Driving Student Engagement With Augmented Reality

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Can you create a Pokémon Go experience in your classroom?

In one primary school, a classroom of students use their knowledge of adding and subtracting rational numbers to save the headteacher from aliens. Or at least, that’s what the augmented reality on their phones would have them believe.

Augmented reality is something of a buzzword these days following the success of Pokémon Go, a game where people use their phones to catch virtual creatures hiding around their neighbourhood. Released in 2016, it went viral and was downloaded by over half a billion people. Millions wandered the streets, pointing their smart phone cameras at everyday scenes like park benches and shop windows, and seeing tiny monsters appear on their screens, challenging the viewer to capture them.

Create your own augmented reality

Meanwhile, off the streets and in schools around the world, innovative teachers have been creating their own augmented reality experiences to share with their students, sending them on virtual quests to uncover information about history, science, literature and more. They’re using an app called Metaverse, which describes itself as “the easiest way to create Augmented Reality experiences.”

Teachers – even the self-proclaimed “not tech-savvy” ones – can build experiences by dragging components around on the screen, a bit like building a structure out of virtual building bricks. Components include things like “Character scene” to make a familiar cartoon display on the screen and “Response equals” to check if a student has submitted a correct answer.

All areas of the curriculum

Kandi Marshall brought maths to life for her Year 3 class using Metaverse. “Something that students complained about doing 2 hours ago seemed liked a preferred task now!” she  tweeted. Other teachers are seeing similarly high engagement from students: primary school librarian Joanie tweets “The only limit to using ‘The Verse’ is our imagination”.

In an experience from a teacher in Surrey, a cat, otter and elephant ask students some basic questions about Buddhism. Students are then transported (virtually, of course) to a temple in South Korea, and then another in Japan. They can also watch an introductory video and explore Khan Academy content – all within Metaverse. (Check it out here – you’ll need the Metaverse app, available on iPhone and Android). 

It can get a bit surreal, but further tweets of Metaverse in the classroom speak for themselves: “My classroom was full of #engagedlearners today! I love seeing them so excited to learn Curriculum through #AugmentedReality!” tweets Allyson Medlin, a primary teacher.

Year 5 teacher Tierney Rowe shared a Halloween-themed math Metaverse experience complete with ghosts, pumpkins and witches, tagging it #engagement. Anthony Peters, aka @EdtechAnt, writes to another teacher about trying Metaverse:

“They are going to absolutely adore this platform! It lends itself to learner-centred learning on a phenomenal level and the degree of both learner and educator engagement is going to be off the charts!”

As for Pokémon Go, Metaverse CEO Dmitry Shapiro invites the comparison, hoping to capitalise on the phenomenal engagement of the Niantic app: “What if Pokemon Go were nutritious? What if these characters showed up in your classroom and taught you? That’s powerful.”

Get started with Metaverse

Metaverse is a free Augmented Reality platform that makes it easy for anyone to create AR Experiences. You create AR Experiences in Metaverse Studio on the computer by combining various components to create an Experience. The Experience is then viewable in the Metaverse App.

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Holly Gardner

Holly Gardner is TT Editor, as well as a Freelance Book Publisher and TEFL teacher. She has been working with @TeacherToolkit for 5 years - since she published his first book in her role as Senior Commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury Publishing. Since then, she left her day job, moved to Madrid and trained as an English teacher. She is now a key member of the TT team, continues to teach english and edit books, and also spends her time learning spanish and searching for the best tortilla de patata! You can follow her at @HollyEditTeach.