Exploring augmented reality for education

At Oxford, we’ve been shaping Australian learning since 1908. Education is at the heart of all we do, and this is why we’re committed to producing high-quality resources to inspire every learner to achieve their very best. Our commitment to education research supports the investigation of new pedagogies and technologies to pioneer innovation in our resources to benefit Australian teachers and students.

Recently we have been exploring how augmented reality (AR) could work to extend and support print textbooks in the classroom. By combining visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic stimulation for an immersive learning experience, we hypothesised that AR could be particularly good for learning contexts in which visualisation and spatialisation are imperative for embedding concepts. Through an in-built camera on a mobile device, AR overlays digital information and multimedia on real-world objects such as the printed page, making images three-dimensional and interactive.

Our investigation led to collaborating with Melbourne Girls Grammar to trial a prototype of an AR layer over pages from the Oxford Atlas+ for Australian Schools. We observed students in a classroom environment using tablets to activate animations and images from the printed atlas pages. These images, which support the Science and Humanities and Social Sciences curricula for Years F–6 , included aerial and spliced views of a volcano erupting, a comparison of motor vehicle aerodynamics, and a visualisation of electricity.

We observed students interacting with the technology and utilising digital literacy skills to interact with content to visualise it. They communicated their ideas and knowledge with each other and demonstrated critical-thinking and problem-solving behaviours in their learning, and were drawn back to the printed text for more information. During the trial we observed a student’s ‘light bulb’ moment with their understanding of air resistance after using the technology; another student expressed interest in how the technology was made and another said it made her learning easier.

We will continue to trial and explore tools and technology such as AR as potential ways to develop and enhance our educational resources of the future. By working with school partners such as Melbourne Girls Grammar, we can gain an understanding of the impact of new tools and technologies to support teaching and learning in the classroom.

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