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6 Awesome AR apps for the classroom

Augmented Reality is awesome. Even though AR technology is not new, it seems it really started to spread lately. Its uses are as varied as the leaves in the Amazonian forest, and more and more people all over the world agree upon its huge potential to any field of activity. The limits to AR exploration are pushed farther every day.

And the best of it? People don’t need extraordinary tech devices to access AR. Almost any smartphone or tablet can do the trick. Just check Google Play or the App Store for AR apps and be amazed by the number of the results you'll get.

AR apps add a new dimension to the reality we know, making it easier — and way cooler — for anyone to learn everything about anything:

  • Doctors can practice surgery without risking any human life;
  • Real estate agents can sell properties faster by showing potential customers how any room could look like with a different wall color, or with furniture in it;
  • Tourists can become part of the story that made famous any landmark when in a foreign city;
  • Teachers can inspire students to learn more about a certain subject.

Speaking of students and teachers, AR apps can be very helpful for both of them in the classroom. With a mobile device and some AR trigger images, teachers can create awesome classes, where they don't spoon-feed new knowledge to students, but tap on their natural curiosity. Students of all ages are very receptive to AR apps for education, and this doesn't happen just because it is cool, but mostly because it creates immersive learning situations for them.

6 awesome AR apps for the classroom

Without further ado, here are 6 AR apps that can be used in the classroom, from kindergarten to senior high school years, and maybe even beyond that.

  1. AR Flashcards. Toddlers and preschoolers can learn the alphabet through this entertaining AR app. When they — or a supervising adult — point a smartphone or a tablet at a printed flashcard of an alphabet letter, a beautifully rendered 3D image of an animal corresponding to that letter will pop up on the screen, and kids can hear the sound of the letter. Besides the incredible visuals, this app uses mnemonics and the power of repetition to help small children learn the alphabet in an interactive manner.
  2. Quiver. You'll recognize the Quiver app by the cute butterfly on its logo. Formerly known as Col AR, this app uses coloring pages as triggers. Using a mobile device, kids can go beyond the printed learning materials and interact with the 3D figures depicting anything from microorganisms to the solar system. Users can watch the 3D animations from any angle, and even zoom in and out to see them as detailed as they want.
  3. Aurasma. While this app was not specifically created to be used in education, teachers all over the world love it. And use it in their classrooms. This year's ISTE edition was the host of many discussions on AR technology both in official sessions and in ad-hoc conversations, and Aurasma seemed to be on everyone's lips. The app offers an easy AR solution for classroom learning. Teachers create "auras" by uploading trigger images of their choices and adding overlays in the form of links, videos, animations and 3D scenes. Students then access the interactive digital content using their mobile devices and extend their learning beyond the physical boundaries of the classroom. The best thing about this app is that it can be adapted to suit any subject, at any school level.
  4. Elements 4D. This free app brings the chemical elements to life. Students of all levels — elementary, intermediate, and high school — associate this app with a fun and entertaining way of learning chemistry. Teachers can create dice from folded paper that has the symbol of an element on each of its sides. When students roll the dices, and point the camera of whatever device they're using, they can see the chemical reaction between the elements and its equation. Since everything is AR, no Berzelius beakers, test tubes, or students' fingers can't possibly be damaged during the class, not even by H2SO4!
  5. ThingLink. I first discovered this app on a website selling fashion items. There was a nice picture of a dressed-up girl, and I could click on her hat, bag, shirt, shoes, or lipstick, and land on the specific page of that item, where I could buy it. But ThingLink goes way beyond online shops. Teachers and students can use it to annotate 360° images with anything they want: interactive tags, links to different learning sources, other apps, or third-party tools. Basically, ThingLink allows users to create a clickable 360° image and add layers of extra learning content, all in an incredible interactive AR experience in the classroom.
  6. Arloon Geometry. As the name suggests, this app teaches students a thing or two about geometry. It’s particularly useful for those who have a hard time imagining the abstract geometrical concepts. Users can interact with 3D geometric shapes, see how they look from all angles, and how they unfold in a 2D plan. Being able to visualize pyramids, spheres, or cubes helps students better understand how to calculate areas and volumes. The app is not free, but its price of $0.99 is well worth it. What’s more, it’s available both in English and in Spanish.

AR apps — whether they were created to be used in the classroom or not — add another dimension to learning. Teachers using these kinds of apps in their classrooms trigger students' curiosity for learning and contribute to a complete and fun learning experience. I almost feel jealous on today's students and the fact that they can experience school subjects on a whole new level than I had the chance to when I was their age.

Even though AR technology hasn't penetrated each and every classroom around the world, I doubt it will stop spreading any time soon. And it's only a matter of time until school LMSs will integrate AR.

Have you used any of these awesome six AR apps (or others) in your classroom? What was your experience?

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