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Affordances and Limitations of Immersive Participatory Augmented Reality Simulations for Teaching and Learning


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The purpose of this study was to document how teachers and students describe and comprehend the ways in which participating in an augmented reality (AR) simulation aids or hinders teaching and learning. Like the multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) interface that underlies Internet games, AR is a good medium for immersive collaborative simulation, but has different strengths and limitations than MUVEs. Within a design-based research project, the researchers conducted multiple qualitative case studies across two middle schools (6th and 7th grade) and one high school (10th grade) in the northeastern United States to document the affordances and limitations of AR simulations from the student and teacher perspective. The researchers collected data through formal and informal interviews, direct observations, web site posts, and site documents. Teachers and students reported that the technology-mediated narrative and the interactive, situated, collaborative problem solving affordances of the AR simulation were highly engaging, especially among students who had previously presented behavioral and academic challenges for the teachers. However, while the AR simulation provided potentially transformative added value, it simultaneously presented unique technological, managerial, and cognitive challenges to teaching and learning.
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Affordances and Limitations of Immersive Participatory
Augmented Reality Simulations for Teaching and Learning
Matt Dunleavy ÆChris Dede ÆRebecca Mitchell
Published online: 3 September 2008
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008
Abstract The purpose of this study was to document
how teachers and students describe and comprehend the
ways in which participating in an augmented reality (AR)
simulation aids or hinders teaching and learning. Like the
multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) interface that
underlies Internet games, AR is a good medium for im-
mersive collaborative simulation, but has different
strengths and limitations than MUVEs. Within a design-
based research project, the researchers conducted multiple
qualitative case studies across two middle schools (6th
and 7th grade) and one high school (10th grade) in the
northeastern United States to document the affordances
and limitations of AR simulations from the student and
teacher perspective. The researchers collected data
through formal and informal interviews, direct observa-
tions, web site posts, and site documents. Teachers and
students reported that the technology-mediated narrative
and the interactive, situated, collaborative problem solving
affordances of the AR simulation were highly engaging,
especially among students who had previously presented
behavioral and academic challenges for the teachers.
However, while the AR simulation provided potentially
transformative added value, it simultaneously presented
unique technological, managerial, and cognitive chal-
lenges to teaching and learning.
Keywords Augmented reality Immersive participatory
simulations Classroom technology practices
Handheld devices GPS devices
The last several years have seen an explosion in the
amount of young people playing video games as well as
the number of children and adolescents using mobile
handheld technologies, such as portable music players,
gaming platforms, and smart phones (Roberts et al. 2005;
Squire 2006; Dieterle et al. 2007; Lenhart and Madden
2007). As school systems struggle with how best to deal
with this cultural and technological shift, it is highly likely
that the technology will continue to progress towards more
powerful, GPS-enabled, location-aware, WIFI handheld
computers that can deliver high quality, multimedia,
computer processing power. Viewing this phenomenon as
neither a panacea nor a plague, leading researchers in
educational technology have stressed the need for more
studies that explore if and how these technologies can be
leveraged for enhanced learning (Heinecke et al. 2001;
Means and Haertel 2004).
Three complementary technological interfaces are now
shaping how people learn, with multiple implications for
K-12 education (Dede 2002).
The familiar ‘world- to- the- desktop’ interface
provides access to distributed knowledge and expertise
across space and time through networked media. Sitting
at their laptop or workstation, students can access
distant experts and archives, communicate with peers,
and participate in mentoring relationships and virtual
communities of practice. This interface provides the
M. Dunleavy (&)
Radford University, Radford, VA, USA
C. Dede R. Mitchell
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22
DOI 10.1007/s10956-008-9119-1
models for learning that now underlie most tools,
applications, and media in K-12 education.
Emerging multi-user virtual environment (MUVE)
interfaces offer students an engaging ‘‘Alice in Won-
derland’ experience in which their digital emissaries in
a graphical virtual context actively engage in experi-
ences with the avatars of other participants and with
computerized agents. MUVEs provide rich environ-
ments in which participants interact with digital objects
and tools, such as historical photographs or virtual
microscopes. Moreover, this interface facilitates novel
forms of communication among avatars, using media
such as text chat and virtual gestures. This type of
‘mediated immersion’ (pervasive experiences within a
digitally enhanced context), intermediate in complexity
between the real world and paint-by-numbers exercises
in K-12 classrooms, allows instructional designers to
construct shared simulated experiences otherwise
impossible in school settings. Researchers are exploring
the affordances of such models for learning in K-12
education (Clarke et al. 2006; Barab et al. 2007;
Neulight et al. 2007).
