Augmented reality in higher education


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Overview and Purpose

Most people are familiar with the term "Virtual Reality" (VR) or "Extended Reality" (XR) (Tremosa, 2022). The image that comes to mind is that of a person moving about with a huge headset and VR goggles on; or perhaps that of an "Avatar". Sadly very few people really understand the full range of Extended Reality applications that are currently in use, and even fewer know about how these technologies are being used to enhance student engagement and learning quality.

In this mini-course, teacher- learners will learn about the full spectrum of Extended Reality (XR) applications and be able to determine which XR is best suited for their course content.

Since the field of XR is so large and diverse, we will focus our attention on one particular form of XR- Augmented Reality (AR)- and zoom in on its applications in education across various disciplines.

Learners will explore some of the best AR apps in the education space, and even begin to create a learning module using one of the apps for their course.

The course includes some online quizzes for self-assessment of learning, as well as some self-paced activities that teachers can do to get started with using AR in their courses.

Purpose: The purpose of this short course is to (1) provide relevant information about XR applications in education, (2) share case studies and outcomes from implementing XR based teaching in several disciplines, and (3) to give practical, easy to understand and implement tools to teachers so that they can feel confident to explore XR in their teaching and CHOOSE to incorporate XR based teaching in at least one of their course modules/lessons.

An Introduction to using XR in Teaching and Training

Watch this webinar to get an overview of the use of AR in education (skip the set up time and start at 7:30 mins)

Key points from the video:

Needs Assessment

This needs assessment is based on literature review ( Kaplan-Rakowski et al, 2022) and interviews with five college faculty from various disciplines (medicine, engineering, language, business), age groups and of both genders. I

My learners are primarily busy college faculty members who are cautiously skeptical of new technology. Receptivity to new methods varies greatly by years of teaching and exposure to gaming, programming, or tech savviness. Seasoned faculty prefer to continue to use the methods they have been using and are willing to try new things only if they are convinced that they will be significantly improve their teaching and their students learning experience, and if they have help in implementing them.

Faculty are curious and want to learn enough about AR/VR to be informed about it even if they don't plan to use it in their teaching. To consider incorporating AR in their teaching, they must be convinced by seeing real life examples from fellow teachers in similar disciplines, and perhaps even some sample lesson plans.

I believe that to make the decision to use XR in teaching, faculty must be convinced of the positive benefit to cost balance and feel supported in their efforts.

Although there is a lot of good content on the use of XR in education (Advance HE, 2022), it is mostly informational and falls short on directing teaching to take concrete steps to incorporate it in their teaching.

Therefore, in this mini-course, we will attempt to provide the information as well as the motivation and support to create a positive attitude of using AR in teaching. The learning activities and assessments will I will focus on the cognitive as well as attitudinal outcomes to help faculty to overcome the inertia to adopt a new, unfamiliar technology in their teaching.

Expected Learning Objectives

The course outcome is that educators in higher education will CHOOSE to use Augmented Reality (AR) applications in their teaching.

This is an attitudinal outcome. My hope is that this course will help to develop a positive attitude toward AR among educators. As suggested by Wager (Wager, 1976), if I can get the educators to develop a positive attitude towards AR, they will take less time to master the intellectual skills required to apply it.

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  1. Describe and differentiate between the various type of extended reality applications that are used in education (maps to their desire to know about the tech even if they don't use it)
  2. Explain the use of Augmented Reality in education, and make a connection with their own discipline (maps to the desire to know the recent advances in teaching in their discipline and to see actual applications of AR relevant to their teaching)
  3. Find, evaluate and select two AR technology/platforms could be useful in their teaching practice, relevant to the subject matter and content of teaching (maps to the desire to be guided in making a selection)
  4. Create one short lesson using the AR platform of their choice, test it with at least one user.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: Introduction to XR

Learning Activities:

- Brief overview of the XR Spectrum: VR, Mixed Reality, AR

- Examples of applications including education

- Case Study analysis

Self- assessment:

(1) Online Quiz (2) Outline one or two modules in your course that could benefit from an XR application.

Unit 2: All About Augmented Reality (AR)

Learning Activities:

- Why focus on AR?

-Types of AR and their applications

- Case studies & teacher testimonials of AR use in education

Self- assessment:

(1) Online quiz with case studies (2) Read some of the references cited and add to your original outline about pros and cons, (3) Research some AR apps that are used in your discipline, and add to your outline.

Unit 3: Applying AR in the classroom

Learning Activities:

- Review some highly rated AR apps in education and download to experiment

- Videos of selected AR apps in education

- Discuss challenges of using AR and how to address them

Self- assessment:

(1) Online quiz (2) Develop a lesson plan incorporating AR based activities.

References and Resources

Kaplan-Rakowski, Regina and Papin, Kevin and Hartwick, Peggy, Language Teachers’ Perceptions and Use of Extended Reality (April 28, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Tremosa, Laia. “Beyond AR vs. VR: What Is the Difference between AR vs. MR vs. VR vs. XR?” The Interaction Design Foundation, Accessed 14 Oct. 2022.

GeorgiaTech (2014). AR SPOT: An augmented-reality programming environment for children. Retrieved from

Klopfer, E. & Sheldon, J. (2010). Augmenting your own reality: Student authoring of science-based augmented reality games. New Directions for Youth Development, 128 (Winter), 85–94.

Liarokapis, F., & Anderson, E. F. (2010). Using Augmented Reality as a Medium to Assist Teaching in Higher Education. Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the European Association for Computer Graphics (Eurographics 2010), Education Program, Eurographics Association, Norrköping, Sweden, 4-7 May, 9-16, 2010.

Moscow State University of Civil Engineering, and Z. I. Ivanova. “EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS WITH AUGMENTED REALITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION.” BALTIC HUMANITARIAN JOURNAL, vol. 10, no. 34, Feb. 2021. (Crossref),

Augmented Reality | Advance HE. Accessed 20 Nov. 2022.

Wager, W. (1976). Instructional Curriculum Mapping

Özdemir, Muzaffer, et al. “The Effect of Augmented Reality Applications in the Learning Process: A Meta-Analysis Study.” Eurasian Journal of Educational Research (EJER), vol. 74, Apr. 2018, pp. 165–86,