AR in education #6: Things to consider when designing educational AR products

This blog entry will be a growing collection of questions that educators, designers and practitioners in general need to consider when designing/developing educational AR products.

Questions, questions and more questions

  • Who is the target group? What’s their educational level?
  • What is the learning environment? —> Classroom? Distance learning? Workplace? Indoors? Outdoors? …
  • What contents are to be conveyed?
  • Which part of the content to learn should be enhanced by AR?
  • What goal(s) should be achieved by using AR technology?
  • In what proportion will real and augmented content be combined?
  • How is the content prepared didactically?
  • Which AR device(s) will be used?
  • Which AR technology fits best? —> Trigger-based, View-based?
  • What are the advantages of AR in the learning context compared to traditional approaches? —> Which added value has AR in this case?
  • How can multiple senses be addressed?
  • How can cognitive overload be avoided?
  • How can teachers easily and quickly add/adapt content?

(to be continued)

AR in education #5: Advantages and Disadvantages

Hello again! In the following blog entry I will be writing about the advantages and limitations of using AR technology in the educational sector, which many studies already have been conducted to establish.

Advantages & Benefits

Many studies indicate that the use of AR in the educational field brings many benefits. According to a meta-review by Garzón, Pavón and Baldiris (2019), which analyzed 61 scientific publications, a total of 100% mentioned some kind of advantage when using AR systems in education. The following factors are the main advantages mentioned in their paper:

  • Learning gain: When using AR systems, students can improve their academic performance or even obtain better scores than students using traditional approaches. This improvement was reported not only by data, but also for different teachers and the students themselves
  • Motivation: The use of AR can increase the motivation of students as well as their level of fun while learning, compared to other pedagogical tools
  • Sensory engagement: When AR activates multiple senses, knowledge retention can improve.
  • Abstract concepts: AR can ideal to explain unobservable phenomena (i.e. the movement of the sun)
  • Autonomy: AR technology can not only help retain knowledge, but also gives students the possibility of retaining it for longer periods of time compared to other pedagogical methodologies
  • Memory retention: The combination of real and virtual worlds can increase the autonomy of students taking into account their natural abilities and motivation for using technological devices
  • Collaboration: AR can create possibilities for collaborative learning around virtual content which can facilitate learning, since it allows learners to interact with their partners, as well as with the educational content
  • Accessibility (not further described in the study)
  • Creativity (not further described in the study)

In a blog (not scientific!) by Sinha (2021) I found some more advantages of AR in education, that were not listed in the aforementioned study: 

  • Easy access to learning materials anytime, anywhere: AR could replace textbooks, physical forms, posters, and printed brochures. This mode of mobile learning could also reduce the cost of learning materials and make it easy for everyone to access
  • Safer practice: In cases like practicing a heart surgery or operating a space shuttle can be done with AR without putting other people in danger or risking millions of dollars in damage if something goes wrong

Disadvantages & Limitations

According to the aforementioned meta review by Garzón, Pavón and Baldiris (2019) 15% of the reviewed publications reported some disadvantages or problems when using AR in educational settings. The following factors are the main disadvantages mentioned in their paper:  

  • Complexity: Complexity can be an issure especially when designing for children. AR being a novel technology, which involves multiple senses, can become a very complex tool especially for those who do not have technological abilities
  • Technical difficulties: Technical problems like latency of wireless networks or limited bandwidth can become a problem as well as lack of teachers’ experience with tech
  • Multitasking: AR applications can demand too much attention, which can be a distraction factor. This can cause students to ignore instructions or important stages of the experience
  • Resistance from teachers: Some teachers may prefer having total control over content, despite recognizing the benefits of using AR applications

In a blog (not scientific!) by Omelchenko (2021) and another blog by Aleksandrova (2021) I found some more advantages of AR in education, that were not listed in the aforementioned study: 

  • Need of proper hardware: The use of AR requires at least a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet (which has to be up-to-date in order to install AR apps), which not all students may have
  • Content portability issues: An AR app needs to work equally well on all platforms and devices


Many studies indicate that AR has the potential to make learning processes faster, more fun and more effective. But some also point out that there are also several problems that can occur when AR is used in educational setting. Some studies also state that the context in which this technology is more effective than other educational media is still not clear and needs further research (Hantono, Nugroho & Santosa, 2018). Some future work could focus on support for teachers in adding and updating content as well as the comparison of AR to traditional teaching methods based on empirical data. It would also be important to do further research on special needs of specific user groups and accessibility features (Garzón, Pavón & Baldiris, 2019).



