Augmented Reality in Education: Examples, Benefits, & Use Cases

Discover the benefits of augmented reality in education, explore real-world use cases, and learn how you can incorporate AR into your own teaching practice.
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Augmented Reality in Education

Nowadays, understanding and accommodating different learning styles is a huge part of an effective educational environment. Because everyone processes information uniquely, it’s impossible to take a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and expect the same results from each student.

Recognizing the variations in learning styles is the first step toward tailoring teaching methods to meet every student’s needs. And with augmented reality (AR) as a sidekick, it’s possible to cover the entire spectrum of learning styles in the same classroom. By mixing the best parts of reality with key digital information, AR gives the students a unique opportunity to explore and experience concepts in a way that traditional teaching methods simply can’t match.

Up for giving your students a tour of a beehive to see its inner workings? Want to bolster your geometry lessons with 3D geometric form manipulation? What about exploring vital organs in the human body in full color? Regardless of the educational use case, AR has the potential to revolutionize the way we teach and learn.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a technology that overlays digital elements onto real-world objects to enhance what users see and experience in the world around them. By making complex concepts more accessible and engaging, it’s rapidly transforming every stage of education. From primary school all the way to professional development, AR empowers a richer understanding of any learning material.

Of course, both AR and VR have the ability to transform learning experiences in education, but they differ in two key ways: immersion and versatility.

Ultimately, the differentiator is that AR enhances existing educational experiences, while VR creates entirely new ones. Either way, they both offer unique, effective learning experiences in education. In fact, according to a study by PwC, they found that – with AR/VR – learners are:

275% more confident

275% more confident applying the skills they learned

4x faster

Learn 4x faster than traditional methods

3.75x more engaged

3.75x more engaged with the content

4x more focused

4x more focused than their e-learning peers

How Does Augmented Reality Work?

To recap, AR overlays digital content onto real-world objects, creating an interactive experience that enhances what users see and experience. However futuristic it may sound, it’s being used across all industries – education included.

For the proper digital information to show up correctly on your AR device of choice, the position and orientation of the surrounding objects in real life are calculated using a combination of hardware, software, and sensors.

These are the three main types of AR technology:

Location-Based Augmented Reality

Utilizing a device’s GPS and other location-based sensors, this form of AR presents contextual information based on the user’s location.

augmented reality in education location-based ar

In an educational setting, location-based AR can be employed in field trips, outdoor learning activities, and geography lessons, providing students with real-time information about their surroundings and enhancing their understanding of the world.

Projection-Based Augmented Reality

By projecting digital content onto physical objects, this type of AR creates an interactive dashboard within the real environment. This can be particularly useful in subjects such as science, engineering, and mathematics, where it can help students visualize abstract concepts, explore 3D models, or even simulate experiments.

Superimposition-Based Augmented Reality

Allowing for the modification or replacement of an existing image with new digital elements, superimposition-based AR is especially valuable in fields like history, art, and biology, where students can virtually dissect specimens, examine artifacts, or analyze artworks without the need for physical access.

augmented reality in education superimposition-based ar

Integrating AR-enabled content into educational materials allows students to gain access to rich, interactive visuals linked to their course concepts. By enhancing their upfront learning experience, it also promotes deeper comprehension and long-lasting retention of the subject matter.

Benefits of Using Augmented Reality in Education

AR technology has the potential to revolutionize the learning experience, offering unique advantages that cater to various learning styles and subject matter. Some tangible benefits of incorporating it in the classroom include:

Enhanced Engagement

It’s simple: AR creates experiences that capture and maintain students' interest. When students interact with digital content in real-world environments, they develop a stronger connection to the subject matter. And when they have a solid foundation to build on, students develop a deeper commitment to their education and retain more information, longer.

Improved Visualization

AR presents complex concepts and abstract ideas in a visually engaging manner, so students find it easier to understand and internalize even the toughest topics. By combining 3D models and simulations with conventional text, AR breaks down barriers that traditional teaching methods might face in conveying difficult concepts.

Motivation and Confidence

Unsurprisingly, real-time feedback and positive reinforcement encourage students to learn from their mistakes in a constructive manner, boosting their self-esteem as a result. The resulting motivation then translates to a more proactive approach to learning and a greater willingness to take on challenges.

Differentiated Instruction

AR accommodates diverse learning styles and preferences, allowing teachers to create customized educational experiences that resonate with each student. This personalized learning experience, tailored to individual students' needs, ensures a more inclusive and effective educational environment.


AR is a low-budget entry point to the wonderful world of XR since most users already own the devices to use it (i.e. tablets and cellphones). Sure, there are upfront investments required for AR devices and content, but the long-term benefits actually reduce spend on additional resources. And as AR becomes more mainstream, it will continue to become more accessible and affordable for educational institutions.


