When it comes to teaching young learners, we all know the importance of keeping engagement high. Educators have been doing this for years, using everything from songs and craft activities to games to keep young minds focussed.
Now, with the arrival of Augmented Reality (AR) technology, teachers have another tool in their toolbox of fun and educational things to do—a tool that is shaping up to be better than anything we’ve seen yet.
The reasons for this are numerous. Of course, there are the obvious points—it’s quick to set up and has zero ongoing costs. And it doesn’t require constant teacher intervention, thus enabling young learners more latitude to explore on their own. And kids seem to love it, often spending hours on learning adventures through three-dimensional and immersive environments.
However, the biggest advantage of AR is its direct impact on educational outcomes. It turns out, AR learners of all ages absorb more knowledge and recall it better than with any other method to date.
The only problem now is teachers are still unfamiliar with the plethora of applications available. So we’ve compiled a shortlist of the best free AR apps to help get the AR journey started.
World Brush: Paint the World in AR
Art and craft activities have always been a popular go-to in the classroom. Not only do they let kids develop their creative side, but they also prompt young learners to observe the world around them more closely.
But there’s always the problem of mess and cost. Materials cost money. They take time to set up and pack away. And they usually end up all over desks, floors, and grubby little fingers. That was until AR came along, and started offering us ways to still do art in the real world, all without the hassle of using real-world materials.
Of the AR art apps available, World Brush is one of the most impressive. It allows the real world to be painted in three dimensions, and the art then lives both in the cloud and in its location forever.
This means that anyone can now view the art. All they need to do is be in the artwork’s original location. And a copy of the app on their phone.
3D Bear: DIY AR Adventures
While the possibilities of 3D Bear are plausibly endless, it probably isn’t for everyday use. This is because 3D Bear is all about letting users create their own AR experiences, which may be a little too time-consuming if it’s not for something special.
However, there are cases where this app’s ability to create AR experiences will prove invaluable. It could be that a teacher needs to create content that doesn’t yet exist in AR. Or it could even be a novel and engaging way for students to present their work to their peers.
Of course, the 3D Bear would also be great for baptizing young learners into the world of creating things in the digital realm. With tools to scan assets with cameras, place virtual objects into immersive experiences, and even print things in 3D, this app is the Swiss Army Knife of digital creation. And these are all skills that are only going to become increasingly useful as we make the great transition towards the 3D metaverse, making this a great educational tool for teaching kids about working with tech.
Balloon Pop Fun Learning: Pop Goes the Weasel?
While the premise of this app (popping balloons) is probably the most fun of all the apps we’ve listed, it also offers one of the richest AR learning experiences that we’ve seen to date. This is because it uses the power of AR to provide gamified educational content. Like this, as kids attempt to pop the most balloons to get the highest score, they will incidentally find themselves absorbing educational content, maybe without even knowing it.
To make this happen, Balloon Pop Fun Learning designed a scoring system that promotes popping the balloon that corresponds to a written or audio prompt. When prompted to pop a giraffe, kids will be awarded maximum points if they can accurately pop the giraffe-shaped balloon.
And while there are no weasels, (despite the promises of our subtitles) there is plenty of rich material that young learners need to get familiar with. This includes numbers, letters, basic spelling, colors, animals, and more.
The Possibilities Are Endless
These are not the only AR apps out there. Indeed, there are quite literally hundreds of them on app stores already. They are, however, some of the best AR apps that are available for free right now.
The only thing required is a smartphone and an account on its respective app store. Assuming you have that, you’re now ready to delve into the wonderful world of educational and fun augmented reality learning apps.
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