Augmented reality (AR) interfaces enable ‘‘ubiquitous
computing’ models. Students carrying mobile wireless
devices through real world contexts engage with virtual
information superimposed on physical landscapes (such
as a tree describing its botanical characteristics or a
historic photograph offering a contrast with the present
scene). This type of mediated immersion infuses digital
resources throughout the real world, augmenting
students’ experiences and interactions. Researchers
are starting to study how these models for learning
aid students’ engagement and understanding (Klopfer
et al. 2004; Klopfer and Squire in press).
Immersion in virtual environments and augmented
realities shapes participants’ learning styles, strengths, and
preferences in new ways beyond what using sophisticated
computers and telecommunications has generated thus far,
with multiple implications for K-12 education. Dede
(2005) describes learning styles enhanced by mediated
immersion in distributed-learning communities based on
MUVE and AR interfaces as: (a) fluency in multiple
media; (b) learning based on collectively seeking, sieving,
and synthesizing experiences, rather than individually
locating and absorbing information from some single best
source; (c) active learning based on experience (real
and simulated) that includes frequent opportunities for
reflection; (d) expression through non-linear, associational
webs of representations rather than linear ‘‘stories’ (e.g.,
authoring a simulation and a webpage to express
understanding, rather than a paper); and (e) co-design of
learning experiences personalized to individual needs and
If we examine students’ technology use outside of school,
we see these shifts in learning styles happening in their
informal, voluntary educational activities (Clarke et al.
in press). For example, while the gaming model of one player
sitting in front of a console is still prevalent, collaborative,
mediated gameplay is rising. Massively multi-player online
games (MMOG), such as the World of Warcraft (Blizzard
Entertainment) and Everquest (Sony Online Entertainment),
bring players together online where they can interact in a
virtual, immersive, collaborative context. Emerging commu-
nities such as ‘modding,’ in which users create new content
for games (often contributing to a shared database of models),
and ‘machinima,’ in which users create new content via
video capturing techniques, are further shaping how our
nation’s students now express themselves outside of school
via collaborative digital experiences. Using their cell phones,
portable gaming platforms, or personal digital assistants, kids
also infuse virtual resources as they move around in the real
world. For example, they use their cell phones to text their
friends, to take and send pictures across distance, to access
streaming audio and video files—even to make telephone
calls! in their learning processes, many of these distributed
communities among kids parallel the activities of twenty-first
century professionals in knowledge-based workplaces.
In considering immersive participatory simulations for
learning, the MUVE and AR interfaces pose an interesting
contrast. In a MUVE, students are virtually embodied in a
digital world. Everything they encounter is in virtual form,
including fellow students with whom they are collaborat-
ing. Each one of their actions is captured and time-stamped
by the interface: where they go, what they hear and say,
what data they collect or access, etc. In contrast, in an AR
students interact with a mixture of virtual and physical
objects, people, and environments. They can communicate
with teammates face-to-face, rather than the mediated
interaction among avatars characteristic of MUVEs. Some
of their actions are captured, so as where they walk and
what data they collect; other behaviors, such as what they
say to each other, are more difficult to collect. Unique
affordances of MUVEs include the ability to do magic (for
example, to teleport from place to place) and to capture
every aspect of the learning experience for formative and
summative assessment. Unique affordances of AR include
the greater fidelity of real world environments, the ability
of team members to talk face-to-face with its bandwidth on
multiple dimensions, and the capacity to promote kines-
thetic learning through physical movement through richly
sensory spatial contexts.
