I recently came across a news article on a chain café in China using Shanghai Roastery digital web-app platform to offer customers an augmented reality (AR) experience.
By simply pointing their smartphones at certain spots, customers are able to access the café’s bean-to-up stories.
My question is: Is it possible for AR to be integrated into the school as part of the new post COVID-19 normal?
AR, at least initially, cannot replace the main pedagogic mode of teacher-delivering content. It is, however, suited to complementing desk-bound lessons, fostering autonomous inquiry and support skill or content mastery.
Imagine school premises with themed zones, where learners glean information by pointing their e-devices at certain features in the physical surroundings.
For example, in the geo-zone, a sub-section land use in Brunei Darussalam. To find paddy-farming areas on a large map after prior lessons on relief requirements for paddy fields, or perhaps current news regarding paddy schemes, the students simply point their e-devices to locate rice-growing areas and access video, graphic and text data.
Similarly, at school eco-gardens, students could find AR versions of flora and fauna specimens with biological and ecological information. Interactive virtual input from the students can be programmes to impact the ecosystem.
Another set of possible lessons could start with viewing videos of wind turbines. Then students would make models of a turbine and find a suitable location on school ground to site the models. Recognition would be given to the ones that generate the most energy, or are most reliable, sturdiest, best-looking and so on. Follow-up activities might include improving the prototype or making one for home use to power a fan or a light bulb.
Another potential adoption of AR is in the school library. Librarians reskilled in AR could be curators of not only physical books but also interactive digital resources. For students, these sources of information could be as academically reliable as reference books have been, unlike information picked up on the open Internet.
Conventional schooling of desk-bound sentences and pen-and-paper standardised exams has effectively empowered generations through the Third Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the Fourth. However, educators are aware that it is time to transition.
Is the technology that combines real and virtual schooling here? Definitely. The infrastructure, however, is not. And teachers will need to adapt quickly.
Once the current cohort of teachers cottoned on that the desired grades can be achieved by teaching to the test, drilling with past-year papers and model answers became important, including at tuition centres.
Another anecdote: A teacher, taking children out on a look-but-no-touching nature trek pre-COVID-19, wanted to point out the minute bristles on a tiny bug. She used the zoom function on the camera on her phone to do so. Such an on-the-spot innovation must be made by teachers with the already available technology.
The use of technical advancements in school usually follows that in the marketplace. Recall, for example, the use of the VCR, DVD, photocopier and computer laptop. These gadgets were already widely used at home and in the office before schools budgeted their acquisition. Hopefully, the adoption of AR as a learning is not too far behind.