E-LEARNING AND AUGMENTED REALITY: APPLICATIONS AND ADVANTAGES

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Augmented reality, also called with the abbreviation AR, is a constantly evolving technology that represents altered reality with additional artificial information. Although this technology has existed for several years, its spread is taking place only recently, also thanks to Google Glass. Before investing in sectors such as mobile and learning, AR was adopted in technical areas such as military, scientific research and medicine.

Augmented reality first reached the general audience in 2009, thanks to the iPhone 3GS, with Layar, a reality browser that used the GPS of the device and the accelerometer to receive information from the monuments framed with the camera.

What does this have to do with e-learning? It seems that human beings tend to remember better what they see rather than what they listen to, that is why integrating a learning management system platform, (or LMS platform) with augmented reality is always more effective.

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THE AUGMENTED REALITY: LEARNING AND E-LEARNING PROCESSES

In recent years, the augmented reality project has been demonstrating to the e-learning sector that it can be an excellent tool for professional updating and training. In fact, augmented reality enhances the human experience through sounds, images, texts and videos that can be used through a device.

Thus, it promotes learning and improves learning retention in various sectors, such as medical-scientific, industrial or commercial. When it is associated with traditional teaching, in fact, it allows practical and experimental activities and transforms the learning experience into a playful and effective one. Learning by doing is one of the most successful forms of the immersive learning process.

Augmented reality applications allow learners to interact with objects, such as 3D models and other online training tools, and help them develop their communication and interpersonal skills. On the other hand, this allow trainers and teachers to have new and accurate tools to evaluate students’ commitment and to provide them with personalised teaching materials that improve their attitudes. What are the areas in which AR is used today?

Augmented reality applied to medicine makes zero-risk surgical trials and collective training possible. It also offers numerous advantages for those involved in recruitment and human resources. Augmented reality applied to e-learning provides tools capable of involving learners, both physically and emotionally. By the use of tools such as the QR Code, it is possible to offer personalized professional training, beneficial for both individual workers and for the company.

To remain in the field of medicine, the experiments undertaken in this direction highlight numerous and incredible advantages obtained by using AR for laparoscopic operations. High level results are obtained and thanks to real-time feedback the learning techniques is improved. In doing so, doctors could exploit AR as a sort of “user manual” of the entire operation, with costs that are significantly lower than the simulation offered by virtual reality, which is still too experimental.

Learners of all ages, from children to the elderly, can take advantage of smart interactive training courses and are able to derive numerous advantages:

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AR TECHNOLOGY AND LEARNING PROCESSES

The changes brought about by digital technologies, now available to everyone, have changed the way in which users interact. Augmented reality, in particular, as it is pervasive and engaging, also has repercussions on the world of education.

Augmented reality, thanks to the integration and overlapping of real and virtual contents that are used through a special device, allows to insert and disseminate additional information and gives to the user the possibility to interact with the environment around him or her. In augmented reality the virtual elements (which are called this way but must be distinguished from those of virtual reality) overlap into the real ones, although it is impossible to confuse them. Here the elements of the real world always prevail over those of the virtual world, while with VR it happens the opposite  thing.

There are also lightly augmented (slightly augmented reality) and heavily augmented (consistently augmented), in cases where immersive helmets or wearable devices are employed to use AR, which work similarly to virtual reality and which vary on the basis of the expected immersion. With the arrival on the market and its diffusion, AR technology has become mainstream and arouses growing interest precisely because of the variety of possible applications related to entertainment, but also to learning results.

The AR can optimize the learning processes of the learners, in order to improve interaction between groups of students, create positive interdependence and a sense of individual responsibility, strengthen working groups and promote an interactive and effective type of learning.

In the outdoor learning path, augmented reality improves the overall experience of the learners in several ways. Here are some additional benefits of augmented reality applied to education:

Moreover, the learning processes in the automotive sector and in specialized mechanics have countless advantages thanks to AR, as a tool that supports workers during their daily work and simplifies their work. For this reason, the interface of the AR processes must be intuitive and transparent.

For a person who experiences AR, it is important to be aware that this experience can lead a long-lasting change, due to the type of learning that enables to store the knowledge acquired. The change will take place on several levels: experience and intuition, reasoning and reflection.

The effectiveness of augmented reality lies precisely in the fact that it approaches real contexts and emulates them by:

It would therefore be an instrument that acts on several levels on the learning process, placing itself now as a tool capable of enriching the experience, now as an environment, now as a tool capable of helping and providing the necessary directives to achieve the objectives set.

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THE FUTURE OF AUGMENTED REALITY IN LEARNING

To date, AR seems to be an effective tool not only for strategies applied to marketing and entertainment, but also for the entire learning process. This is due to the ease and practicality of this technology, the quality of the experience that users have and the decrease in construction costs. In fact, there are many apps in AR and allow educators to experience new ways of learning, which must not replace traditional practices, but represent a middle ground capable of reconciling innovation and tradition.

Augmented reality has the potential to become a standard tool of the educational system. Thanks to it we move from the classic teaching-listening approach to a participatory study method in which both students and teachers are engaged in the learning process, becoming active players.

The so-called augmented learning aims at the independence of learners and the stimulation of creative and communicative skills.

In fact, AR is a coherent and effective response to bridge the gap between standard systems and new needs in the field of education, because it focuses on stimulating critical thinking and problem solving, in order to analyse situations from different points of view.

Find out more about AR in the e-learning sector by reading our JOurnal!

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