We hear about technology’s impact on education all the time. Usually, that means computers, new apps, or 3D printers. Now there’s a new tool that has the promise of revolution, the potential for creating a new paradigm in how students learn. It’s called augmented reality.
"This is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen in education, really has the ability to be a game changer in how we engage students, and their ability to develop their skills," said Broward Schools superintendent Robert Runcie, after trying the system.
Made by Microsoft, the Hololens augmented reality system is basically a pair of goggles with powerful computing ability built-in. Unlike virtual reality goggles, the Hololens sees everything the wearer sees and projects interactive holograms into your environment. For example, a student can be in the middle of a crime scene, or can examine a 3D hologram of a human body from all sides.
"Cardiovascular system, respiratory system, nervous system, I can go throughout the parts and see how they look inside the body," explained one student as he was using the system.
Ronald Holley’s computer science class at Pompano Beach High School applied with Microsoft to be developers of the Hololens project. Microsoft said yes, sent the class four goggles plus software, and now the kids are writing code, figuring out different ways to use the product.
"I’d like to be a software engineer, it’s really cool to be able to get this head start and get into it now," said Olivia Stack, a senior at the school. She was wearing a shirt with the phrase, "I code, therefore I am."
"Really this is the way of the future, the way I see it, right now everything in history has been you’re watching videos or you’re reading a book, but why not actually go there, be immersed in the battle that happened, the strategies that took place, why not? Well now you can," explained teacher Ronald Holley.
The technology has almost unlimited potential to take students where they would not normally be able to go. Destinations now include ancient Rome, Machu Picchu in Peru, and eventually, just about anywhere. The images can be seen on a screen in the classroom, so discussion can engage everyone.
"There’s like endless amount of educational purposes and usefulness," said student Diego Guedez.
For students interested in game design or 3D imaging, the Hololens is a unique platform in which to work and learn. In one game already built-in, flying robots come bursting through the walls of whatever room the user is in, shooting flame balls you have to dodge to survive. In coming years, there will be no escaping augmented reality. It’s bound to make a huge impact in our schools.