The Benefits of Using Augmented Reality in Early Childhood Education


JessicaWenke
Technology on September 12 2016

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There has been a lot of buzz lately about interactive games that use augmented reality, and while these games are a lot of fun I wonder what applications this technology may have in the early childhood ed classroom. Augmented reality (AR) is the simultaneous interaction of the virtual and real world with the use of 3D objects (Figure 1). After a simple search I found that there is a plethora of evidence that supports its use in the classroom, and recently, more specifically, in the early childhood classroom.

In a recent study titled, Educational magic toys developed with augmented reality technology for early childhood education by Rabia Yilmaz conducted in Turkey, teachers and students were both found to have a positive opinion about the use of AR technology in the classroom. Scientists conducting the study created what they called electronic magical toys (EMTs), which were flashcards with superimposed 3D images, puzzles that became animated when completed, and match cards that also had 3D images on them. Teachers and Children ages 4-6 were analyzed using and assessing the use of these EMTs with descriptive methods in five ways, 1) What are teachers in early childhood educations opinions of these EMTs in terms of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), 2) What are children’s opinions using the same model, 3) How do children interact and behave with EMTs, 4) What is the cognitive attainment of children using EMTs, and 5) What are the relationships between the behaviors displayed while using the technology and their cognitive attainment?

 

The results of this study showed that there was wide acceptance of this technology by teachers and students alike and it was perceived as useful. Students were observed pointing, responding, inspecting, and turning their device screens while using the EMTs which suggested high levels of engagement. Teachers were able to see the value of students not only reading and listening in the classroom but interacting and creating within their surroundings utilizing AR. Other studies such as one titled, Exploring the Application of Augmented Reality Technology in Early Childhood Classroom in Malaysia, had similar findings reporting that, “…AR technology is effective in maintaining a high level of motivation and engagement among preschool children.” With AR technologies students can manipulate and interact with their surroundings in a whole new way not replacing traditional teaching methodologies but rather enhancing them.

When it comes to introducing new technology to the classroom in order for there to be success it needs to be combined with best teaching practices. There are many widely recognized boundaries such as: Lack of funding, lack of time or training to learn new software, uncertainty of how the use of technology relates to standards, etc. There can also be a negative stigma around the association of young children and technology. However, new studies are being conducted more and more that are revealing the positive impacts technologies like AR combined with best practices have in the classroom. Below I have listed some free apps, paid technologies, and links to available technology grants and resources for your convenience. The benefits of AR are just becoming too big to ignore.

Apps:

FETCH! Lunch Rush (Math Skills for Elementary Students)

Anatomy 4D (Anatomy for the Biology Classroom)

Elements 4D (Interactive Blocks to Explore Chemistry) 

Aurasma (Lets users define spaces around them) 

Google Sky Map (Interactive Sky Map)  

ZooBurst (Digital Storytelling) 

Acrossair (Lets users define spaces around them)

Grants:

7 Ways to get Funding and Grants for Technology in your Classroom 

Grants Watch 

This article with a few suggestions from Edutopia