How Studyum uses AR to improve education
“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.”
This famous quote might not have been something Confucius said (according to QuoteInvestigator, it might have been one of his followers), and yet it still rings so inherently true. And even if you have read these words for the first time here and now, you might’ve been familiar with their modern artistic reinterpretation – the 2008 movie Slumdog Millionaire.
These are just two of many possible examples of how we learn. But if we’ve known this for so long, why is it that most lessons in universities and schools have stayed in the first part of the famous quote?
“Do as I say, not as I do.”
The truth is, our education system was not devised to work alongside technology – the only solution that could allow a scalable involvement of every student. As technology developed, education used it when there was no other choice left. It’s like they were turning screws with their hands when someone told them screwdrivers exist. Then they tried to use the same screwdriver for every type of screw.
We can see that a similar thing happened during the pandemic. Many schools were forced to offer remote schooling, and what was the end result?
- The quality of education dropped.
- Teachers were unable to adapt to the use of technology.
- Students’ mental health severely deteriorated.
Due to these difficulties, many schools reopened, underestimating the danger and stress they were putting on their personnel, students, parents, and even the population in general.
But there is another way: disrupting the paradigm and ensuring a personalized approach to learning that involves and engages students.
What is Augmented Reality (AR) and how does it work
Augmented Reality (AR) is a type of technology that interacts with the real world around us. It augments or changes reality by adding virtual representations of physical objects on top of it. So, rather than creating an entirely new world and objects within it as VR tech does, it does only one of those things – creates virtual objects. This is done by digitizing physical objects, often either by processing photos of the object or by 3D modeling.
VR uses all the same methods and technology as AR and is just as participatory. However, it requires special equipment that many of us don’t have access to. On the other hand, AR tech is right there in our hands and pockets.
Today’s smartphones and tablets support AR apps and can even use special markers like QR codes to fix an AR object in place for many to observe at once. But, more importantly, they can allow learners to interact with the material in the way it was previously impossible.
How does AR help us learn
AR technology helps us learn in several ways by:
- Providing rich and vivid visual examples;
- Putting less demand on our working memory;
- Allowing us to actively interact with the material.
AR objects have to be high resolution to allow you to freely configure them and learn. When you zoom in to see the details, you don’t want a pixelated splotch, and when you rotate the object you expect the perspective to be as clear as the default one – from every angle.
Using AR for demonstrations and tutorials helps ease the strain that would’ve otherwise been placed on our working memory. According to leading researchers, our working memory capacity is rather limited. This means that we will remember less if we have to imagine something at the same time. By freeing up the space, our retention ability improves, and our capacity for learning increases.
The AR technology also enables us to interact with the object we’re exploring. By using various hand gestures and motions, you can zoom in and out or rotate the object. This means that you get to dictate your pace. And to do it in familiar surroundings that make you feel comfortable and won’t be as distracting as a completely new environment.
Studyum: AR in education
The education of the future will have a variety of learning formats, allowing different ways to perceive information and ample opportunities to interact with it. It will be closely intertwined with technology to provide each and every student with the tools to learn on their own time, at a place best suited to them, and in a way that engages them and makes learning fun. Even now, we know engagement leads to better learning outcomes, that it makes learners remember information faster and for longer periods of time.
Applying technological advances to education could solve problems we are currently facing – the reskilling emergency, the need to reshape the labor market for future progress. And by encouraging life-long learning and self-development, we won’t only find ourselves on the fast track toward progress, we will also tremendously enrich our everyday lives.
The Studyum Foundation started the Studyum project with this in mind – to provide a safe space for learning where the idea isn’t only to not leave someone behind, but to truly support them.
The Sci-fi solution
You can say the Earth is round, but until people go into space there are still those who won’t believe it. But that’s completely normal – our senses are the only connection we have with the world around us, so it is normal to be biased and believe our own eyes rather than the eyes of others.
Therefore, much like in the quote at the beginning, we are right to ask to be shown things, rather than be told about them. But what would really make all that information unforgettable is putting us right in the middle of it.
Imagine seeing the Earth in front of you. Imagine being able to rotate it and see the time zones illuminate, the time changing with the turns, the position of the Sun relative to Earth. Now zoom it in, see the land, see the continent, see the cluster of countries as they form before your eyes. Select a country, adjust the view to see the terrain changes, tap the mountains to see their names.
Being able to explore the entire world from the comfort of your home and with the flick of a wrist seems almost like science fiction. But it can be our reality, through Studyum.