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: AR breaks down learning barriers. By enabling students to interact with objects or places that would typically be out of reach – exploring human anatomy, observing dinosaurs, or examining famous paintings – AR provides unique educational experiences that foster curiosity and expand students' horizons.

Skill Development

The interactive nature of AR promotes the development of essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. As students continue to engage with AR content, they learn to apply these skills in real-world situations, better preparing them for future careers and personal growth. Because of this career preparation aspect, there’s a big overlap with medical training applications, too.

Augmented Reality in Different Educational Settings

Everything needs an update from time to time. Now, it’s education’s turn. AR is adding an engaging twist to both students’ and professionals’ experiences.

AR in Primary and Secondary Education

Elementary schools are using AR to enhance learning in traditionally difficult or, let’s face it, dull subjects. Whatever they use it for, AR makes learning fun and engaging for elementary school kids.

In fact, Silver Lake Elementary School is giving conventional geography lessons a facelift. With an AR sandbox in each classroom, students watch topographical lines and colors projected onto the sand change in real time. They can manipulate the landscape while observing changes in elevation, water flow patterns, and erosion processes. This hands-on learning experience allows students to grasp complex concepts in an engaging and intuitive manner, fostering a deeper understanding of geography and environmental science.

augmented reality in education silver lake sandbox
Image source: cjonline

AR in Higher Education

Once students move on to colleges and universities, AR continues to create interactive learning experiences to supplement traditional teaching methods. It’s particularly effective for medical education, like studying previously misunderstood medical conditions.

For instance, at Yale’s Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM), researchers and students employ AR to study the brain and the psychological mechanisms underlying hallucinations and delusions. They’ve created AR simulations that mimic these experiences, so participants can safely explore and analyze the neurological and cognitive processes that give rise to such phenomena.

This cutting-edge approach offers invaluable insights into mental health and continues to pave the way for improved diagnostic and treatment methods in the field of psychology.

AR in Vocational and Technical Training

Like in most settings, AR can mimic real-world scenarios in vocational and technical training, allowing trainees to practice and develop their skills in a safe and controlled manner. This is particularly useful for technical skills training, where learners need to practice hands-on skills and procedures.

Take welding, for example. Columbus State Community College and Lincoln Electric RealWeld have partnered to integrate AR into welder training programs.

augmented reality in education cscc and lincoln electric realweld

With AR, students can practice welding techniques in a digitally-overlaid environment before transitioning to real-world applications. The AR system provides real-time feedback on technique, enabling students to refine their skills and gain confidence in their abilities. This innovative approach to vocational training has a three-fold benefit: it reduces material waste, increases safety, and accelerates the learning process for aspiring welders.

AR in Professional Development

AR use cases in training and professional development settings are climbing. And what’s more fitting than an educator-friendly use case?

Educators around the globe are leveraging AR for Teacher Professional Development (TPD) training. Semantic Scholar’s AR platform allows teachers to engage in interactive learning experiences designed to enhance their teaching skills and knowledge.

augmented reality in education professional development

By exploring scenarios, practicing strategies, and receiving instant feedback through AR simulations, educators can refine their teaching techniques, improve their classroom management, and better cater to diverse learning styles. This cutting-edge approach to professional development empowers teachers to elevate their instructional abilities and positively impact student outcomes.

Challenges of Implementing Augmented Reality in Education

The purpose of AR is to fortify students’ educational foundation. But even with all its applications, there are a few challenges to using AR in education.

Cost & Resources

One of the main challenges of implementing AR in education is the cost and resources required to acquire and maintain the necessary devices and software. As we mentioned, AR is a low-budget entry point to the wonderful world of XR since most users already own the devices to use it (i.e., tablets and cellphones).

But once teachers start exploring content, they often realize there are tons of problems associated with managing it – not to mention that the devices have unrestricted access to the app store and web browser. Keep in mind that for successful implementation, you’ll need to pay recurring XR content and XR MDM costs. Factor each cost in carefully so you can budget accordingly.

Technical Challenges

Technical expertise is required to set up and maintain both the devices and the software. Whether it’s compatibility issues between devices and software, troubleshooting technical problems, or ensuring that the AR experience runs smoothly, technical help is a must.

Because of this need, schools and universities need to invest in technical support if they haven’t already.

Lack of Content

While many applications and resources are available, finding high-quality, relevant, and effective AR content that aligns with curricular goals can be difficult. Educators may need to invest significant time and resources in creating or adapting AR content to meet their specific needs.

App Store Content

Most educators considering AR for their classrooms think the “where” of content is easy; they’ll simply download XR content from an app store.

