Augmented Learning Experience for School Education
Augmented reality is one of the technologies that works in real time to overlay virtual computer-generated graphics on to the real-world environment so as to provide the users with open-ended experience.
Gamification involves the use of several elements of game design in a context that does not actually belong to a game. This provides a playful experience to users and keeps them engaged and encouraged to attain the defined goals.
The K-12 education is a combination of primary and secondary education in schools which starts from Kindergarten, till 12th standard.
The years are progressing with the development in technology. Augmented reality (AR), being one such technology, has been a key research area from quite a long time and has been applied in various domains. In the field of education and learning, several works have been done to improve the understanding and knowledge using AR. Gamification has been another means by which the students are made to be engaged with the experiential learning and stay motivated. With the advancements in the Internet usage and development of portable electronic devices, these two technologies are now reachable to everyone. These means are being introduced in various sectors including education and learning to enhance the existing experiences. In the current education system, a lot of data is supposed to be memorized for writing the examination. This requires a need to reduce the cognitive load of the students with the developing technologies to make it easy for them to memorize and at the same time enjoy the learning experience.
In this entry, a case study on geography subject has been discussed to show a gamified way of learning maps using augmented reality for K-12 education system in schools to deliver better understanding, easy memorizing, and incremental learning.
K-12 Education System in Schools
With the advent of technology, K-12 education system in numerous schools is gaining importance and various methods of imparting knowledge have been adopted to make it more engaging for the students and enjoy the learning experience. In this form of education system in schools, a lot of attention is given to individual learning so that the students can on their own explore and develop their learning and understanding skills. Teachers are introducing various interactive activities as the mode of learning for the students to provide them an easier way of better understanding about what they are studying.
In many schools, blackboards are now getting replaced by projector screens to provide digital learning experience. Numerous schools are adopting such smart-class solutions where teachers project the digital content related to textbook on the screens for the students to better understand the concepts. These digital contents include 2D or 3D animations, audios, videos, etc. Students are also able to practice and learn at home on their own using various online modules. With the introduction of more evolving technologies and digital platforms in the K-12 education system in schools, it is believed that there will be growth and development in the learning capabilities of students.
Augmented Reality in School Education
The technology of augmented reality (AR) helps in interactively combining the virtual and real world in real time. AR systems are considered to work with the combination of various factors. It overlays the virtual information layer on top of the real surroundings instantly. The contents of the computer-generated virtual overlay have to be interactive and meaningful in the real environment (Azuma et al. 2001). In the course of many years, the importance and application of AR has been realized in several domains.
AR helps to visualize the virtual objects as real. One can see the live 3D representation of the computer-generated virtual imagery data. It can thus help students to interact with the 3D spatial structures and enhance the learning skills. In the field of school education, the applications of AR was realized in some of the subject areas that included astronomy, chemistry, biology, mathematics and geometry education, and physics (Lee 2012). Through the evolution of gadgets like personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and other electronic innovations, AR has become more powerful in becoming a prominent technology.
The AR technology in school education can be observed through mediums like AR books, objects modeling, AR games, discovery-based training, and skills training (Yuen et al. 2011). AR can potentially increase the collaboration and understanding between teachers and students in classroom. While teaching in classes, many a times the teachers and students are not on the same mental platform. Teachers try to make the students visualize some concepts in 3D but are unaware if the students are able to do it or not. With the application of AR, now the 3D representation of the concepts is shown to the students in class which highly aids their understanding. Classroom learning using AR gives a very engaging experience where students can look at things from every angle and this turns to be very useful in explaining many things from textbook like the solar system, atomic structures in chemistry, etc. AR books are also an important innovation which bridges the gap between the digital and physical world. Because books are printed media, they have some limitations like poor printing quality, dullness, etc. But the conversion of 2D contents of the textbook into 3D objects in real environment helps to enhance the learning experience. Such tools have also been developed which can convert 2D sketches into 3D objects, using which students can develop 3D models in space. A lot of applications have been developed around games in AR as it is believed that games can play a key role in keeping students motivated and can also help them in grasping the concepts easily. There are some AR applications which during the field trips to museums, historical spots, caves, etc. display the overlaid information on the real environment, making it an interactive learning experience. Thus, the means of providing the AR experience may vary with the mode of teaching.
