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Doctoral Student Justin Egresitz Encourages Educators to Bring Augmented Reality into the Classroom in New Paper

NC State College of Education doctoral student Justin Egresitz

From its use in the fictional world of Marvel superhero movies to real-life games like Pokemon Go, most students are familiar with augmented reality (AR) technology and some of its possibilities. Because of the “cool factor” of this technology, Justin Egresitz ’23PHD, a doctoral student in the NC State College of Education’s Learning and Teaching in STEM engineering and technology education program area of study, believes AR can have valuable benefits in technology and engineering classrooms. 

“It is a cool technology and one that is on the bleeding edge of innovations coming to the consumer market,” Egresitz said. “The question for educators, with regards to classroom application, is what do we do with it when the novelty wears off and how do we use it as a tool to reach our educational goals and outcomes?

Egresitz is the author of “Science Fiction No Longer: Augmented Reality and the Technology Engineering Classroom,” which was published in Technology and Engineering Teacher. The article discusses the educational benefits of introducing AR technology into the classroom as well as how to apply it to technology and engineering curricula. 

In the paper, Egresitz notes that AR technology can help students deepen their understanding of interconnected concepts by engaging with content in three-dimensional perspectives, where they can view, model and manipulate objects from multiple angles. Additionally, the use of AR technology can help reach students who struggle with traditional forms of learning, such as textbooks and lectures, through a more interactive learning environment. 

The use of AR technologies in the classroom, the paper states, also allows educators to create pedagogy where learning is more authentic and similar to real-world experiences students might experience outside of school and allows students to engage in problem-solving and metacognitive strategies. 

“The novelty and excitement of using AR apps can be used to set the hook, and then the educational opportunity that is presented uses that excitement to engage the student with the learning through the extended use of the AR tool,” Egresitz said. “As with any other piece of technology, the curriculum that drives its use must be robust and age appropriate, and the assignment should be centered around learning and not the tool itself.”

Since most teachers will likely not have access to a classroom set of devices that can run AR programs, Egresitz said educators will need to survey their students to determine what devices they have access to and determine the viability of AR apps and platforms on those devices.

To get the maximum benefit of AR technologies in the classroom, he also noted that educators must first feel comfortable and confident in using the tools themselves. He recommends educators spend time practicing with the software and developing any related skills before developing educational experience for their students. 

“I think there is value in allowing students time to explore the technology before using it in an assignment as well,” he said. “This gives them and [the teacher] time to get acquainted with the software and capabilities before any kind of assessment hinges on successful use of the technology. Students can also have fun while getting the hang of the technology, which makes learning that much more enjoyable.” 

In addition to helping technology and engineering students learn actual content, Egresitz’s paper also notes that the use of AR in the classroom can serve as a platform to engage them in a discussion about the big-picture implications of emerging technologies. 

It’s important, Egresitz said, for students to critically assess and understand the second- and third-order implications and impacts of technologies like AR, including the technology’s impact on socialization and interpersonal communication, what the social norms for using these technologies will be in the future and how technology can create a clear delineation between those of different socio-economic backgrounds. 

It is especially important for technology and engineering students to be able to critically assess the immediate and future implications of new and emerging technologies because they may one day play a role in generating the next wave of technological innovations. 

“Weighing the positives and negatives of bringing a technology to life, in my opinion, is a key consideration in the design process,” Egresitz said. “Answering the question of ‘We can, but should we?’ is crucial to a piece of technology having a positive net impact and one that should be on the minds of everyone in the process, including those who design and manufacture it.”