8 J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22
However, despite the proliferation of sophisticated
technology use outside of schools, typical classrooms sel-
dom leverage the MUVE and AR interfaces described
above for teaching and learning through immersive par-
ticipatory simulation. This article describes early research
into AR that attempts to assess its current strengths and
limits for student engagement and learning in typical
classroom settings. In particular, we research how partici-
pation in an augmented reality game, Alien Contact,
supports teaching and learning at the same time illumi-
nating the unique technological, managerial, and cognitive
Theoretical Foundations for Augmented Reality Use
in Education
Research on how people learn suggests that learning and
cognition are complex social phenomena distributed across
mind, activity, space, and time (Chaiklin and Lave 1993;
Hutchins 1995; Wenger 1998). A student’s engagement
and identity as a learner is shaped by his or her collabo-
rative participation in communities and groups, as well as
the practices and beliefs of these communities. Yet creating
classroom activities that allow students to engage in
authentic practices that involve communities of learning is
challenging, especially when it comes to authentic prac-
tices of science (Chinn and Malhotra 2002). For example,
several investigators (Griffin 1995; Hendricks 2001)
developed curricular activities in an attempt to validate
parts of situated learning theory, but were forced to modify
their research designs due to the difficulty of implementing
situated learning within the constraints of a K-12 class-
room. As an alternative to practices located within a
school, bringing students to a local hospital to work with
epidemiologists and doctors to study an outbreak of
whooping cough might provide an authentic, meaningful,
and motivating context for students to master scientific
content and inquiry skills (Clarke and Dede 2007). Yet, this
is not feasible for a myriad of reasons including prohibitive
cost and managerial challenges. Until recently, researchers
have struggled to conduct research on natural and emergent
learning situated in complex and authentic classroom
practices in K-12 education.
Central to the situated learning theory perspective is
belief that learning is embedded within, determined by, and
inseparable from a particular physical and cultural setting
(Brown et al. 1989; Chaiklin and Lave 1993). The unit of
analysis is neither the individual nor the setting, but the
relationship between the two, as indicated by the student’s
level of participation (Greeno 1998). From this perspective,
learning and cognition are understood both as progress
along trajectories of participation in communities of
practice and as the ongoing transformation of identity
(Wenger 1998). Through participation in schools, students
develop patterns of participation that shape their identities
as learners, including the ways in which they engage in
learning and hold beliefs about their abilities to learn. As a
trajectory, an identity is not an object that one owns once
and for all; it is defined over time, evolves, and has a
momentum of its own. Identity is what gives a flexible
continuity to the various forms of participation in which
one is engaged (Eckert and Wenger 1994, p. 17).
Furthermore, technology-mediated simulations and
games afford opportunities to ‘recruit identities
and encourage identity work and reflectionin clear and
meaningful ways’ (Gee 2003, p. 51). As defined by Gee
(2003), video games have a unique capacity to activate,
recruit, and cultivate a sense of projective identity that
serves as a mediation between the students’ real world
identity and their virtual or game identity. Via gaming
environments, students create and foster simulation or
game identities whose goals and values intersect and
interact with their real-world identities. If students buy-in
and take ownership of these virtual identities, the virtual
identities can then be leveraged to influence and shape the
ongoing transformation of real-world identities (Gee 2003).
The transformational potential of this identity principle is
integral to the AR project described in this paper.
In the first of the two JSET issues on the special theme
of games and immersive participatory simulations, Squire
and Jan (2007) describe AR as:
games played in the real world with the support
of digital devices (PDAs, cellphones) that create a
fictional layer on top of the real world context
Place-based augmented reality games are played in
specific real-world locations (historical, geographical
sites) and use handheld computers with global
positioning systems to augment users’ experience of
space with additional data (text, numerical data,
audio, video). (p. 6)
Similarly, we used handheld computers coupled with
Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to develop out-
door AR simulations. However, instead of a place-
dependent approach, we developed a place-independent
AR simulation, which can be superimposed onto any
physical area. As conducting multiple field trips in school
settings can be problematic, we wanted an AR curriculum
that any teacher could implement immediately outside the
school building in an area such as a school playground,
sports field, or parking lot. Drawing upon a recurring
popular theme in the video game and entertainment
industry, e.g., Halo 3 (Microsoft), Alien vs. Predator, etc.,
our research team developed an AR simulation called Alien
J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22 9
Alien Contact! Simulation Overview
With funding from the U.S. Department of Education and
in collaboration with MIT and the University of Wisconsin
at Madison, we designed Alien Contact! to teach math,
language arts, and scientific literacy skills to middle and
high school students. This narrative-driven, inquiry-based
AR simulation is played on a Dell Axim X51 handheld
computer and uses GPS technology to correlate the stu-
dents’ real world location to their virtual location in the
simulation’s digital world (Fig. 1).
