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The Battle of Realities

What’s the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality, you ask? Virtual reality or VR is a technology that simulates a three-dimensional world for users to explore using a headset or tablet. Augmented reality or AR is a digital display of the physical world that includes added objects or elements using a camera lens. Another difference among many, AR can be accessed using a mobile device only while VR requires a headset and mobile device. Two quick examples of augmented reality are the popular game/app Pokemon Go and the Ikea app. Using AR mode on Pokemon Go, any gamer can put their pokemon character in a real-time environment using their mobile device. The Ikea app uses AR and allows users to scan a room and place furniture in a room before purchasing it. 

Augmented reality is not monolithic yet has several forms and functionalities. These forms include location-based/markerless, marker-based, and superimposition. Location-based AR provides location detection in smartphones for GPS. Superimposition Based AR provides a replacement view of the object the camera lens is focusing on. Marker-based AR locates an object. The recognition of the object depends on the marker. Once the object is located, the user can then rotate the object or the marker.

Augmented reality has proven to be beneficial in educational settings. Augmented reality provides an active rather than a passive learning environment. AR is less expensive than VR and easy to maintain. This provides students with an opportunity to incorporate the use of their own devices at times when they’d be off-limits. In addition, it’s easier for educators and students to use their own devices if their school is not yet 1-to-1 with devices. An example of using AR in the classroom is a simple history lesson. The Smithsonian created an AR app, “Moonshot,” specifically for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission to the moon. This app allows students to become immersed and learn about the mission from beginning to end. Augmented reality is even used to boost creative expression through coloring apps for young children. 

Augmented reality is used in an array of subjects, ages, and grades. The use of augmented reality in grade school can prepare students for a multitude of higher education courses. For example, medical students have used AR for anatomy courses to study organs in 3D and prepare for exercises in cadaver labs. Outside of education, organizations use AR to onboard and train their employees. Incorporating AR into classrooms is still a new concept. However, exposure to these technologies can spark innovation and interest in STEM and prepare students for future jobs, especially in careers such as graphic design, software engineering, and project management. 

This blog post was written by Makeda Royal, Ed Farm Summer 2021 Intern. Makeda Royal is a recent graduate of Dillard University, receiving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology. In the Fall, Makeda will be attending the University of Kansas to pursue her Master’s degree in Higher Education.