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Colin McMahon

How Augmented Reality is Improving Textbooks and Remote Learning

Examining recent AR case studies surrounding education during the COVID pandemic

Sep 24, 2020 12:22:28 PM


COVID-19 has created an unprecedented year, especially in the realm of education. With many school systems across the United States opting for continued remote studies or hybrid plans to slow the spread of the pandemic, augmented reality (AR) is fast becoming a new tool for teachers and educators to bring the classroom home…literally. When combined with printed textbooks, AR stands ready to transform these platforms into interactive, updateable learning centers.


The Cal Poly Experiment in Print-Based Augmented Reality

According to a recent article from Printing Impressions, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) is pushing the envelope when it comes to print-based AR. In normal years, Cal Poly uses project-based learning and experimentation to ensure that its students are properly grasping concepts and understanding the lessons. During COVID, this has become problematic as it is unsafe for students and faculty to meet in the same space for any reason—let alone hours-long observation and feedback.


Headed by Communication Professor Dr. Xiaoying Rong, Cal Poly now aims to teach its students about graphic communication through an interactive book that is as much an example of the technology as it is an instructional guide to how it works. Powered by Ricoh’s Clickable Paper app,  the book is intended to operate as a complete education full of useable links to video lectures, a course syllabus, and what essentially amounts to a virtual laboratory.


Students using this new kind of textbook have a lot more than printed pages at their disposal.


The Advantages Augmented Reality Brings to Educational Print

The advantages that AR can bring to books, but particularly educational textbooks, are numerous. For example, while the printed words of the text cannot be updated, the augmented portion can. Links can be refreshed to contain more relevant information, effectively extending the book’s longevity and usefulness. Students still confused after reading the lesson can see video examples and 3D images/graphics to better grasp the concept. Simply put, AR turns books—which have previously been static sources of information and knowledge—into interactive dynamic tools that can better serve their readers and deepen the experience.


Print providers should not be worried about a massive investment either. Numerous organizations, such as Ricoh, RealityBLU, and Konica Minolta, are working to make sure AR app development is easy and intuitive. Many print-based AR experiences only need a smartphone, as Keypoint Intelligence’s data shows that at least 87% of users interact with AR content through their mobile devices. Our data also shows us that users expect to encounter relevant product information through their AR usage, as it was the most common content revealed via AR.


Data gathered through Keypoint Intelligence’s 2019 Immersive Imaging Survey


AR and its impact will only be accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Print companies unsure of the new technology should invest in education to better prepare themselves for its adoption. We recently sponsored such an initiative through part of our New Workplace virtual summit. Those interested in accessing our online webinar centered around AR and print may do so through this link. Any with further questions may contact our sales team to pursue further inquiry.