As the students move around a physical location, such as
their school playground or sports fields (Fig. 2), a map on
their handheld displays digital objects and virtual people
who exist in an AR world superimposed on real space
(Fig. 3). When students come within approximately 30 feet
of these digital artifacts, the AR and GPS software triggers
video, audio, and text files, which provide narrative, nav-
igation and collaboration cues as well as academic
In Alien Contact! the students are presented with the
following scenario: Aliens have landed on Earth and seem
to be preparing for a number of alternative actions,
including peaceful contact, invasion, plundering, or simply
returning to their home planet. Working in teams (four
pupils per team), the students must explore the AR world,
interviewing virtual characters, collecting digital items, and
solving math, language arts, and scientific literacy puzzles
to determine why the aliens have landed.
Each team has four roles: Chemist, Cryptologist, Com-
puter Hacker, and FBI Agent. Depending upon his or her
role, each student will see different and incomplete pieces
of evidence. To successfully navigate the AR environment
and solve various puzzles, the students must share infor-
mation and collaborate with their teammates. For example,
when presented with a digital piece of alien spacecraft
debris, each team member receives a different dimension
of the wreckage to measure or a unique clue as to how to
measure it. If the students do not collaborate and jigsaw
their individual pieces of information, they will not be able
to solve the problem and advance to the next stage. As
students explore the physical space and collect digital data,
they will discover evidence supporting alternative possi-
bilities for why the aliens may have landed. For the
purposes of this study, the roles were randomly assigned to
the students regardless of academic strengths and weak-
nesses. However, future implementations may purposefully
use roles and the role-specific content to accommodate,
leverage, remediate or reinforce various skills sets of
individual students.
Alien Contact! is based on Massachusetts state standards
and fosters multiple higher-order thinking skills. In
designing this unit, the research team targeted concepts in
math, language arts, and scientific literacy typically diffi-
cult for middle school students to master. Using the spring
Fig. 1 Dell Axim & GPS receiver
Fig. 2 Students exploring school grounds
Fig. 3 Handheld display of digital objects on school grounds
10 J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22
2005 8th grade Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment
System (MCAS) test as a reference to determine high-need
areas, the researchers focused primarily on aspects of ratio,
proportion, and indirect measurement (Math Standard
6.M.3, 8.M.4, 8.N.3) in combination with how English
vocabulary has been influenced by Latin and Greek lan-
guages (ELA Standard 4.18, 4.21, 4.24). However, other
math and English language arts standards are embedded
within the unit, such as reading graphs (Math 6.P.6, 8.D.2)
as well as group discussions and presentations (ELA 2.4,
3.8, 3.9, 3.11, 3.13).
In addition, the simulation content and structure are
designed to allow for multiple entry points on which
teachers may build in future iterations. The design allows
teachers the flexibility to emphasize: (1) different academic
standards; (2) different content areas (math, English/lan-
guage arts, science, social studies/history); and (3) different
current events (energy crisis, oil shortage, global nuclear
threat, cultural differences). In addition, Alien Contact! is
designed with multiple potential layers of complexity. For
example, during the game the students are asked to solve
mathematical puzzles to get four-digit codes that unlock
virtual buildings containing evidence. The sequence of the
resulting codes represents a Fibonacci sequence, i.e., 1, 1,
2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34.
This design rationale is three-fold: (1) build in
multiple entry points for teachers; (2) build in mathe-
matical and linguistic patterns that, when recognized,
reveal the ubiquity and mystery of mathematics and
language; and (3) build in multiple layers of complexity
that will engage and challenge students regardless of
ability and will provide teachers opportunities for dif-
ferentiation. As the researchers are trying to engage
students in math, language arts, and science, they are
attempting to capitalize on some of the inherent prop-
erties in these fields that are fascinating (e.g., Fibonacci
sequence, golden ratio, ancient languages and cultures)
beyond the particular academic standards targeted.