Aleksandrova, M. (2021, 17. August). Augmented Reality in Education. Dzone.Com.

Garzón, J., Pavón, J., & Baldiris, S. (2019). Systematic review and meta-analysis of augmented reality in educational settings. Virtual Reality, 23, 447-459.

Hantono, B., Nugroho, L.E., & Santosa, P.I. (2018). Meta-Review of Augmented Reality in Education. 2018 10th International Conference on Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (ICITEE), 312-315.

Omelchenko, S. (2021, 5. Dezember). Augmented Reality in Education: Use Cases, Benefits & Examples. Program-Ace.

Sinha, S. (2021, 12. Mai). Augmented Reality In Education: A Staggering Insight Into The Future. eLearning Industry.

AR in education #4: Taking a look at existing products

Hello again! For this blog entry I had a look at several educational AR apps (there are a loooot of them) in order to get a picture of when AR has added value for educational purposes and when it doesn’t. So I picked out a few examples and categorized them in good and bad ones and summed up why I did (not) like them. It’s also to mention that I only looked at digital apps that use visual augmentation. But first I want to give a short overview on the wide range of educational fields and educational levels existing AR products on the market cover (this list provided by Garzón, Pavón and Baldiris [2019] might not be complete):

  • Educational fields: Natural sciences, Mathematics, Statistics, Abstract concepts, Arts, Social sciences, Engineering
  • Education levels: Early childhood education, Primary education, Lower secondary education, Upper secondary education, Post-secondary non-tertiary education, Short-cycle tertiary education, Bachelor’s or equivalent level, Non-schoolers (work related trainings) – It’s to mention that educational AR products for Master’s or equivalent level and Doctoral or equivalent level might exist, but weren’t conducted in the study

The good

Augmented Creativity 

Augmented Creativity includes a total of six prototypes that can be used with mobile devides: Coloring Book, Music Arrangement, Physical-Interaction Game, City-Wide Gaming, Authoring Interactive Narratives and Robot Programming – I had a look at the first two of them. 

The Coloring Book is an application available that brings colored drawings to life: It comes with several templates that can be printed out and colored. When the drawing is scanned with the app on a smartphone or tablet (iOS and Android), it detects and tracks the drawing and displays an augmented, animated 3D version of the character, which is textured according to the child’s coloring (See Fig. 1).

Advantages the authors mention: 

  • Creative Goal: Fosters imagination, allows character individualization, helps to express feelings about character
  • Educational Goal: Improves coloring skills, 3D perception, and challenges imagination
  • Potential Impact: User-painted characters and levels, scripting virtual worlds through coloring

Why I like it:

  • The augmentation doesn’t intervene the act of drawing and coloring by hand (which I think is an important way of creative expression in early ages), but adds additional value by digitalizing it afterwards
  • Stimulates several senses
  • Works really well and looks super cute (smooth animations; exact coloring; live updates)
Fig. 1: Augmented Creativity – Coloring Book

The Music Arrangement is a set of flashcards where each card represents a musical element like instruments and music styles. The user can then choose instruments and styles independently and rearrange the song as imagined. By placing a card on a physical board, the app detects the marker on it and displays an augmented version of the instrument and plays the corresponding audio, as depicted in Fig. 2. AR even allows the user to change the position and the volume of the instruments while the song is playing, allowing them to direct the virtual band.

Advantages the authors mention: 

  • Creative Goal: Experiment with different instruments and styles to rearrange a song
  • Educational Goal: Teaches concepts of arrangements, styles, and the disposition of the band components
  • Potential Impact: Collaborative music arrangement experience, learn about the disposition of an orchestra

Why I like it:

  • Combines physical and digital interaction 
  • It stimulates several senses
  • Works really well and looks super nice
Fig. 2: Augmented Creativity – Music Arrangement

Quiver Education

Quiver Education is similar to the Coloring Book mentioned above, but with a greater focus on educational content: The user can choose from a range of coloring packs, print them and color them by hand. When the coloring is scanned with the app on a smartphone or tablet (iOS and Android), a colored, animated 3D model is displayed and additional information and interaction options are provided (see Fig. 3). The content is designed around topics as diverse as biology, geometry, the solar system and more. 

