Augmented reality

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Augmented reality (AR) systems

  • combine the virtual and the real (or the opposite)
  • are interactive in real time
  • render (most often) in 3D

“Augmented reality (AR). One type of immersive virtual environment is called augmented reality. AR can be defined as computer-mediated scaffolding of a real environment. Freina and Ott (2015) proposed that AR provides a view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are integrated with computer-generated sensory input. Persefoni and Tsinakos (2015) suggested that AR lets one experience the world with virtual objects without losing a sense of reality.” (Gandolfi, Ferdig, & Immel ,2018 [1]).

“Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer research which deals with the combination of real world and computer generated data.” (Augmented reality)

“"The internet smeared all over everything." An "enchanted window" that turns contextual information hidden all around us inside out. A platform that will be bigger than the Web. Those are the kinds of phrases being used to describe the future of what's called Augmented Reality (AR), by specialists developing the technology to enable” (Augmented Reality: 5 Barriers to a Web That's Everywhere, ReadWriteWeb, Aug 24 2009.)

A variant of Augment Reality (AR) systems are tangible AR Systems [2], i.e. the user can interact with a virtual system by manipulating physical objects, e.g. tokens that sit on board.

See immersive virtual environment and virtual reality for related subjects.

Benefits for education

Radu (2014)[3], trough a literature review of 26 comparative AR publications, identified several positive and negative effects of AR on learning, as well as potential factors underlying these effects.

Documented learning benefits from AR include:

  1. Increased content understanding
  2. Long-term memory retention
  3. Improved physical task performance
  4. Improved collaboration
  5. Increased student motivation

Learning detriments from augmented reality include:

  1. Attention tunneling
  2. Usability difficulties
  3. Ineffective classroom integration
  4. Learner differences

More interestingly, the author's review identified the following factors that can influence learning in AR:

  1. Content is represented in novel ways, e.g. body-based metaphors and life-like 3D objects.
  2. Multiple representations appear at the appropriate time/space, i.e. implement Mayer's [Multimedia presentation|[spatial contiguity principle]]
  3. The learner is physically enacting the educational concepts, i.e. the learning process may encode body movements at the same time.
  4. Attention is directed to relevant content, since AR elements (overlayed on a picture of the reality) highlight important elements
  5. The learner is interacting with a 3D simulation, i.e. benefit from the typical advantages of computer simulations
  6. Interaction and collaboration are natural, since learners can use their body to manipulate content and transfer knowledge and interactions from the real world into the experience.

A interesting outcome of Radu's is a heuristic questionnaire that allow identifying AR applications that maximize the medium's learning potential.

  1. The application transforms the problem representation such that difficult concepts are easier to understand.
  2. The application presents relevant educational information at the appropriate time and place, providing easy access to information and/or reducing extraneous learner tasks.
  3. The application directs learner attention to important aspects of the educational experience.
  4. The application enables learners to physically enact, or to feel physically immersed in, the educational concepts.
  5. The application permits students to interact with spatially challenging phenomena.
    - (Radu, 2014, p. 1541)

Challenges of AR use in education

In their review of 68 articles, Akçayır et Akçayır (2017)[4] find similar benefits to using AR in education as Radu (2014), but they also identified a list of challenges that come with this technology, including but not limited to the following:

  1. AR is difficult for students to use (highlighting the importance of it's usability)
  2. Technical problems
  3. AR might cause cognitive overload (due to the amount of material and/or complexity of the tasks)


Software libraries

  • ARToolKit. ARToolKit was originally developed by Dr. Hirokazu Kato, and its ongoing development is being supported by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) at the University of Washington, HIT Lab NZ at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and ARToolworks, Inc, Seattle.

On mobile phones

Light-weight augmented Reality systems start appearing on mobile phones.

Mobile phone AR technology does not seem to be standardized. Do we have to expect an AR browser war over the next few years ? (Daniel K. Schneider 13:00, 7 September 2009 (UTC))

Technology examples:




Cited with footnotes

  1. Gandolfi, E., Ferdig, R. E., & Immel, Z. (2018). Educational opportunities for augmented reality. In Voogt, J., Knezek, G., Christensen, R., & Lai, K. W. (Eds.). Second Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education (pp. 968-977). Springer.
  2. Billinghurst, M., Kato, H., & Poupyrev, I. (2001, August). Collaboration with tangible augmented reality interfaces. In HCI international (Vol. 1, pp. 5-10).
  3. Radu, I., 2014. Augmented reality in education: a meta-review and cross-media analysis. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 18(6), pp.1533-1543.
  4. Akçayır, M., & Akçayır, G. (2017). Advantages and challenges associated with augmented reality for education: A systematic review of the literature. Educational Research Review, 20, 1–11.


  • Billinghurst, M. (2002). Augmented reality in education. New horizons for learning, 12(5), 1-5.
  • Billinghurst, M., Kato, H., & Poupyrev, I. (2001, August). Collaboration with tangible augmented reality interfaces. In HCI international (Vol. 1, pp. 5-10).
  • Bujak, K.R., Radu, I., Catrambone, R., Macintyre, B., Zheng, R. and Golubski, G., 2013. A psychological perspective on augmented reality in the mathematics classroom. Computers & Education, 68, pp.536-544.
  • Cai, S., Chiang, F.K., Sun, Y., Lin, C. and Lee, J.J., 2017. Applications of augmented reality-based natural interactive learning in magnetic field instruction. Interactive Learning Environments, 25(6), pp.778-791
  • Chan, J., Pondicherry, T. and Blikstein, P., 2013, June. LightUp: an augmented, learning platform for electronics. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 491-494). ACM.
  • Clark, A. M., & Clark, M. T. G. (2016). Pokemon go and research: Qualitative, ‘mixed methods research, and the supercomplexity of interventions. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 15(1).
  • Dunleavy, M. and Dede, C., 2014. Augmented reality teaching and learning. In Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 735-745). Springer, New York, NY.
  • Dünser, A., Walker, L., Horner, H. and Bentall, D., 2012, November. Creating interactive physics education books with augmented reality. In Proceedings of the 24th Australian computer-human interaction conference (pp. 107-114). ACM.
  • Ibáñez, M.B., Di Serio, Á., Villarán, D. and Kloos, C.D., 2014. Experimenting with electromagnetism using augmented reality: Impact on flow student experience and educational effectiveness. Computers & Education, 71, pp.1-13.
  • Kidd S.H. & H. Crompton (2'1&). “Augmented learning with augmented reality,” in Mobile Learning Design, Springer, pp. 97–108.
  • Phon, D.N.E., Ali M.B. and N. D. A. Halim, “Collaborative augmented reality in education: A review,” in Teaching and Learning in Computing and Engineering (LaTiCE), 2014 International Conference on, 2014, pp. 78–83.
  • Radu, Iulian and Bertrand Schneider (2019). What Can We Learn from Augmented Reality (AR)?: Benefits and Drawbacks of AR for Inquiry-based Learning of Physics. In Proceedings of CHI '19: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '19), May 04, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA,
  • Wu, H. K., Lee, S. W. Y., Chang, H. Y., & Liang, J. C. (2013). Current status, opportunities and challenges of augmented reality in education. Computers & Education, 62, 41–49.