Additionally, we draw on principles of good pedagogy,
such as the modified jigsaw method discussed above.
The jigsaw method is an integral component of Alien
Contact! andseemsperfectlysuitedfortheaffordances
of AR, which has the capacity to present each student
with distinct and incomplete pieces of data or the game
space. This method overlaps significantly with the areas
of reciprocal teaching, distributed knowledge, and other
socio-cultural approaches to learning (Gee 2003;
Palincsar 1998).
Beyond good pedagogy and building connections to
academic concepts, the units were designed to leverage
principles of high-quality game design. AR and Alien
Contact! in particular incorporate several elements from
popular video games to increase learning and engagement:
(1) narrative and setting; (2) differentiated role-playing; (3)
master goal divided into subtasks; (4) interactivity; (5)
choice; and (6) collaboration (Gee 2003). In Alien Contact!
the narrative and setting is the unfolding saga of the aliens’
interactions with Earth.
The master goal of the curriculum unit is to discover
why the aliens have landed. However, in order to collect
sufficient evidence to form a hypothesis, the students must
successfully complete multiple subtasks requiring math,
language arts, and scientific literacy skills. Throughout the
scenario, the students have rich interactions with virtual
characters, digital items, and each other to navigate the
game space. Choice and collaboration are embedded within
the entire unit. Finally, the entire scenario is open-ended,
with multiple possible explanations for why the aliens have
The purpose of this study was to understand how
middle and high school teachers and students describe
teaching and learning within a participatory AR simu-
lation; hence, a design based approach with an
emphasis on multiple case study design was employed
(Stake 1995; Miles and Huberman 1994;Yin2003).
The research aimed at understanding how teachers and
students made sense of and used AR while participating
in Alien Contact! Three case study sites were chosen
for in-depth examination of this phenomenon. Across
the three case study sites, the researchers sampled a
total of six teachers from the core subject areas of
math, science, and English in order to understand
generally the phenomenon of AR simulations within
varied school contexts and content areas.
As the research progressed, the design was formalized
so that attention was focused on contextual variables
derived from the conceptual framework (see Appendix A)
that influenced the desirability, practicality, and effective-
ness of the AR simulation design (Dede 2005; Stake 1995).
The researchers triangulated the data through the use of
multiple types of data (observations, interviews, docu-
ments), multiple sources (teachers, students), and multiple
researchers. The two primary research questions are:
1. How do students describe and comprehend the ways in
which playing AR simulations aids or hinders their
J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22 11
understanding of math and their development of
literacy skills?
2. How do teachers describe and understand their expe-
rience using AR curricula in their classrooms?
Sites and Participants
The participants in this study were students and teachers in
two middle schools (6th and 7th grade) and one high school
(10th grade) in the northeastern United States. Researchers
identified these schools primarily through convenience
sampling (willingness to participate). Over the course of
the year, the research team collected data from the six
teachers and approximately 80 middle and high school
students. Table 1presents demographic information on the
population from which the sample analyzed for this paper
were drawn.
Data Collection
A team of seven researchers spent approximately
100 hours over the course of a the 2006–2007 academic
year on site at the three schools collecting data (see Table 2
for a summary of the data collection procedures). As can be
inferred from the ratio of researchers to teachers, providing
adequate support to the teachers during the implementation
was critical. The research team had on average of three
people in the class/field to support the teacher and collect
data. This was sufficient to do both well. These high tea-
cher support numbers directly impact the feasibility of
scalability, which will be detailed in the Implications and
Conclusions section. The data sources are formal and
informal interviews, direct observations, site documents,
and web site postings. The researchers conducted obser-
vations with a modified version of the Reformed Teaching
Observation Protocol (RTOP), which was designed to
document teaching practices in practices in science and
mathematics classrooms. One of the rationales for using the
RTOP was the presence of strong training materials as well
as online video resources to increase the inter-rater reli-
ability among multiple observers (Sawada et al. (2002).
