Augmented Reality

Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years

Augmented reality, a capability that has been around for decades, is shifting from what was once seen as a gimmick to a bonafide game-changer. The layering of information over 3D space produces a new experience of the world, sometimes referred to as “blended reality,” and is fueling the broader migration of computing from the desktop to the mobile device, bringing with it new expectations regarding access to information and new opportunities for learning. While the most prevalent uses of augmented reality so far have been in the consumer sector (for marketing, social engagement, amusement, or location-based information), new uses seem to emerge almost daily, as tools for creating new applications become ever easier to use.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning, or Creative Inquiry

  • Augmented reality has strong potential to provide both powerful contextual, in situ learning experiences and serendipitous exploration and discovery of the connected nature of information in the real world.
  • Students visiting historic sites can access AR applications that overlay maps and information about how the location looked at different points of history.
  • Games that are based in the real world and augmented with networked data can give educators powerful new ways to show relationships and connections.

In Practice

  • Handheld Augmented Reality Project (HARP) is a project for middle school students to help teach math and science literary skills using AR technology. The project is developed by Harvard, University of Wisconsin, and MIT:
  • PairBurst Memory is an augmented reality game designed for children to help improve their memory skills. It was initially designed to help children pass the time while they recover from rehabilitative surgery:
  • The Games, Animation, Modeling and Simulation (GAMeS) Lab at Radford University has designed AR games for K12 students using Apple iPhones/iPod Touch and Android smartphones. The story-based participatory game system is called ROAR (Radford Outdoor Augmented Reality):
  • The Powerhouse Museum in Australia has successfully implemented AR using the Layar AR browser to deliver content to iPhone and Android smartphones:

For Further Reading

What is the future of education? An Exploration of Technology and Learning Modalities
(Jesse Nickelson,, 16 November 2010.) This post by Washington DC’s Director of International Baccalaurette programs discusses some of the benefits of using AR in K12 education. He specifically mentions the AR game Alien Contact as a notable game using AR technology.

Stories of Impact - Harvard’s Chris Dede Discussing Augmented Reality in K12 Education
(Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, 5 April 2010.) Education researcher Chris Dede with Harvard’s Graduate School of Education discusses the value and research behind using augmented reality in K12 education.

Logical Choice Technologies’ Letters Alive AR Platform
(Logical Choice Technologies,, accessed 9 March 2011.) This is a new AR platform that integrates into curriculum for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten aged children. It is aimed at teaching children to read using animals and letters in an augmented reality system to both engage and immerse the children in a productive learning environment.