When you give students the opportunity to learn in new and exciting ways, it is not surprising that they excel. I have been amazed how quickly students adapt to the latest technology and am inspired by their continuous desire to learn.
Last week, Qualcomm Wireless Reach announced an expansion of its Augmented Reality (AR) for Learning program. Soon, wireless devices in The San Diego Museum of Art will contain educational experiences that will be available to the public for the first time. Nathan Fletcher, senior director for corporate development at Qualcomm, kicked off the event by emphasizing the impact mobile has on education.
In 2009, Wireless Reach collaborated with School in the Park and The Museum of Art to create mobile apps that engage students in ways they don’t experience in a traditional classroom setting. Since its inception, the program has steadily grown and now, using Vuforia, Qualcomm’s AR platform, more than 20 AR apps aligned to 3rd and 4th grade standards have been created to enhance learning at the Museum, the San Diego History Center and the San Diego Zoo.
The apps overlay digital education material and interactive media on physical environments, including text, images, audio, video, 3D models and questions to enable a true mobile experience. Brian Patterson, the museum educator, demonstrated how using AR on a Snapdragon®-based tablet, students are immersed into a virtual marketplace along the Silk Road where they assume the role of a potter, weaver, sculpture or calligrapher. When students answer the interactive questions correctly they are rewarded with gold coins, which they can use to purchase items at the marketplace.
At Qualcomm we believe a mobile device in the hands of each student can have transformative results, opening up learning opportunities for everyone. The impact of this project is currently being analyzed by Project Tomorrow, a national education nonprofit organization. Preliminary results show that:
- Students gain a significantly broader and deeper understanding of course material as a result of interactive applications. As a result they become engaged in the classroom and actively participate more frequently.
- Students readily collaborate with their classmates and they help each other navigate the mobile experiences.
- The classroom becomes predominantly student-driven versus teacher-directed.
- Customized curriculum and real-time assessment allows students to learn at their own pace and have a sense of ownership over their educational experiences.
One further and unexpected result reported by instructors was that AR applications and instructional activities helped students that are learning English as a second language better understand new concepts, vocabulary and pronunciation. As the first in my family to attend school in the United States, my English lessons were limited to the time that I was in the classroom. I can definitely see how an educational device with interactive content and videos to reinforce the concept could be less intimidating than learning how to pronounce foreign words and read out loud in front of teachers and peers.
These results show the positive impact that technology has on education and how 3G/4G mobile devices can open up a new world of possibilities, where students can learn anywhere at anytime. I believe that if you empower people, especially children, there is no limit to what they can achieve.