Using app stores for educational purposes seems like the path of least resistance, but it may cause problems in the long run (and is a pain to manage). There is no process for one parent license in a consumer app store which means you would have to create an individual account for each student device and then manually download the desired content to each device. From that point, students would have unrestricted access to the app store and native AR web browsers.

This isn’t such a big deal with a handful of devices, but it's still an absolute pain to deal with. So, the best way for educators to use XR content is to actually work with third-party app developers like VictoryXR. If you want to roll out AR, find an educational content developer upfront.

Battery Life

Because AR relies on constant processing and overlaying digital content onto the real world, it demands considerable power from devices. Obviously, this constant processing depletes batteries, and, once the devices are dead, the entire learning experience is disrupted. Depending on the availability of chargers in the classroom (and the length of time needed to charge), students may be without access to crucial educational content during lessons.

To overcome this challenge, educational institutions must ensure that devices are regularly charged and explore power-efficient AR solutions to optimize the learning process.

Uncomfortable Headwear

Although AR can be used on tablets and cellphones, when it comes to AR headsets, they’re frankly uncomfortable for extended periods of time. Prolonged use can cause physical strain or fatigue, impacting students' focus and willingness to engage with AR content. Be sure to prioritize comfort when selecting AR hardware and encourage regular breaks for students during AR-based lessons. Or, just stick to smartphones or tablets and skip the specialized headwear altogether.

Learning Curve

The user interface for AR applications can be complex. Educators need to set aside time and resources to train students on how to use the technology – not to mention for learning it themselves. Both parties need to spend time learning how to integrate and navigate AR tech in order for it to reach its full potential in the classroom.

Device Management

Existing device management solutions for companies using AR won't work in educational settings. But managing multiple AR devices in a classroom setting is nearly impossible to do without help. There’s the restricting of web browsers, finding educational content from XR content developers, updating that XR content, and controlling the user experience – all on top of the “business as usual” educators' responsibilities.

Obviously, this is even more challenging in large classrooms or in schools with limited IT resources, so you’ll need a dedicated solution for XR devices.

Best Practices for Rolling Out Augmented Reality in Educational Settings

When rolling out AR in educational settings, there are several best practices you can follow to minimize the challenges you encounter along the way.

Identify Learning Objectives and Content to Fulfill Those Learning Objectives

AR content should support specific learning objectives and outcomes. As an educator, you’ll need to carefully identify the learning objectives and desired outcomes for your specific AR program. Then, select AR content that aligns with those specific objectives to set both you and your students up for success.

Ensure Adequate Resources

Implementing AR in educational settings can either be cost-prohibitive or cost-effective depending on the hardware, software, and personnel resources you’re targeting. Either way, make sure that you have the appropriate resources and funds in place to support the program, including the devices, content, mobile device managers, and any supplementary technical support.

Provide Training and Support for Educators

Everyone – educators included – should be trained on how to use AR devices and software. As an educator, you’ll need to take your training a step further than your students to nail down how to best integrate AR into your curriculum.

Find an MDM Who Can Manage Your Devices

A mobile device management (MDM) provider is an essential tool for managing AR devices in educational settings. In addition to managing all the devices seamlessly, an MDM can remotely install and manage all AR content on all devices to control what your students see and do. Of course, you want to ensure that your students are using AR effectively and safely, but you can’t be everywhere at once. To reduce the workload for educators who may be managing AR devices, turn to an MDM.

But here’s the key: not just any traditional unified endpoint manager (UEM) or MDM will do. Because of all the requirements associated with AR in education, you’ll need a dedicated, specialized MDM like ArborXR.

When using XR in classrooms, you need to lock down all devices and know what students are working on. ArborXR provides ArborXR Home and Kiosk modes to keep students out of app stores and web browsers and control what they can see and do with AR. And educators see the benefits firsthand.

So, if you’re starting out a new XR pilot program or just need help managing XR devices across classrooms, campuses, and school districts, we have you covered. Get started with a free trial today.

Integrate Augmented Reality into Your Classroom with ArborXR

Augmented reality offers incredible potential to revolutionize education. From boosting engagement to enriching learning outcomes, AR has already showcased numerous advantages for both learners and educators. And while there are challenges, such as battery life and uncomfortable headwear, the benefits far outweigh the cons.

Plus, innovative companies like ArborXR are addressing the challenges with dedicated XR MDM solutions. After all, ArborXR was created to make XR experiences in education seamless – and it shows. We’re trusted by 2,000+ companies worldwide, we have more than 420+ schools on the platform, and we have customers in 90+ countries.

As the rate of innovation continues to climb, educators have to keep up. Luckily, by integrating AR into their curriculum, we can all provide a better learning environment to properly equip students with the skills and knowledge they need for a successful future.

Want to explore the use of VR in your classroom? Give us a shout or get started today.

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