Memorization Using Augmented Reality
In the school education system, there are multiple subjects in each standard. Further, each subject has multiple chapters which the students have to understand, learn and recall at the time of examination. Thus, the students find it a challenging task as there is a lot of data that they have to memorize.
Several researches have been done to find the relationship between AR and memorization for providing a better scope in school education. Among the recent works, the use of an AR application has been observed to display visual directives at the location of some drawers for easy memorization of the visually displayed objects (Fujimoto et al. 2012). In some cases, marker-based AR has been used to make users learn foreign language by displaying 3D objects and their corresponding spelling and pronunciation (Beder 2012). Among the various techniques to memorize, memory palace memorization method where a user makes use of the familiar spaces to construct their respective memory palace to memorize has been applied and observed using AR (Rosello et al. 2016).
The traditional method of classroom teaching in schools can be improved by providing the students with interactive visualization of 3D objects to give them the real-life interactive experience to understand better and enable easy retention of the shown content.
Gamification in Education
Gamification helps a student to stay engaged and motivated with the learning methods. It is now emerging as a useful tool in various domains including school education. Viriyapong et al. developed a game that helps in escalating the learning experience of mathematics for high school students using game methods. With the focus on plotting linear and polynomial functions on graph using coefficients, the game motivates the user by providing points for each correct answer based on the time taken to answer. The difficulty level increases at each level of the game (Viriyapong et al. 2014). Another game is being designed that uses spaced repetition with a gamified experience to enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education for students of K-12 education system (Yeh et al. 2016). Many such gamified experiences have been provided across various subjects for the students to stay motivated toward learning new concepts.
For the implementation of gaming in AR, several elements can be used such as points, levels, badges, experience points, leaderboards, challenges (Nah et al. 2014). The introduction of these elements brings up engagement, participation, motivation, enjoyment, performance, recognition, status, sense of accomplishment, and sense of achievement in any game. But it becomes difficult to make the whole game, especially an educational game interesting and motivating by using only one of these elements. Best results are obtained when these elements are used in combinations where they are interlinked with each other. These elements are to be incorporated in the game in such a way that it connects the student with the gameplay and their fellow players.
Combining Augmented Reality and Gamification in Education
Various attempts have been made for combining AR and gamification in the field of school education. AR system can be either marker-based or marker-less (Johnson et al. 2010). In marker-based AR system, the camera of the device first identifies the marker related to any image or associated data, then matches with the related content in the database, and finally superimposes the related 3D visualization and/or audio onto the real world. Marker-less AR on the other hand does not require any former information about the real world environment. It instead involves the use of GPS and compass of the AR device connected through Internet and applies image recognition methods to track certain defined features in the live environment and overlay the virtual content onto it.
Virtual laboratories in the real world are being introduced using “markers” to provide interactive hands-on learning and experimental experience for learning and education (Eleftheria et al. 2013). In this, a science AR book was created along with gamification. The knowledge and learning was tested through several challenges as part of game.
In another AR game, the use of GPS, compass, and Internet in a hand-held device, enables students to discover why the aliens entered the earth (Dunleavy et al. 2009). In the AR environment created, the students interact with the computer-generated characters, digital objects and solve related puzzles based on math, science, and language arts.
Thus, the feature of memorization using augmented reality and motivation using gamification can be combined to further enhance the learning capabilities of students and make it an enjoyable experience for them.
