We are entering a period where Mixed Reality (MR) is becoming more and more common. At E3D News, we have covered the new Vision Pro Apple headset and the work many companies like Exponential Destiny are doing in Mixed Reality. Mixed Reality is a more updated phrase for Augmented Reality (AR) and by some definitions includes full Virtual Reality (VR). The main idea is that it allows interaction between the user, the real environment, and the virtual environment. In recent years, MR has made significant strides in education, enhancing the way students learn and interact with their surroundings. We will take a look at the diverse applications of MR in the classroom, showcasing its ability to revolutionize learning experiences and foster student engagement which has the potential to transform education.

1. Interactive Learning

MR brings abstract concepts to life by overlaying digital content onto physical objects. Students can explore and interact with three-dimensional models, historical artifacts, and scientific phenomena, providing a hands-on experience that surpasses traditional textbooks. For instance, MR applications enable students to dissect virtual frogs or visualize complex anatomical structures, enhancing their understanding and retention of information.

For instance, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam developed an AR experience that brings Anne Frank’s diary to life. Students can use their smartphones or tablets to explore the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family hid during World War II. The AR tour provides historical context, interactive elements, and personal narratives, enabling students to gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust.

2. Visualizing Abstract Concepts

MR aids in comprehending abstract concepts in subjects like mathematics or science. Educators can create visual representations of these concepts, making them tangible and easier to understand. Students can manipulate virtual objects, explore mathematical formulas, or witness chemical reactions, facilitating deeper understanding and conceptual clarity.

Zappar, an augmented reality platform, has developed various educational AR experiences. For instance, they created an AR chemistry lab that allows students to perform experiments and witness chemical reactions in a safe and interactive manner. Zappar’s AR learning experiences cover subjects like physics, geography, and history, providing engaging and interactive content for students.

3. Virtual Field Trips

MR enables students to embark on virtual field trips without leaving the classroom. They can visit historical landmarks, explore ecosystems, or witness historical events through MR simulations. These immersive experiences broaden students’ horizons and create a sense of presence, forging a deeper connection to the content being studied. This is very important both for inclusion of students with disabilities and low income students. It can provide additional support to students with learning disabilities, offering visual aids, audio cues, or interactive prompts. MR can also accommodate diverse learning styles, ensuring that students with different abilities can engage with the content effectively. 

Google Expeditions offers a collection of MR-based virtual field trips that allow students to explore various locations and historical events. For example, students can visit the Colosseum in ancient Rome, witness the eruption of a volcano, or explore the Great Barrier Reef. These AR experiences provide an immersive and educational journey, expanding students’ knowledge beyond the classroom.

4. Gamified Learning

Integrating gamification with MR technology transforms learning into an engaging and enjoyable activity. MR-based educational games motivate students to actively participate, compete, and collaborate, fostering a positive learning environment. By combining learning objectives with interactive gameplay, students are more likely to retain information and develop critical thinking skills.

Quiver is an MR coloring app that transforms two-dimensional coloring pages into 3D interactive experiences. Students can color characters or objects on a paper, and then the Quiver app brings them to life in augmented reality. This app stimulates creativity, encourages storytelling, and enhances fine motor skills while providing an immersive and interactive coloring experience.

5. Career and Technical Education

MR has significant applications in career and technical education (CTE). It can simulate real-world scenarios, allowing students to practice skills in a safe and controlled environment. Whether it’s virtual surgery simulations, engineering design prototypes, or architectural walkthroughs, MR enables students to gain practical experience, boosting their confidence and preparing them for future careers.

During the Covid shutdown, medical students and residents were heavily trained on equipment like the virtual surgery in the video above because student access was limited due to transmission fears.

Engineering Grade AR refers to the application of AR technology in the field of engineering and related industries. It involves the use of advanced mixed reality systems and tools that are specifically designed to meet the demanding requirements of engineering professionals. One key aspect of engineering-grade AR is its ability to provide accurate and precise spatial mapping and tracking. This allows engineers to overlay digital information, such as 3D models or data visualizations, onto the real-world environment with high fidelity and alignment.This allows engineers to visualize and interact with complex designs and systems in real-time, enabling them to spot problems, and streamline the design process. This allows them to visualize, analyze, and manipulate data in real-time, leading to improved design accuracy, reduced errors, and accelerated project timelines. 

Mixed Reality is the future of education and training at all levels. It allows students to experience a wide range of environments. It still requires some extra hardware and puts up a bit of a barrier against less well off students, but its ability to inspire speaks for itself and technology tends to come down in price over time.

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