Augmented Reality and Learning

Recently BMW Group is working on augmented reality windshield displays. I think this is a really cool idea and finally we are seeing more use of augmented reality(AR) technology integrated for commercial and practical use. I can’t help but think that perhaps the day when we can share more on how to use AR for learning is coming soon. Tony Karrer’s blog eLearning Technology did a good job summarizing some of the posts on topics relating to AR on e-learning.

For a definition of augmented reality, my trusted Wikipedia did a good job of explaining what it is:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.”

For more information, you can read the full article in Wikipedia.

Getting back to AR’s application on learning, here are some thoughts and ideas I have about using it for workplace learning:

  • New employee orientation: I find it especially helpful when your workplace is somewhat enormous such as a multi-level office building or consists of several buildings. It is hard enough to remember every one of your new colleagues’ names, never mind where the kitchen and photocopy rooms are. We could develop something that provide helpful contextual information on where you are going, with virtual indications or “marks” superimposed on actual locations and to guide you around your new space.
  • A portable manual for tools/technologies/equipments: To take it a step further, there are also tools and equipments that you need help to operate. For example, I am terrible at operating a fax machine (old technologies are terrifying), and each time I need to fax something, which is rare, I have to bother my colleague to provide instruction and assurance that I am indeed putting the paper in the right way. Now, if only there is a way for AR to help overlay information and tips when I am at the fax machine, sort of a virtual user manual if you will. Again, the in-context usage is useful.
  • Knowledge management: So far, all the AR applications are being used on roads, buildings, surroundings, etc. Why can’t we have AR that scan human? It is not as scary as it sounds. For example, if I am working on a project on developing social media learning strategies for work, it would be helpful to have a technology to assist me in locating whom I can talk to within walking distance of my workplace. Who has the subject matter knowledge and how can I find out more information before I actually go and talk to him/her. Think of it as a navigation system for knowledge in the workplace. Of course, there are ethical issues and it will be restricted to work-related info and on a voluntary basis in terms of provision of information.

Can you think of any other use for AR for workplace learning? I would love to see some applications being developed and used out there.

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