Why I like it:

  • The augmentation doesn’t intervene the process of coloring by hand
  • Stimulates several senses
  • A wide range of topics
  • ~ I’m still a little sceptical if it’s necessary to color a scene first in order to learn about it (i.e. a volcano)
Fig. 3: Quiver

Merge EDU

Merge EDU engages students in STEM fields with 3D objects and simulations they can touch, hold and interact with. The special thing about Merge is that the user has to hold a special cube in their hands where the augmentation is placed on, so the user feels like actually holding the object in their hands and can then interact with it (See Fig. 4). Merge is available for iOS and Android and can be used with mobile devices – It also offers glasses where a user can put their phone in to have their hands free to interact with the cube. 

Advantages the authors mention: 

  • 3D tactile learning
  • Flexibility: Can be used at home and at school
  • Curriculum aligned
  • Multisensory Instruction
  • Spatial Development
  • Accelerate Understanding
  • Focused Engagement

Why I like it:

  • The potential of the cube: It could potentially replace physical teaching aids
  • Big library of topics to explore
  • Users can upload and share their own creations
Fig. 4: Merge EDU

Human Anatomy Atlas

With the Human Anatomy Atlas medical students can turn any room into an anatomy lab: They can view and dissect a virtual model of a human organ or complete human body by scanning a printed picture (see Fig. 5) or simply placing a model on a flat surface (see Fig. 6). It’s also possible to study human muscles in motion by scanning a person as shown in Fig. 7.

Why I like it:

  • Students can study from anywhere and don’t have to go to an actual lab
  • Doing a dissection virtually might be helpdul to prepare for doing a dissection in real life (As far as I know from several people who are currently studying medicine, preparation for dissections is mostly done with the help of books, pictures, videos and physical models, but not with interactive digital models)
Fig. 5: Human Anatomy Atlas – Image marker
Fig. 6: Human Anatomy Atlas – Placing an object in space
Fig. 7: Human Anatomy Atlas – Live tracking of muscles

The bad

Sketch AR

With Sketch AR users can learn how to draw by using their smartphone camera: They can choose a sketch from a library and display it on a sheet of paper in front of them. The user can then follow the virtual lines on the paper step-by-step (See Fig. 8). The app also offers more features like minigames and AI portraits, but I only had a look at the AR feature. In general the app is designed really well and is also personalizable, but all in all I did not see the added value that AR has in this case.

Why I don’t like it:

  • Drawing might be difficult when looking at the paper though a small screen
  • While drawing I personally like to fixate the paper with one hand, which is not possible, because you have to hold your mobile device
  • I don’t see the advantes of AR compared to common image tracing (by printing it out and using it as a template)

An app that does pretty much the same is “Tracing Projector”, where I also don’t see the added value.

Fig. 8: SketchAR

On a general note

There are a lot of apps on the market – especially in children’s education – that try to replace a physical game with a digital one (i.e. playing with dominos), which is in my opinion not what AR should be used for. AR is supposed to enhance the user’s physical world and not replace it. I believe that it’s important to experience the world with as many senses as possible – especially in early ages – and haptic experiences should not be limited to holding and controlling a smartphone. Furthermore there are a lot of apps where the user can just randomly place 3D objects in the real world, but can’t do anything with them, which might be fun and playful though, but doesn’t have many educational values in my opinion.


That’s it for today, bye and good night! 



Garzón, J., Pavón, J., & Baldiris, S. (2019). Systematic review and meta-analysis of augmented reality in educational settings. Virtual Reality, 23, 447-459.

Zünd, F., Ryffel, M., Magnenat, S., Marra, A., Nitti, M., Kapadia, M., Noris, G., Mitchell, K., Gross, M.H., & Sumner, R.W. (2015). Augmented creativity: bridging the real and virtual worlds to enhance creative play. SIGGRAPH Asia 2015 Mobile Graphics and Interactive Applications.

AR in Education #2: Comparing XR, AR, VR & MR

Hello again! My second blog entry will be about the the differences between four concepts: Extended Reality (XR), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

XR, AR, VR, MR,… What??

Extended Reality (XR): XR is a “catch-all”-term for technologies that enhance or replace our view of the real world. This can be done through overlaying or immersing computer text and graphics into real-world and virtual environments, or even a combination of both. XR encompasses AR, VR and MR.

