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What is Augmented Reality?


The present era is dominated by interactive multimedia. Nobody wants to see static and one-dimensional objects and elearning is no different. In the technology space, people are extensively discussing the relevance of augmented reality (AR) and its varied applications. To many it may appear a bit “futuristic” in its approach, AR should be considered as a candidate for online learning. This affordable technology can be easily integrated into the elearning content and offer immediate context right at the moment of need. It’s surprisingly accessible and has the ability to bring any elearning module right to the next level, boosting interaction and making content more effective in its approach. Sounds great, right?

In this post, we will explore what augmented reality means, few of its uses and importance to elearning space.

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What is Augmented Reality?

It refers to an experience which mainly combines the user’s surroundings along with the computer-generated environment. It offers the learners a simulated environment. This technology ensures that it takes the situation of the learner into consideration and key data is then superimposed in the learning context.

It brings the digital and real world together. This affordable technology ensures that it successfully creates an interactive and immersive experience for the learners where they get the opportunity to enjoy the multi-sensory experience.

Augmented reality makes it possible for the students to view layered graphics, follow on-screen instructions, view and understand complex processes etc. This technology makes the training experience more realistic in its approach.

In other words, AR comes with the ability to re-unite mobile-based learning, interactivity, multimedia and Internet access in regard to physical space and locality.

Uses of Augmented Reality

Picture this scenario: A group of trainees are out in the field. As they undergo training exercises, images and notes related to particular tasks are being displayed to them live, through mobile or wearable devices. That’s what augmented reality does to elearning.

AR makes it possible to create practice environments in the real world. It also allows the learners to partner and share their learning experiences. The students are able to see what others are viewing and engage in interaction with them, despite not being in the same physical location.

In the near future, augmented reality will be used on actual locations and for the training of varied complicated products. Say for instance, in the healthcare industry, can be used to teach the medical professionals about complicated medical procedures by allowing them to practice by practically touching objects. In the manufacturing domain, the students can master the art of operating tough machinery without fearing the consequences of a wrong step. In the product service field, the employees can be taught about each and every component of an equipment and also share a step-by-step instruction manual on how to repair them, when necessary.

This technology can be used for induction training of new employees by sharing a virtual tour of the company premises and go through the company policy manual comprising digital content.

As the heart of augmented reality is learner engagement, it has a bright and promising future ahead in the e-learning space.

Why Augmented Reality is Important for eLearning

According to a report released by CCS Insight, augmented and virtual reality hardware is set to become a $4 billion market by 2018. Let’s take a look at how augmented reality can be leveraged in the online learning space:

Simulated working environments

One of the most common advantages of online learning is the ability to form an environment in which the users have the freedom to experiment. As people usually learn from their mistakes, when they work in a consequence-free environment, they are most likely to remember the right way to do things.

Support Gamification

As online learning management systems  use gamification widely, augmented reality can be directly applied. In AR reality training module, employees will be rewarded for effectively performing their routine tasks in the right way, which will eventually improve performance.

Immersive Learning Environments

Using a tablet, smartphone for the online training software means the users are constantly distracted with emails, notifications from social channels etc. This is one of the reasons why elearning content uses interactive multimedia elements to engage students. With augmented reality, eLearning courses can be supported with 360° video, which will engage the user and remove distractions for them.

Motion tracking

Motion and gesture tracking are part of the AR experience. They are commonly leveraged for choosing menu items or engaging with video game-based environments.

In the online learning domain, LMS can use this technology to track learner’s progress to ensure that they are achieving the set targets without fail. This will boost real-time training performance and improve interactivity with instant feedback.

Simply put, with augmented reality the possibilities are endless. With the growing number of Bring Your Own Device(BYOD) workplaces, it is expected that employees and learners will be delighted to use augmented reality.

How to Make Augmented eLearning Successful

In the above-mentioned learning scenarios, the course creators take the learning context (situation, place or the student) into considerations.Then using eLearning Software, instructors superimpose the particular learning content into the main teaching curriculum.

Nowadays, online learners are not restricted to a particular place as they consume content from a location of their choice – office, home, gym, coffee shop etc – at their own pace. In such a scenario, the key element that drives the success of augmented reality in the elearning space is its “delivery” medium.

Augmented reality-driven content should be “responsive” and have the ability to scale to any device, which is used for delivery – like the laptop, desktop, smartphone, iPad etc.

Summing up

To summarize, augmented learning as a technology is getting maturer by the day. As learners are no longer mere recipients of information, with augmented reality students are better positioned to promote knowledge creation and transfer just the way they want.  With time and the evolution of technologies, augmented learning will become huge and foster innovation in the elearning domain.

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About the author

Kamy Anderson is an online training expert and a product manager. He leads the product vision and strategy of ProProfs Training Maker. Kamy blogs about trends in eLearning, online training, employee training, gamification, LMS, AI, and more. His articles are published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag, Training Zone, and Learning Solutions Magazine. You can connect with Kamy on LinkedIn.