The entire research team conducted the online training to
increase inter-rater reliability. Interviews were conducted
with: (1) all six participating teachers; and (2) a sample of
students from each site. The interviews and focus groups
were structured around a set of questions derived from the
conceptual framework and research questions. All inter-
views were videotaped while the researchers took notes on
responses. The researchers systematically observed each
teacher an average of approximately 9 h. The teachers
volunteered to participate in the AR study and were aware
that they would be observed throughout the implementa-
tions. Observations were conducted using an observation
protocol congruent with the conceptual framework and
research questions. Observation notes, field notes, and
video data were compiled for within-case analysis and
cross-case analysis.
Data Analysis
Within-Site Data Analysis
Using Atlas, a qualitative analysis program, the researchers
analyzed the observation field notes and interview tran-
scripts using a structured coding scheme based on the
conceptual framework of the study and an initial round of
open coding (Strauss and Corbin 1998). The first round of
open coding resulted in 30 descriptive codes. These
descriptive codes were used in an iterative process of
within-site pattern-matching analysis, which was progres-
sively more inferential and explanatory with each round of
coding (Miles and Huberman 1994). Using the data
gleaned with this first level coding process, the researchers
analyzed the code reports for the possible linkages between
the effective learning environments theoretical framework
and AR affordances.
Table 1 Demographic Information for School Sites
School name Level Grades served Enrollment District type Percentage poverty
Percentage minority
Jefferson high school High 9–12 424 Urban 72.5 95
Wesley middle school Middle 6–8 551 Urban 29.7 17
Einstein middle school Middle 6–8 972 Urban 81.8 87
Free and reduced lunch percentage
African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Filipino
Table 2 Data collection procedures
Procedure Number Total time (h)
Observations 61 87
Formal interviews 9 9
Informal interviews 20?4
Website postings 50
Total 140?100
12 J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22
Cross-Site Data Analysis
The individual case studies were used for the cross-case
analysis. The focus of the cross-site analysis was on vari-
ous factors identified from the conceptual framework;
hence emphasis was placed on the similarities across the
cases with regards to the phenomenon and factors of
interest (Stake 1995). Variations in the phenomenon of use
and causal explanations of those variations were not the
focus of this study. Returning to the theoretical and orga-
nizational conceptual framework, the authors created a
case ordered cross-site data matrix categorizing the data
accordingly. Pattern-matching analysis, in which each case
served as a comparative context for the other, was used to
determine if there were significant patterns of use that
capitalized on the unique affordances of AR across sites as
well as significant patterns of limitations across sites.
Tactics used for the pattern matching were making com-
parisons and contrasts among cases, as well as counting the
frequency of a use or challenge across cases.
Across case studies, the authors documented high stu-
dent engagement, which the teachers and students
attributed to the unique affordances of the AR simulation.
However, the authors also documented significant teaching
and learning challenges within the AR environment, which
at this point in the research and development cycle makes
large-scale AR implementations prohibitively difficult.
High Student Engagement
The research team documented high student engagement
across the three sites over the course of the year. While
high motivation and engagement seems logical and almost
a given during an activity that has students go outside with
handheld computers and search for clues about aliens, it
was nonetheless a critical threshold that needed to be
reached during this first year of the AR design develop-
ment. Furthermore, in light of the nascent status of AR
research and the use of the design-based research approach,
identifying the specific elements that students and teachers
found most motivating is critical for developing progres-
sively more effective AR curricula.
Students and teachers reported the most motivating
and/or engaging factors of Alien Contact! were:
Using the Handhelds and GPS to Learn
The students most frequently reported that using the
handheld computers and the GPS to navigate and collect
data were highly motivating. The following student
interview and chat room responses are representative of
this finding:
The handheld was cool. We got to learn math and
English not in the classroom but outside with the
handheldsit made it more fun than just in the
classroom writing on the board (Student Interview
Using the handhelds was pretty fun. It was new
nothing (like) we really do in schoolexciting
(Student Interview 11/22/06).
It gave us a chance to go out of school to learn math
and English. Plus you learn teamwork and you get to
learn how to use those cool handhelds (Student Chat
Room Posting 11/19/06).
In addition, observation data revealed students
exchanging handhelds to communicate information and to
solve problems collaboratively. The students would often
exchange machines to look at each other’s problems or
simply show their screens to the team members rather than
telling them what information they had (see Figs. 4,5).