Augmented Reality (AR): AR enhances our view of the real world by overlaying the real-world environment with digital content across multiple sensory modalities. It detects objects in the real-world environment and overlaps those with computer-generated data such as graphics, sounds, images, and texts. In other words: AR comines the real world with the digital world. Users can experience AR very easily through an smartphone application, but also through special AR wearables (i.e. headsets, glasses), displays, projectors or even contact lenses.

Virtual Reality (VR): While AR enhances the user’s real environment, VR completely replaces it with a virtual one. By using full-coverage headsets the user’s real-world surroundings are completely shut out while using. Advanced VR experiences  even allow users to move in a digital environment and hear sounds. Moreover, special hand controllers can be used to enhance VR experiences.

Mixed Reality (MR): MR is the newest of these immersive technologies and combines aspects of AR and VR. When experiencing MR, virtual content is not only overlaid on the real environment (as in AR) but is anchored to and interacts with that environment. Instead of relying only on remote control devices, smart glasses, or smartphones, users can also use their gestures, glancing or blinking, and much more to interact with the real and the digital world at the same time. 

Long Story short:

  • Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term for technologies that enhance or replace our view of the real world
  • Augmented Reality (AR) overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment
  • Virtual Reality (VR) immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment
  • Mixed Reality (MR) not just overlays but anchors virtual objects to the real world

For a better understanding, I found this nice infographic:

Comparison of VR, AR and MR

Okay, got it. But why AR?

As far as I know at this point, all three techniques – AR, MR & VR – can be useful for educational purposes. The choice of the technology might depend on several factors like the field of education, the equipment or the target group. Still, I chose to focus on AR for several reasons: 1) I like the idea of learning new things by enhancing the user’s environmental view instead of replacing it like it is with VR (my subjective opinion); 2) AR is easily accessible via smartphones or tablets, while VR and MR need more advanced technology (i.e. headsets). There might come up more advantages (and maybe some limitations and disadvantages too) the further I dive into the topic, let’s see. But that’s it for now! 🙂





Arm Blueprint. (2021, 11. August). xR, AR, VR, MR: What’s the Difference in Reality? Verfügbar unter: 

RubyGarage. (2021, 27. August). VR vs AR vs MR: Differences and Real-Life Applications. 

Vsight. (2021, 9. Oktober). The difference between AR, VR, and MR. Verfügbar unter:

AR in Education #1: Intro

Hello there! This is my very first blog entry about my journey of finding a suitable topic/project for my master’s thesis, so here we go: I chose “AR in Education” as an overall topic, which I would like to approach rather broadly at first and then gradually narrow it down in order to find a specific research question to work with. The aim of this first blog entry is to give a quick overview of 1) what AR is and 2) how it’s used in the educational sector. Let’s get started:

AR in a nutshell

Augmented Reality (AR) allows to enhance the real physical world through digital visual elements, sound or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. It incorporates three basic features: 1) a combination of real and virtual worlds, 2) real-time interaction and 3) accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects. AR thus provides both the real and virtual world simultaneously to the users – either in a constructive (i.e. additive to the natural environment) or a destructive (i.e. masking of the natural environment) way. Further information on the technology behind AR (i.e. hardware, software, algorithms and development) will be covered in another blog entry.

AR in the educational sector

AR techniques are already used in various fields like entertainment, tourism, health care or cultural heritage – just to mention a few. But it’s the educational sector, that caught my attention – especially children’s education. I asked myself “Can AR be used to make learning faster, better and more fun?”. As far as I know at this point, the answer is yes. There is already a range of educational materials like textbooks or flashcards that contain embedded “markers” or triggers that, when scanned by an AR device, produce supplementary information rendered in a multimedia format. But that doesn’t mean that I am not sceptical about AR as an educational tool – In my opinion “children & digital devices” is a double-edged sword. That’s why I would like to take a very close look at where AR has added value and where it doesn’t (in another blog entry).

My next steps

  • Dive in deeper into the technology behind AR 
  • Find out, what already exists on the market (and hopefully find a niche, where there’s a need)
  • Discuss, where AR has added value and where it doesn’t

That’s it for today! 🙂



Afnan, Muhammad, K., Khan, N., Lee, M.-Y., Imran, A., & Sajjad, M. (2021). School of the Future: A Comprehensive Study on the Effectiveness of Augmented Reality as a Tool for Primary School Children’s Education. Applied Sciences, 11(11), 5277. MDPI AG. doi:

Elmqaddem, N. (2019). Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Education. Myth or Reality? iJET, 14, 234-242. doi: 10.3991/IJET.V14I03.9289