-level concepts, such as the means of transportation
and types of animals. This system superimposes three dimensional models and prototypes, such as a car, track, and
airplane, on the real time video feed shown to the whole class. Since most children spend a great deal of time
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playing digital games, game based learning is one way to engage children in learning. Several experiments by
Freitas and Campos were performed with 54 students in three different schools in Portugal. The results indicated
that SMART helps increase motivation among students and it has a positive impact on the learning experiences of
these students, especially among the less academically successful students.
AR classroom (Liu, et al., 2007) and AR games (Schrier, 2006) have also been developed to teach 21st
century skills. These systems were properly designed with K-12 pedagogy in mind. Results of these initial studies
suggest that AR systems can provide motivating, entertaining, and engaging environments conducive for learning.
However, more research is needed in this area to assess the effectiveness of incorporating AR games into a
traditional pedagogical environment.
Usability testing of the AR system in schools has been studied and evaluated by researchers (e.g., Balog,
Pribeanu, & Dragos, 2007; Lamanauskas, et al., 2007), revealing that the educational value of an AR system is
attractive, stimulating and exciting for students, and that both quantitative and qualitative data demonstrate that this
system can provide cost-effective support for the users. Measurement scale was developed by Balog and Pribeanu
(2009) for assessing three core features of an AR-based teaching platform: (1) usability, (2) pedagogical application,
and (3) motivational value.
The AR systems have important implications for education. First and foremost, previous research has
demonstrated that they hold potential for enhancing learning and teaching in the area of educational technology.
However, despite the fact that many AR research learning systems have been developed, AR learning in a real
classroom setting is still at its infancy. The effectiveness of AR in enhancing teaching and learning still needs to be
further researched by assessing students’ levels of involvement and motivation. The integration of AR systems with
the traditional learning and teaching pedagogy needs to be carefully designed and evaluated. Lastly, the cost and
other issues associated with mass deployment of AR systems still need to be addressed.
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