Case Study: Applying AR and Gamification in Geography
In the existing K-12 education system in schools, there is a lot of data that needs to be memorized by students to perform well in their examinations. The system focuses on dividing the whole content in appropriate modules with required amount of data and takes few examinations based on that. However, this kind of school education lacks enough motivation for the students to stay engaged with the subjects. In many subjects that are related to real life, students find it difficult to correlate because the pictorial contents they have in their books are in two dimensions whereas in real environment they are in three dimensions. Among the various subjects that the students have to learn, geography is one such course that involves a lot of information to understand as well as memorize for writing examinations. In this subject, it becomes difficult to visualize things in three dimensions, and it turns out to be even more difficult for the teachers to teach and make the students understand. In every standard, starting from class 5, the students are made familiar with different type of maps, the way to read them and the way to find latitude and longitude of a location in the map using atlas or vice-versa. Since, there is a lot of textbook data and numerous locations that the students have to keep in mind, this results in students losing the interest in that subject and studying it just for the sake of examinations. Thus, the design of an AR-based game for learning the maps easily and with interest has been further discussed.
The two methods, marker-based and marker-less AR are being extensively used and explored in various works on school education. However, in this case study the use of marker-based approach has been emphasized upon for the existing geography textbooks.
In the design, augmented reality has been used to make the contents more interactive. Additional printed AR markers are provided corresponding to each map in the textbook. On scanning the markers with the AR device, users can see the maps in 3D. In the maps which show terrains, wind movements, etc., users are able to see those visual contents in three dimension. This application is based on two modules. First is to help the users memorize the locations as well as understand the related concepts and the second one is to help them practice to mark the locations on the map.
In the game, within 20 s, one has to mark a list of 12 locations. The user has the option to choose the type of map to practice with the help of the marker. The maximum number of locations marked within the time limit provides better scores. The property of spaced repetition has been used in this game for easy retention of the content. The short time limit challenge in the game helps in getting motivated to challenge their own retention capability. The user can get to see their performance on the progress meter for every time they play which ultimately help to develop confidence (Fig 3).
The progress meter of every player is reflected on their profile. When they feel they are confident in a topic they can raise challenges with their friends. The application persuades the user to take up challenges with the friends of their class or locality as on winning a challenge the user earns twice the number of points as compared to normal practice mode. This encourages the user to take more number of challenges.
The game consists of scores, levels, and badges for the users to stay motivated in learning the maps quickly on their own with enjoyment. For every 1000 points a level is attained and the user gets a badge for that which shows their proficiency. The user also gets badges for certain defined tasks. For example, on scoring 100 points on 3 different maps the user gets a new badge. Similarly, the user can get 25 different badges on performing such defined tasks.
Limitations of Augmented Reality
AR has significantly helped to improve the learning experience in classrooms but some issues of using AR have also been observed, most of which are the hardware and software problems (Dunleavy et al. 2009). Cases have been seen where students find it challenging to learn the new technology and respond to the corresponding activities in timely manner, thus developing some cognitive stress. In the classroom experience, at times it becomes difficult for teachers to manage the student groups involved in doing AR activities. The students also tend to lose track of their surroundings while performing the AR-based activities as they get totally involved in that. On the development end, at times it becomes difficult to create and deploy highly rendered 3D objects. This thus leads to making low-poly objects instead, which might provide less clarity in visualization. However, these challenges may be worked upon with the passage of time to provide a better AR experience.
This entry discussed the scope of augmented reality in school education to enhance the learning experience of students. Several researches are being done to improvise the traditional form of textbook-based teaching so as to reduce rote learning effort made by the students. Augmented reality instead provides an engaging interactive experience to share knowledge through visualization in the real world. There are various means like AR books, AR games, object modeling, and many more, by which this augmented reality–based teaching and learning is done in school education. To keep the students motivated with their learning skills, AR-based games are also introduced. These games have combination of game elements like points, levels, badges, leaderboard, etc. to encourage their participation in the game-based learning (Deterding et al. 2011). AR and gamification together makes it interactive and motivating for the students to learn easily and can help to reduce the memorizing efforts being put by the students. In the entry, one such case study on learning the maps in geography using AR-based quiz game is discussed. However, there are certain limitations while using AR in school education. These include software and hardware limitations, deployment issues with highly rendered 3D objects, skills of the teachers and students to adapt to the new technology, managing the student groups, intensive involvement and avoiding the current surrounding happenings, etc. These challenges may be overcome with the evolution of the technology reachability over time. Thus, the learning can be made to be a more enjoyable experience with augmented reality getting introduced in the school education.
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