Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

The Educational Possibilities of Augmented Reality

Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

The Educational Possibilities of Augmented Reality

Article excerpt


A variety of emergent technologies (semantic web, gamification, cloud computing, learning analytics, MOOC, Internet of things, personal learning environments...) have been gaining more and more strength since the start of this century thanks to various events, which range from the importance that the web 2.0 has gradually acquired along with the reduction in equipment costs to the strong penetration of mobile devices which have had an undeniable influence on the relocation of technologies. Amongst these emergent technologies stands out the so-called 'augmented reality' (AR), a technology that, as suggested by different reports (Durall, Gros, Maina, Johnson, & Adams, 2012; García, Peña-López, Johnson, Smith, Levine, & Haywood, 2010; Johnson, Becker, Gago, Garcia, & Martín, 2013) is bound to reach a high level of penetration into our educational centers as a whole, including universities, within a 3-to-5-year horizon.

This significance which AR has been progressively gaining becomes visible not only in the aforementioned Horizon reports but also in some other facts such as the following: Time magazine included it amongst the top ten technological trends of 2010, more specifically placing it in fourth place; and the Company Gartner Research, one of the world's leaders as far as Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) research and counseling is concerned, identified it as one of the technologies that would have a stronger impact in the coming years, with a use forecast in 2014 situated around 30% of users owning mobile devices. Another three examples of what was said above are: the Argentinian State educational portal Educar ( published a monograph about this technology in 2013; the journal Computer and Education has recently dedicated a monographic issue to it (issue 68, 2013); and specific sites devoted to it appear in the "content curatorship" of (

Now then, what can be understood as AR and which could be the most significant differences with the so-called 'virtual reality' (VR)?

By way of summary, AR can be described as the real-time combination of digital and physical information through different technological devices; in other words, it consists in utilizing a set of technological devices that add virtual information to the physical one, consequently implying the addition of a virtual synthetic part to what is real (Fundación Telefónica, 2011; García et al., 2010; Muñoz, 2013).

In the words of De la Torre Cantero, Martín-Dorta, Saorín Pérez, Carbonell Carrera, & Contero González (2013, p. 5): "it is a technology that permit users' interaction with the physical and real world around them. AR combines the three dimensions (3D) of computer-generated objects and text superimposed on real images and video, it all in real time."

In short, AR allows the user to see the real world, in which superimposed or compound objects combine with reality (González, Vallejo, Albusac, & Castro, 2013). It is therefore a technology which mixes real elements with other added virtual ones for the purpose of creating a new a communicative scenography.

Di Serio, Ibáñez and Delgado (2013, p. 587) describe AR systems as being characterized by three properties:

- combination of real and virtual objects within a virtual environment;

- mutual alignment between real and virtual objects; and

- interactive implementation in real time.

It can be said that the aim sought with AR consists to some extent in enriching the information which exists in reality with the information available in technological devices. Expressed differently, when it comes to augmented reality, information resides in the real content; and the digital content only augments and completes it. "The concept of AR refers to combining what is not there with what does exist in an imperceptible way and offering users an improved or augmented representation of the world around them" (Mullen, 2012, p. …

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