What's better for education - Ar or VR? That's the question I'm exploring across this five part series. Obviously I feel that they both have merit, otherwise this site would only be dedicated to one of them. This series is exploring the pros and cons of each across five rounds of head-to-head analysis using a set of five key criteria.
Please do join the conversation by sharing the posts on social media or adding your own comments to each round.
ROUND 2: Range of Content
So in Round One, AR took an early lead based on the fact that it's easier to implement in the classroom. Round Two switches the focus to the range of content available. There are two key ways to analyse this; based on curriculum areas and based on teaching stages. We'll do both here and see what comes out on top.
Dinosaurs, Animals and the Solar System...
My word there are a lot of AR apps that cover these three topics! Science is definitely the one curriculum area that educational AR developers seem focused on, that's for sure. It’s not all lizards and planets though and there are some great apps for other areas of Science that focus on topics like the human body and chemistry, though with DAQRI moving exclusively into industrial applications, the field has thinned somewhat.
ARKit has heralded some interesting new titles though including the AR version of the Hungry Caterpillar story and augmented reality drawing apps like World Brush. The Math Ninja app is a fun little addition to the AR catalogue too. There’s also a stack of apps to measure in AR, though the accuracy of these varies considerably. I do really like JigSpace and i have a feature dedicated to that in the works,
Beyond these, we also have the AR creation platforms such as Blippar and Aurasma which allow users to create their own augmented reality content by tagging media to a chosen trigger. These are undoubtedly powerful tools but I find many educators do not stick with them as they do not have the time to create the AR content on a regular basis. Nonetheless, they can be harnessed to produce content across a range of curriculum areas.
These sit alongside the AR colouring apps like Quiver, Chromville and Pixelbug which allow users to colour a printed image and watch it come to life. These are excellent and work particularly well in EYFS and KS1. Quiver is the best option for educators - even offering an Education Edition and it contains a clutch of great content like a volcano, the Earth and various animals. Many of these AR models are animated and share additional learning content with the user.
In terms of age range and teaching stage, much of the AR content is geared towards Primary School aged students. Some platforms like Lifeliqe will also appeal to Secondary teachers too though.
Overall AR definitely lacks breadth in its educational offerings. Let’s take a look at VR and see how that fares...
VR has an immediate advantage here since it encompasses 360 images, 360 videos and full simulated environments. Geography is a clear winner when it comes to VR with heaps of platforms offering virtual field trip type experiences. History too is beginning to benefit from the realisation that VR can allow students to travel in time, with platforms like TimeLooper, HistoryView VR and the Lithodomus apps doing a brilliant job of demonstrating the potential of VR in the History classroom.
Science was the clear focus when it came to AR, but VR has a lot to offer young scientists too. From 360 tours inside the human body on YouTube and in Expeditions to developing chemistry skills in SuperChem to exploring physics and engineering concepts, there are a huge range of VR science apps available, many of which offer a broader, more interactive experience than their AR counterparts.
VR also caters to the language arts, with a rise in Immersive language learning platforms like ImmerseMe and Mondly VR to experiences based in the world of literature. These dovetail into the likes of Mindshow and Theatre VR which are opening up new realms of possibility to students of the dramatic arts, allowing them to virtually step inside characters.
Being able to walk in someone else's shoes in VR has also lead to a host of empathetic experiences, many of which can be integrated into the Psychology curriculum. I’ve even successfully implemented something as simple of the Plank Experience in Psychology!
In terms of teaching stage, much of the VR content is definitely aimed at Primary and Secondary age students though there is definitely scope for integration in Higher Education - from more mature 360s on YouTube to medical platforms that could support budding doctors.
In my opinion it's pretty clear that VR is the outright winner when it comes to the range of content. YouTube alone probably has a far broader range of experiences than the entire pantheon of educational augmented reality content. Though VR is still such a nascent form of technology, there's already content available for pretty much every single area of the curriculum.
That ties things up at one round each. Join me next week as we head into Round Three and an analysis of the financial implications for schools looking to harness these technologies.