How to use Augmented Reality in class

Have you been playing Pokémon Go lately? You have probably heard about it if you haven’t actually tried it out for yourself. Apart from cute Pokémons, one of the reasons this game is sensational is because it involves Augmented Reality (AR), which is a digital layer that can be seen on top of the real world through your mobile device, which is super fun.  
The potential for using AR in the classroom is huge. For example:

  • Discovery — geolocated or target-based information
  • Skills Training — technical and mechanical applications
  • Spatial Learning — anatomy lessons, architectural models
  • Impossible Interactions — spinning molecules, brain surgery, interstellar flight
  • Engaging Reading Experiences — pop-up books of the future

NOTE: There are a variety of devices now for accessing AR, such as various goggles, glasses, and projections. However, in this Tip, the focus is on phone and tablet mobile devices.

  1. You use an app on your device to interact with digital layers. The app uses your phone camera to show the real world to you, behind the additional digital layer of information.
  2. In addition to apps like Pokémon Go, there are AR browser Apps for your mobile device similar to web browsers like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.  Some common browsers are: Aurasma, Layar, Wikitude, and DAQRI. Contrary to web browsers, their content is not cross-compatible; the content must be offered by the specific browser company.
  3. There are two common types of AR ‘triggers’ that tell the app/browser when to show the digital content. One is based on an object and the other is based on your location (latitude/longitude).
  4. VR ≠ AR. Virtual Reality (VR) is not the same as AR. Usually, VR is a completely immersive experience where the real world is obfuscated completely, with technology such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

There are a growing number of services that allow you to easily create AR layers inside a drag/drop interface. Most have a cost associated but, if you contact the company directly, will often allow for educational use at a reduced or free rate.  Each service below is unique and the types of things you can display vary but can include: 2D images, video, links to websites, audio, animations, and 3D models.  


  1. Discovery through a Scavenger Hunt – ARIS Games was used in an ESL course for practicing speaking with English speakers through inquiry, exploring campus, and connecting with classmates. It was also the basis for student-led game design and presentation activity. (ESLG 121 – Duff Johnson with Sabine Siekmann, CITE Fellow)  
  2. Research and Illustration for Science Posters – Students were responsible for researching biochemistry topics, creating presentations, and attaching their content to an AR layer on a couple posters. The posters were then presented to a larger audience. (CHEM 674 – Kriya Dunlap, CITE Fellow)
  3. Research for an English Class – As part of a larger project,  students worked in groups to research topics learned about at the Museum of the North and created AR layers to illustrate their findings. (ENGL 211 – Jaclyn Bergamino)
  4. Conference Competition – A historical quest for attendees at an education conference was created based on Captain Cook’s explorations. Questers would investigate and be quizzed using AR. (ASTE Conference – UAF CTL Design Team)
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UAF Instructional Designers

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UAF Instructional Design Team.
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