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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

How augmented reality can help early learners

Augmented reality for pre-primary education chiefly focus on helping children familiarise and associate themselves with real-life situations that are otherwise not possible to recreate within the four walls of the classroom.

Published: August 7, 2019 2:06:19 pm
augmented reality Augmented reality is a multi-sensory interactive experience of the real-world environment.

By Beas Dev Ralhan

Effective early learning is one of the ways to ensure the proper developmental progress of a child, as per data gathered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the basis of PISA assessments before 2012. It is important to train learners in facing the challenges of the future from as early as possible. However, it is easier said than done, especially for preschoolers, since their attention span on a single activity ranges from 5-15 minutes depending on how engaging the task is.

Learning is more effective when children engage with it voluntarily; therefore, it is necessary for preschool instruction to incorporate interesting technologies to create attractive learning environments. In this scenario, Augmented Reality has become one of the most popular technologies for preschool education.

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality is a multisensory interactive experience of the real-world environment. The experience is woven with the physical environment in such a way that it seems to be a part of the real world. A common example would be looking at a building with an AR device and seeing its historical information superimposed via computer-generated graphics. Content in multimedia format is integrated into a real-time learning environment, popularly with scannable markers embedded in flashcards or books.

Augmented reality for pre-primary education chiefly focus on helping children familiarise and associate themselves with real-life situations that are otherwise not possible to recreate within the four walls of the classroom. Students can acquaint themselves and interact with concepts such as the human body, wild animals and birds, parts of a home or people of different professions in a community.

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How augmented reality helps early learners

The majority of cognitive development for tiny tots happens at the age of 2.5 – 5.5 years. A 3D audio-visual approach would be the most ideal for their holistic development than the 2D visual approach because it has a more sensory impact, which is very important in early childhood education. With the help of augmented reality products, children can examine every aspect of objects and animations by turning them or magnifying them with their hands. It feeds their inherent curiosity and gives them a chance to experience from up close things that are not readily available in the classroom scenario.

Preschool academic experts have pressed on the harmful effects of technology on children, and how exposure to technology at this age/stage should be limited. Exposure to technology in beneficial ways can help kids learn better as well as improve their technical skills and their confidence in using technology.

Augmented reality products can also be used to learn anywhere, anytime, improving chances of collaboration and interactivity for children. Research has shown that AR applications have a positive effect on the ability of pupils to express themselves. This can develop their communication skills and further aid in developing their social-emotional skills.

The future of AR in preschools

Augmented reality is also converging with robotics. Recently, New York University research scientists have created a platform to control bots through augmented reality. New games with AR robots as the chief control are also becoming popular. With this, early learners can learn the elementary principles of STEM which centre around solving real-world problems through collaboration and hands-on inquiry. Introducing this in primary schools may seem daunting, but it will help improve their tinkering skills with fewer chances of getting hurt with physical robotics components.

The best part of integrating AR in preschool learning is that it does not need complicated equipment, thereby increasing its usability for youngsters. It gives various ways of engaging their interest in learning, making classes fun and effortless.

(The writer is Co-founder and CEO, Next Education India Pvt. Ltd.)

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