21 great tools for AR and VR in the classroom

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Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on student engagement and online or hybrid learning strategies related to pandemic teaching. This year’s 10th most-read story focuses on engaging AR and VR tools to use in the classroom.

Nearly everyone has experienced augmented reality and virtual reality to some degree, and while they’re fun, AR and VR can also be incredibly powerful when integrated into classroom learning.

During an engaging ISTELive 21 session, Jennifer Hall, NBCT, an educational technology specialist with Atlanta Public Schools, outlined an abundance of AR and VR apps for students and educators.

Augmented reality is the idea that you’re bringing something into your real world and using your device to see something that isn’t actually there. Animation or 3D images come into your real world. Virtual reality is where a person is immersed in the experience, as if they’re actually there.

So, why bring AR and VR into classrooms?

  • Accelerate understanding: Make it possible for students to comprehend complex phenomena more efficiently by experiencing it first-hand.
  • Deepen engagement: AR and VR add the sense of touch to digital content, and being immersed in virtual worlds gives students a profound connection to the content
  • Do the impossible: Using AR and VR give students access to experiences schools don’t necessarily have a budget for. The technologies empower students to do things that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous to do in person.
  • Support active learning: Using the hands and body to interact with 3D objects and environments stimulates natural learning pathways, allowing students to intuitively explore and absorb knowledge.
  • Spark a love for STEM: Using AR and VR to teach STEM concepts can spark student interests in pursuing STEM-related degrees.
  • Develop spatial intelligence: Spatial intelligence is a foundational ability that lets us generate and recall visual images. Students with strong spatial intelligence abilities tend to excel in STEM fields. This is important for students with special needs, too, because using AR and VR can help these students develop spatial intelligence skills.
Laura Ascione
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