AR in Educational Books: how to use it?

Augmented Reality in education

Augmented Reality in education is considered today as an indispensable tool of the whole educational system, from the primary school to university. 

The use of Augmented Reality in education allows the transition from the so-called “teaching-listening” to an active and participative method of study, in which children, class and teachers are involved in the learning process. They are no longer just observers, but protagonists. We talk about ‘augmented learning‘, which aims to stimulate students’ creative and communicative abilities. 

Augmented reality applied to education actively involves students of all ages, giving them real learning experiences that improve their understanding of what they are studying and that foster interaction with the content, thus improving not only learning but also the level of attention, thanks to the effect of surprise and wonder

AR in education is also an inclusive tool that allows teachers to integrate communication and to simplify it: from primary schools to higher education or university, extended realities can help teachers to explain complex concepts and visualise physical objects that are difficult to understand presented by the flattened and unrealistic images of books; thus allowing to study all subjects in an engaging way: from biology to art, from physics to chemistry up to computer science and languages.  

Interactive content with Augmented Reality in Educational Books

Is it really essential to make use of Augmented Reality in school books and teaching materials? The answer is yes. Numerous studies on the brain provide evidence that the best way to learn and therefore remember what you are studying for longer is to “do”. Studies have shown that, after two weeks, students remember only 10% of what they have read, but as much as 90% of what they have actively done. 

Augmented Reality in education

Augmented reality makes the learning experience immersive and therefore exciting, the more the material to be learned is linked to emotions the longer the memory retention will be, because it is designed to be relevant to the brain.

What are the benefits of Augmented Reality for Education in school books?

– Making connections and stimulating curiosity: augmented reality (AR) allows students and teachers to superimpose information, images and other content onto real-world scenes. This creates new contexts and effective connections that enhance learning and promote understanding. Teachers can use augmented reality apps in the classroom to turn it into a planetarium, making a science lesson more relevant;

Stimulate engagement through realistic explorations in motion; visualise and experiment during science or physics lessons; 

Augmented Reality in educational books

– Delving into hidden levels and systems based not only on theory but also on pratice part to become more familiar with the teaching material by allowing students to move and explore;

Enriching existing programmes with extra content in the form of video, audio, animation and immersive storytelling;

– Carrying out large-scale projects and proposing challenges, the student will also stimulate problem solving skills and teamwork through the use of AR.

New Ideas for STEM Subjects Lessons 

You can imagine how many things can be done during STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) lessons from the primary school to the university. During math lessons students can move between 3D shapes and graphs.

In science classes, students can see the life cycle of an animal they are studying, study a live specimen in AR and explore its organs, systems and vocabulary as if they were looking at the animal in the flesh. 

AR is used for learning during physics lessons, allowing students to experiment with atomic nuclei and the reactions in which they are involved. 

STEM educational content with AR

Use cases of Augmented Reality in education

We have analysed some use cases where we believe augmented reality can have a strong impact on school books.

Use case 1: Getting in touch with the studied content

A software platform was designed to let students immerse themselves in the ecosystem of a river and explore how water interacts with animals, plants and human habitats. They could also discover what happens when the balance is altered. The learners came into contact with animals, discovered rivers, dams and ecosystems in other parts of the world. 

Case study 2: The development of an educational video game.

A video game platform was developed to engage its students and assign them ‘alternative’ tasks.

By modifying even just the form of classic mathematical problems and inserting invented characters or simple stories, the students worked more enthusiastically and with better results. To find out how the story ended and what happened to the main characters, students had to solve the maths and physics problems they encounter each time. 

Kid reading an education book with AR

The Liquid Book. Updating existing materials with AR.

In the effort of offering up to date and fresh educational content, most publishers release annual updates of their books and student, in turn, have to buy them even if they owned an older edition of the very same title. This need of continuously updating educational books may not be percieved positively from families that can’t pass the books of their first born to their second child.

AR actually offers a solution to this problem by providing the updates, and even selling them, through a mobile app, in association with the book. Publishers can monetise on the updates only, without needing to produce a new edition altogether (with all its relevant costs) and the book enjoys an extended lifespan.

No longer an enemy to fight, the second hand market becomes in fact an indirect ally for the circulation of the “cornerstone-book” upon which to build a new way of enjoying contents (with even vertical integration opportunities). Families attain significant savings. Think of a case where, instead of 50 euro for a brand new book, one can pay 25 euro for its second hand version plus 7 euro for the relevant updates: savings in the region of 35/40% are not unreasonable to imagine.

Augmented Reality in education

This hypothesis of “liquid book” would then resolve the false trade-off between publishers’ profits and unwarranted costs out the families’ pockets, while allowing a plunge in the digital era without leaving the reassuring presence of the physical book.

But there is more. Employing augmented reality would open endless possibilities in terms of innovative contents, as well as offer a helpful tool for students with special needs – all stemming from the very same cornerstone: the good old schoolbook.

Finally, there is a significant environment-related consideration to make: not only would the liquid book model reduce the waste of quickly dismissed books, but also the Co2 emissions linked to the production and distribution of the final product.

A win for all, then? Well, not really, as it would appear. In the depicted scenario, the actual manufacturers of the books, that is, the printing companies, seem to be the ones losing out.

Not so fast, though. This proposal does not threaten the book: it saves it.

The most likely alternative scenario, in fact, is not the indefinite conservation of the status quo – clearly unrealistic – but a radical online shift instead: augmented reality can give paper a new life.

In a such re-designed value chain, printing companies should in fact consider to include augmented reality within their products’ portfolio: by using ad-hoc platforms they can do so without developing in-house technical competences – hence without shifting their focus away from their core business – thus innovate in a planned and strategic manner, not in a panicky response to a sudden threat.

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