This behavior is indicative of a high level of observable
comfort with new or unfamiliar technology.
Finally, the research team documented two additional
handheld-related behaviors, which while seeming to indi-
cate a high level of engagement with the handheld may
also present teaching and learning challenges unique to
AR. As students navigated through the game space, they
were frequently observed ignoring the physical space
around them to focus exclusively on the data being pre-
sented via the handheld. The research team recorded
multiple examples of students being so engaged in the
game environment that they lost track of their real envi-
ronment. Beyond the obvious safety concerns related to
students ignoring their environment while walking in an
urban setting, this engrossment could actually be counter-
productive if the AR simulation is designed to incorporate
Fig. 4 Students showing each other information on a handheld
J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22 13
the physical space into the learning experience. Further-
more, students often become so engrossed in beaming
information to each other via the infrared function that they
ran out of time to complete the more important activities,
such as finding and analyzing data or sharing and dis-
cussing the data with their teammates.
Collecting Data Outside
Students and teachers also reported that the physical
exploration of the school grounds (i.e., playground, sports
field, neighborhood) was highly motivating.
The following student interview and chat room respon-
ses are representative of this finding:
This project also gave a chance for us to go out of the
school and learn more stuff (Student Chat Room
Posting 11/19/06).
the fact that we got to go outside more than one
day at a timeit was different and fun, mostly in
school we just sit here and do nothing basically
(Student Interview 11/22/06).
In response to the question of what they liked about the
implementations, students often mentioned going outside:
usually we don’t go outside and interact like how
we did (Student interview, 11/22/06).
When we go outside, we use our handhelds to try and
interact with our environment (Student interview, 11/
When probed about why being outside was beneficial,
most students talked about the novelty of being outside and
doing mathematics in a non-typical manner. To students
and teachers both, engaging in mathematical tasks on
evidence found in the field, whether digital or physical,
also felt more authentic, more like the way a real scientist
might use mathematics as a tool to solve a problem. Since
students were engaged in academic subjects outside of the
classroom, it seemed more like real work. Some students
became so immersed in the context of the alien crash, that
they would ask researchers if ‘aliens really crashed’ at
their school or if the researchers were’’ really FBI agents’’.
At the same time, there are some issues that AR
developers might keep in mind regarding gameplay out-
side. The first is that when the weather was too warm or
cold, student engagement dropped significantly, and rain
(although wrapping the machines in sandwich bags worked
well for light rain) often meant staying indoors, hindering
student ability to fully engage with the AR. The second is
that many students have a difficult time orienting them-
selves in the real world based on where they appear on the
handheld. The research team often observed students
looking for characters in the opposite direction from where
they should have been, walking toward the baseball dia-
mond when the character was located further away from
the diamond. Gaining orienteering strategies might be an
unexpected learning outcome from student use of AR
The inherent physical component of AR is not only
motivating but also provides unique opportunities to
create authentic and novel learning environments, which
utilize both real and digital items within an outdoor
physical space. In Alien Contact! students encounter both
digital items via their handhelds and physical artifacts
via the environment that, when combined, require them
to solve mathematics, literacy, and science challenges.
As reported by students and teachers, this experientially
immersive affordance of AR allows students to develop a
strong sense of engagement with the narrative and the
physical space.
Distributed Knowledge, Positive Interdependence
and Roles
During the AR simulations, each student would receive
distinct and incomplete pieces of data that required him
or her to collaborate with team members to successfully
navigate the area and solve the problems. For example,
when students encounter a physical artifact representing
an alien wing, the team members each received a dif-
ferent piece of digital data via the handhelds that helped
them measure the wing and determine its significance
(Figs. 6-9).
The fourth member of the team, Computer Hacker, also
receives information and prompting questions that helps
the team organize their data and discuss their strategy.
As this example shows, the research team created team-
based problem solving challenges in which each student
provided a unique, necessary, and complementary area of
Fig. 5 Students exchanging/sharing handhelds to solve problems
14 J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22
knowledge. This jigsaw pedagogy capitalized on the af-
fordance of handheld AR to provide differentiated
information to each student. The vast majority of students
reported that this interdependent nature of their teams as
one of the most engaging and interesting features of AR:
This project gave us a chance to communicate with
our teammates to solve questions, to work together
(to) solve problems. As long as we work together, we
would get what we expect to get which is a good
thing (Student Chat Room Posting 11/19/06).
