The Realities of Augmented Reality for Learning

| May 19, 2010

Dunleavy, M.,Dede, C.,Mitchell, R.(2009) Affordances and Limitations of Immersive Participatory Augmented Reality Simulations for Teaching and Learning.Journal of Science Education and Technology(18),7–22

Article Review
Responding to the need for studies that explore how immersive technologies can be leveraged for enhanced learning, this study provides details of an augmented reality (AR) tool. Alien Contact! was designed with funding by the U.S. Department of Education and in collaboration with MIT and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The master goal of the curriculum unit using AR technology is to discover why the aliens have landed. However, in order to collect sufficient evidence to form a hypothesis, the students must successfully complete multiple sub-tasks requiring math, language arts, and scientific literacy skills applied through an inquiry process. However, this article not only shared perspectives of the student learners but also included a teacher lens. As reflected in their conceptual model, it showcased the the connections of immersive media to current conceptions of how people learn which then directly effects the ways in which students and teachers form their roles.

To uncover the reality of this model and how middle and high school teachers and students describe teaching and learning within a participatory AR simulation, a design based approach was used. Their approach also featured emphasis on multiple case study designs used for both student and teacher audiences. The findings from this inquiry included trends such as high student engagement, physical interactions, distributed knowledge through role play, logistical management, student cognitive overload, hardware/software issues, competition and previously disengaged students. These perspectives are useful to researchers interested in understanding the nuanced details of the interactions that new media immersive technologies can offer. It is also useful for teacher educators to be aware of the challenges that arise with the technologies so that they can better promote appropriate technologies and support teachers.

Further, as the study was able to collect, this AR experience from the student perspective was also able to capture the teacher perspective. It is fruitful to consider the teachers’ role in the evaluation of a tool and is something that is often missing from the assessment of many of the new learning technologies. The study also mentions necessary further enhancements to this research that there is still much work to be done around the issues of the kind of pedagogies that can support the use of such tools, as well as creating a clearer picture of what factors affect how such practices are enacted. The reality of these kinds of technologies remain connected mainly with research agendas to evaluate newly designed tools. Further study will be needed to understand the place these tools potentially have on formal or informal learning settings.

Connection to the Edlab
Considering the missions of the EdLab, this work situates itself both in the future of learning, re-imagining schooling as well as efficiencies in educational research. In understanding what kinds of learning interactions, moving towards immersive technologies are becoming more and more relevant and prevalent. As this study also implored a design-based research approach, it is a model that is also becoming more accepted in the field as its affordances make sense with the details that need to be uncovered in educational situations.

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