Augmented Reality: Can it Really be Used in History Class?
Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Most people confuse augmented reality with virtual reality. Virtual reality, creates a totally artificial environment, and to be in that environment, the user is required to strap a device to their face. Augmented reality, in contrast, uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it, and you can access that information via your mobile smart device without a headset.
In AR, computer generated images (CGI) and animations overlay onto camera-captured video in such a way that the CGI objects appear to have an absolute location in the real world.
AR’s Use Case for Education
AR made a big splash when Pokemon Go was introduced. And since then, the AR applications with the most buzz have been games. Although some parents might think of Augmented or Virtual Reality as just another way to play a game, many educators already understand the power of this technology. The ability to map images and information onto the physical world is very exciting, and they can envision or have seen its application in the classroom. But quite a bit of the conversation around this medium has focused on its ability to assist with science class: See beneath the skin! Learn the structure of atoms! Watch a volcano erupt! Very few applications have been introduced for use in a social sciences class.
History teachers face a unique challenge. Unlike other subjects, the content is not tangible and teachers have to work very hard to create interactive learning opportunities. The historical figures you are talking about are long dead, the lives they led are somewhat hard for kids to relate to, and buildings where key events took place may have changed drastically. Even if you visit an historic location, it is hard to convey the gravity and the significance of the event.
But what if the student could see events unfold as if they were there: in the middle of the battle, or holed up during the siege? This isn’t similar to watching a movie, because the student is “in” the story, where the story happened. For instance, imagine a student standing outside the main building of the Alamo holding up a mobile device to watch Sarah, the freed slave, help defend the 18-pound cannon, then lose her life. Or entering a portal into the room where James Bowie was deathly ill with what was described as Typhoid Pneumonia, then watch as he fights to his last breath. What if they could “fly over” the entire scene and watch the battle unfold from the bird’s eye view? Would that change their perspective? Would it enhance their retention and understanding of the material?
Augmented reality is compelling and captivating in a way that a plaque on the ground, or a pencil drawing of a war hero just can not match.
“This combination holds astonishing promise for education and entertainment as it brings history to life. This is particularly important for connecting with younger generations who desire a highly visual and engaging form of storytelling.” Chipp Walters, Imagine Virtua CEO
Travel back in time with us. We know it will be fun… but you just might learn something along the way.
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