Monday, 19 June 2017 20:34

Augmented: The New Reality

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AUGMENTATION OF THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE IS ENABLING ACQUISITION OF 21ST- CENTURY SKILLS AND METACOMPETENCIES WHILE ENHANCING THE JOY OF LEARNING.

BY DR. SHRADHA KANWAR

The Web 3.0 era heralds the beginning of exhilarating times in the learning space. Imagine a world of learning where the flow of information is a beautiful choreography, rapturously engaging the learners as well as inspiring them to become part of the performing spectacle. Here, the words, sounds and motion relate to every sense of the being, create a synergistic impression, and build a composite understanding. This is the new learning engagement, and this is becoming real because of augmented reality (AR).

Augmented reality is not an aberration or an astounding world of disbelief, but a very pragmatic, yet powerful, integration of digital information that triggers the brain to perceive information differently. It is a judicious combination of the real-world environment with an extended overlay of new knowledge using technology as the powerful means to drive information in a multi-modal form.

AR overcomes a striking impediment of ordinary learning by introducing deeper, richer and more personalized learning experience. An infusion of play and humor (a characteristic of game-based learning), along with an intense reflection as part of the decision making process, ensures a popular, self-directed form of learning.

EXPERIENCING  NEW LEARNING

Imagined scenarios that extend the learning experience significantly boost the impact of a learning. For educators, researchers and practitioners, this realistic superimposition of a real-world setting as an augmented context with realistic visualization, provides a unique platform to customize teaching. By appropriate selection of ed-tech tools to make learning more adaptive and attuned to students’ learning styles, a lot can be done to expand its scope many fold.

A very tangible form of introducing AR in the learning scenario is by embedding visual data with static content, such as textbooks and presentations, thus enhancing oral instruction and written material. Regular teaching tools augmented to introduce fantastic 3-D elements, exaggerated visual scenarios, strategically implanting distorted data inputs even sometimes drifting towards visual infidelity, can advance memory recall and long-term learning.

Apart from the tremendous design appeal, another prime benefit is its ability to craft a differentiated learning environment, thus aiding learners with different multiple intelligences and learning styles. Kinaesthetic learners, who dominate the centennial generation, benefit the most as this multimodality of content is in alignment with their information processing patterns.

AUGMENTING NEW SKILLS

Maximum presence of AR has been evidenced in gaming. The learning space has always been the last to be benefited by advancements in technology. But things seem to be disrupting considerably, especially in these rapidly evolving times. The process of navigating through more engaging content results in learners becoming more intuitive and critical thinkers with a heightened prowess to creatively solve problems. Another contribution of AR is its ability to introduce a temperament of inquiry and curiosity, a necessary attribute of the 21st century learner.

AR amplifies the spatial and visual perceptions, substantially engaging learners. Once upon a time the word “digital” was looked up to with much awe and bewilderment. This is no longer the case, as everything spans digital today with no exception. Hence, words such as “augmented” and “virtual” that seem to be breaching the boundaries of reality, are in a very short span of time likely to become regular manifestations in the learning eco system.

Augmented reality, a beautiful coalescing of virtual with real, is all set to redefine learning scenarios. While augmented reality and its explorations into the learning space still seem to be at a nascent stage, the prospects seem to be never better than now. These are indeed the beginning of exhilarating times, where augmented is the new real!

–Dr. Shradha Kanwar is the National Head for Learning and Development at iNurture Education, an India-based education firm offering under graduate and post graduate programs in new-age domains across 30+ universities and colleges in India. She is an edu-scientist and an innovative learning technologies evangelist. Dr Kanwar has over 18 years of diverse experience in driving excellence and deep insight into creative intelligences and implementation of innovative learning solutions.

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