Augmeneted reality / Mass customisation: Confronting an Augmented Reality -- 154 -- Proceedings Paper
How can educators make use of augmented reality technologies and practices to enhance learning and why would we want to embrace such technologies anyway? How can an augmented reality help a learner confront, interpret and ultimately comprehend reality itself? In this paper, we seek to initiate a discussion that focuses on these questions, and suggest that they be used as drivers for research into effective educational applications of augmented reality. Rather than offer a prescription for augmentation, our intention is to throw open debate and to provoke deep thinking about what interacting with and creating an augmented reality might mean for both teacher and learner.
As a relatively new and rapidly developing technology, applications for mobile devices, web cameras and now glasses that augment reality with digital objects are being taken up as potential educational tools by the usual vanguard of technophiles and early adopters. In the rush to adopt new technologies, there has been little consideration of how augmenting reality might enhance the process of learning itself – that is, little consideration of why we might want to embrace such technologies more broadly, beyond the opportunities for mobility and flexibility.
There is a danger of educational applications being driven by what is technically possible, and by the interests and agendas of the early adopters, rather than what is pedagogically desirable, or empirically defensible. The risk of such a fragmented approach to augmented reality (AR) implementation may be to make it harder for academics and teachers to incorporate augmentation into their learning and teaching practices, and it may even alienate the less technically-minded, with AR left seeming as yet another flash-in-the-pan, short-lived technological toy, accessible only to those with technical know-how and high levels of IT literacy and competence.
In this paper, we discuss how multi-modal, sensorial augmentation of reality links to existing theories of education and learning, focusing on ideas of cognitive dissonance and the confrontation of new realities implied by exposure to new and varied perspectives. We also discuss connections with broader debates brought on by the social and cultural changes wrought by the increased digitalisation of our lives, especially the concept of the extended mind. Rather than offer a prescription for augmentation, our intention is to throw open debate and to provoke deep thinking about what interacting with and creating an augmented reality might mean for both teacher and learner.
We start by defining what we mean by AR, with the intention of freeing it from specific technologies and hence opening it up for integration in a broader philosophy of education. We stress that augmented realities, unlike virtual realities, are not substitutions for physical reality; not approximations to reality; but the layering of perspectives and experiences to augment and enrich reality. We then discuss what opportunities AR opens up, and how those opportunities might be exploited within a given (constructivist) approach to learning and teaching. Finally, we consider existing applications of AR, trends in AR research and possibilities for uses of this technology in education.