What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that lays computer-generated virtual imagery on top of a live direct or indirect real-world environment in real time (Azuma, 1997). This disruptive technology is growing at a significant pace due to its new and innovative nature (Bower & Christensen, 1995; Wu, Wen-Yu Lee, Chang & Liang, 2012). Currently, AR is mostly being used for advertising and commercial purposes, and in the entertainment, medical and educational fields (Carmigniani, Furht, Anisetti, Ceravolo & Damiani, 2011). AR’s usefulness in educational contexts has driven the focus of the creation of myself and Marylee Ang-Sadecki’s Google Site, Augmented Reality 101 (AR 101), as educators are recognizing its numerous benefits to teaching and learning (Lee, 2012).  This site can be found at: Augmented Reality 101.

AR enhances reality, presenting content in 3D perspectives. It promotes collaboration and strengthens the sense of presence, immediacy, and immersion in learning. Bridging formal and informal learning, AR also enables students to visualize the invisible (Wu et al., 2012). This increases motivation and student engagement as it offers opportunities for just-in-time learning and makes connections to real-world applications (Blagg, 2009). It also enables learners to better understand complex concepts. As a result, this technology holds possibility for wider adoption by educators (Blagg, 2009).

What is the Significance of AR to Teaching and Learning?

AR has began to show promise in helping students learn more effectively (Billinghurst & Dunser, 2012). Though the creation of authentic learning environments (Rosenbaum, Klopfer & Perry, 2007), AR helps increase knowledge retention and memorization (Billinghurst & Dunser, 2012; Di Serio, Ibanez & Kloos, 2012). In addition, AR supports the understanding of complex tasks by combining real and virtual information (Billinghurst & Dunser, 2012; Kesim & Ozarslan, 2012). AR allows learners to interact with digital content by allowing participants to manipulate images (Billinghurst & Dunser, 2012; Wu et al., 2013).This facilitates skill acquisition more effectively (Wu et al., 2013), and leads to an increase in student excitement with technology (Billinghurst & Dunser, 2012).

AR enhances student motivation, involvement and engagement (Billinghurst & Dunser, 2012; Di Serio et al., 2012). This results in increased student understanding of spatial and temporal concepts (Billinghurst & Dunser, 2012; Kaufmann & Schmalstieg, 2003; Kaufmann, Steinbugl, Dunser & Gluck, 2005; Martin, Diaz, Sancristobal, Gil, Castro & Peire, 2011), as AR enables learners to delve more deeply into topics (Billinghurst & Dunser, 2012). For a visual map of the benefits of AR, the following image has been created:

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 3.56.28 PM
The idea of AR in teaching and learning has been highlighted in the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report for K-12 in 2012 (see here).


Azuma, R. (1997). A survey of augmented reality. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 6(4), 355-385.

Billinghurst, M., & Dunser, A. (2012, July). Augmented reality in the classroom. IEEE Computer Society, 56-63.

Blagg, D. (2009, September 2). Augmented reality technology brings learning to life. Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved from http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news-impact/2009/09/augmented-reality-technology-brings-\learning-to-life/

Bower, J. L., & Christensen, C. M. (1995). Disruptive technologies: Catching the wave. Harvard Business Review.

Carmigniani, J., Furht, B., Anisetti, M., Ceravolo, P., & Damiani, E. (2011). Augmented reality technologies, systems and applications. Multimedia Tools and Applications 51(1), 341-377. http://www.springerlink.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/content/02244g887j35608h/fulltext.htm

Di Serio, A., Ibanez, M., & Kloos, C. (2012). Impact of an augmented reality system on students’ motivation for a visual art. Computers & Education 68, 586-596.

Kaufmann, H., & Schmalstieg, D. (2003). Mathematics and geometry education with collaborative augmented reality. Computers & Graphics, 27(3), 339-345.

Kaufmann, H., Steinbugl, K., Dunser, A., & Gluck, J. (2003). Improving spatial abilities by geometry education in augmented reality- application and evaluation design. Vienna University of Technology. Retrieved July 25, 2005 from http://www.ims.tuwien.ac.at/publication_detail.php?ims_id=TR- 188-2-2005-01

Lee, K. (2012). Augmented reality in education and training. TechTrends 56(2), 13-21.

Martin, S., Diaz, G., Sancristobal, E., Gil, R., & Peire, J. (2011). New technology trends in education: Seven years of forecasts and convergence.  Computers & Education 57(3), 1893-1906.

Rosenbaum, E., Klopfer, E., & Perry, J. (2007). On location learning: Authentic applied science with networked augmented realities. Journal of Science and Technology 16(1), 31 – 45.

Wu, H., Wen-Yu Lee, S., Chang, H., & Liang, J . (2012, October). Current status, opportunities and challenges of augmented reality in education. Computers & Education 62, 41–49.



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