Waves of impact: Our AR Tech Boosts Student Engagement by 243%

What is Augmented Reality?

AR is a digital layer placed on top of reality in real-time. Imagine reading about the complexity of how the Earth orbits around the sun. While having the book in front of you, you reach for your phone, and while holding it over the page you suddenly discover the whole solar system circulating right in front of your naked eyes – like in a Harry Potter movie scene. This moment is an AR experience. And this type of book is something Aschehoug Publishing House in Norway has now launched in nature and science, and anatomy.

AR moments can be fun and engaging, but more importantly they provide the reader with an enhanced view of complex concepts that are hard to grasp from pictures or plain text. By 2024 there will be an estimated 1.7 billion mobile AR user devices worldwide, a rise of 1.5 billion from the 200 million seen in 2015. Now, let's look at what this wide spread adoption can mean for the development of a more equitable education.

Two nursing students holding their phones over an anatomy book to explore the inside of a human heart in 3D (photo: Johanne Nyborg)

How can AR influence learning outcome?

In correspondence with the growing bank of international research on the pedagogical usage of AR, we get feedback from students and teachers using the books by Aschehoug that the technology is easy to learn, and that it helps include more learners.

The greatest benefits of AR as educators see it are the enhanced engagement and motivation for learning. Thus, making the learning process more effective for learning complex concepts, such as how the blood is being transported through the body, or how cells are created. When students are allowed to observe and explore from different angles, complex concepts are understood more effectively. This is supported by several literature reviews, such as this article published by Elsevier last year:

“many studies have reported AR’s effectiveness in primary, secondary and higher education to increase student motivation, learning outcomes, collaboration, interactions, learning attitudes and enjoyment. This knowledge should bring a good opportunity to utilize AR in boosting the student’s motivation to study”

But if AR is so great for learning, you might ask “why don’t we see more of it in schools or universities today?”

The challenges with AR today

The short answer is that it’s too expensive and too complex to create AR experiences. And so what ends up happening is that technology companies create inspiring 3D content – but without a pedagogical basis. Whereas on the other hand, the people with subject knowledge (such as educators and authors), lack the programming skills to visualize their learning content, and are excluded from the create process of educating through AR.

Thankfully, this trend is now changing.

A student exploring a 3D model of a uterus hovering over a textbook (photo: Johanne Nyborg)

How AR is becoming more accessible

The creativity for how mobile AR technology can be used in conjunction with regular books is endless, and we strongly believe that the technology can be implemented in any book no matter the subject, content, or objective.

In the last few years, there have been developed drag-and-drop platforms providing non-technological people with the ability to produce AR experiences. And we at Ludenso are excited to share that we are creating a tailor-made platform for editors and authors, giving access to create AR experiences in minutes. This makes it possible to decide for oneself what content to bring to life. This way authors can acquire new super powers, and bring books to life without the need of any programming skills. Soon these types of AR books will be launched in the UK for multiple STEM courses, including chemistry and physics.

One last thing…

On a final note, it should be mentioned that AR should not be used for the sake of using AR. Then it simply becomes a fun gimmick, but nothing more. When, on the other hand, you have a complex concept that can be better illustrated in 3D, or you can include people with different learning styles through videos or audio support, that is where the magic happens.

If you want to know more about AR, how textbooks can come to life, or how this is being done by publishers in Scandinavia and the UK – feel free to reach out to us at ingrid@ludenso.com, and we’d be happy to answer any questions.

How can AR technology enhance the reading experience?