Getting to know AR
Augmented Reality is the real-time use of information in the form of text, graphics, audio, and other virtual enhancement integrated with real-world objects. Take for instance, you are in a class learning biology and yet seeing and hearing the different living organisms in real time; that’s the power of Augmented Reality. With it, extra details can be added to reality. What more could a student ask for: actually (or perhaps, virtually) interacting with the bios while having logos.
Also, this technology overlays digital information and virtual objects onto the real world. This enhances the user’s perception and interaction with their environment. Yes, you will be seeing those beautiful organisms, in addition to your beautiful biology teacher’s face–a win-win situation, isn’t it? AR manages to blend digital and three-dimensional (3-D) components with your perception of the real world. It does not take you out of the real world; it just makes your real world “better”.
Working with AR
Augmented Reality can work in a variety of formats, including within smartphones, tablets and glasses. Developers write apps using special 3-D programs that tie animation or contextual digital information in the computer program to an augmented reality marker in the real world.
A very good example of AR in recent times is Snapchat. The filter you use to take pictures is a classical example of AR in use. This way, you get to look like a superhero, even though you are not. Another example of AR would be Pokemon Go, a popular mobile AR game that uses the player’s GPS to detect where Pokemon creatures appear in the user’s surrounding environment for them to catch. Way to have fun with AR!
But seriously, AR can actually be used–and has been used–in a lot of other ways and in different industries. In the Retail business, consumers can use a store’s online app to see how products, such as furniture, will look in their homes. Also, Architects can use AR to visualize a building project before building it. Even in the Military, navigating is made easier with AR. Soldiers can display maps with directions, weather reports and operation plans with so much ease, even while in the military vehicle. All these goes to show the versatility of AR use.
AR in Education
Furthermore, augmented reality has helped a lot and has made learning faster and easier. Complete Anatomy is a very good example of an app with AR technology. It allows students and health professionals to master the human body. It particularly helps them to visualize the relations of the various structures in the human body. They could even see muscle movements in real time with Complete Anatomy. As stated earlier, biology students can also learn more easily with AR, learning with their eyes in addition to the ears.
This can be applied to all other sciences as well as other disciplines. For instance, in history, AR can enable the students walk through the ancient past. This makes learning of history more interesting and interactive. History could not be more fun!
As technology continues to advance, incorporating AR into educational settings has gained traction worldwide, however not in Nigeria. A survey of all the readers would show that only a few knew AR prior to reading this article, talk less of the whole country. Even those who know do not have the courage to implement it, or they do not have enough depth in their knowledge. This just goes to show the back lag of Nigerian Education in view of AR technology (even technology as a whole!).
Nonetheless, the implementation of augmented reality is still a possibile reality in Nigerian Schools. AR has the potential to revolutionize teachings and learning methods, providing students with interactive educational experiences. This can go a long way in boosting up Nigerian education.
Going against the Challenges
If AR is so great, what then is stopping its implementation in Nigerian Schools? One of these impediments is the technical requirements and limitations of the technology. For example, AR requires devices such as smartphones, tablets, or headsets, that are compatible, accessible and affordable for both educators and learners. Thinking that’s not much of a setback? What about the AR software which require reliability, security, and easy use and manufacture. Do Nigerians have the technical know-how for meeting these requirements?
Not yet convinced? What about the unreliable internet connectivity in urban areas, talk less of the rural areas. All these hinder access to AR resources. To overcome this challenge, educational stakeholders and schools should invest in providing the required technology resources, as well as ensure that students have access to AR tools and resources. This is an investment with a positive ripple effect.
Another challenge is the lack of technical know-how and awareness among educators about augmented reality and its application in the classroom. As said earlier, how many are familiar with what AR is and its potential benefits? Those who are even familiar with it will prefer not to talk because they believe that is a way in which their job could be taken away – oh yes I said it.
Solution? Professional development and training programs should be implemented to educate and upskill teachers on the good benefits of AR in various subjects. Workshops, seminars and online courses on AR should be organized. These will provide necessary skills and knowledge for teachers to spice up their teaching techniques with AR.
The need for collaboration
To integrate augmented reality into the curriculum, there must be careful planning and collaboration between the technology experts and the educators. Teachers will need support in identifying appropriate AR applications and resources that align with the curriculum and learning objectives. Collaborating with educational technology specialists can ensure the selection of good AR tools for different subjects and levels. The teachers and technology developers will then have to work close together to develop a comprehensive strategy for the integration of AR into the curriculum, ensuring that it enhances learning outcomes and engages students effectively. Yay for team work!
Lack of capital
Last, but not the least, there is difficulty in accessing capital for implementing AR in Nigerian education. AR technology requires investments in hardware, software licenses and ongoing maintenance. Schools may face financial constraints in procuring the necessary equipment and sustaining the technology with maintenance in the long run. Partnerships and collaborations between the government, private companies and philanthropic organizations can provide financial support and sponsorships.
Augmented reality in education can help teachers by making lectures more interesting and more real. The technology will not only help teachers in making lessons more interactive but it will also benefit students by making it easier for them to understand tough subject matter and topics; what cannot be achieved with the traditional pedagogues can be accomplished with the help of augmented reality.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is a quote as I conclude:
A problem well stated is a problem half-solvedCharles Kettering
This article has even gone further in proffering solutions to the stated problems. Let’s heed the words of this wise man and place all hands on deck to implement AR in Nigerian schools. PS: Teamwork is a great asset for the project AR.
Written by Boluwatife
For the Editorial Team, God Is Love Educational Foundation