The part that I like is that we all had different things
(pieces of information) (Student Interview 11/22/06).
You needed everyone’s help to figure out the code
(Student Interview 4/9/07).
In addition to positive interdependence, students also
reported that the related issue of roles was motivating:
I like the fact that we were all in the same group but
we weren’t the exact same personwe each had
separate roles so we were all one team but we also
had our solo stuff, but we still needed everyone else
in order to have a full picture or idea of what was
going on. It gave you a sense of independence but it
also gave you the (idea) that you have to ask for help
when you need it (Student Interview 11/22/06).
I enjoyed the group activities and the thought of
having to be somebody you’re not like an FBI Agent,
a chemist, a linguist. I enjoyed it a lot (Student
Interview 11/22/06).
I like this project becausein normal projects we
don’t have special roles and now we have roles and
we need each other and that makes us know each
other more and (have) better teamwork (Student
Interview 6/8/07).
When asked about how she thought the roles worked
with the students, a participating teacher responded:
They all took on an identity. They all felt strong
ownership that they were an expert at thisand if
they didn’t have roles they may not have been as
eager to work together because they really did need
each person (Teacher Interview 6/8/07).
Both the students’ and teacher’s quotations capture the
essence of projective identity that can be leveraged within
AR simulations to motivate students and enhance instruc-
tion in a novel and potentially transformative way (Gee
A piece of alien wing debris was found at this
exact spot on the crash site. The FBI took the
wig but left a scale model for you to look at.
Locate the purple triangle on the ground.
This is the scale model, which your team will
now need to measure using an object of your
choice. Unfortunately, you do not have any
rulers with you and you will have to improvise.
Each of you has a different clue to figure out
how best to measure and analyze the wing
dimensions. Good luck!
Fig. 6 Chemist wing information
You have had practice measuring the length of a
footprint with a pencil. Help your teammates find a way
to measure the lengths of the sides of this triangle using
any of the objects you have with you (we suggest
something smaller than a pencil).
When you are done, go see what else can be found at the
crash site.
Fig. 7 Cryptologist wing information
Data on Military Spacecraft
Top Secret
According to CIA data, in a military
spacecraft the ratio of the longest side to the
shortest side makes a fractions that reduces to
In other words, if this debris is from a military
alien wing, it will have a proportion of:
Longest side =5
Shortest side =3
Fig. 8 FBI agent wing information
Fig. 9 Team measuring ‘Alien Wing’
J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22 15
Logistical Limitations
In addition to the high engagement associated with the
affordances of the AR simulation detailed above, significant
challenges unique to AR environments were documented as
well. The challenges fall generally into three categories
listed in order of significance: (1) hardware and software
issues; (2) logistical support and lesson management; and
(3) student cognitive overload.
Hardware and Software Issues
The most significant limitation of the AR simulation
reported by both students and teachers was GPS-error. It is
a safe prediction that much of the error documented in this
study will most likely be eliminated as the technology
evolves. However, currently the GPS error is prohibitively
high for large-scale implementations. GPS failure rates of
15–30% were observed during the study, presenting sig-
nificant challenges. The authors documented two major
sources of the error: (1) software instability; and (2) the
research team incorrectly setting up the handheld config-
urations. Both sources affect scalability and will be
discussed further later. When students were asked what
they did not like about learning using AR, GPS error was
the most frequent response:
The computer problems were really annoying (Stu-
dent Interview 4/9/07).
People were left behind when the computer froze
(Student Interview 4/9/07).
My GPS didn’t work for like 10 minutes and I had to
keep my team back (Student Interview 6/8/07).
Exacerbating the problem is the interdependent team-
based approach, which is facilitated with the AR affor-
dances and integral to Alien Contact! As reflected in the
last two quotations, if one member out of a four-student
team does not trigger a character/item while they are
standing in the same location, problems cascade on mul-
tiple levels: management, engagement, learning, team
cohesiveness, and jigsaw collaboration.
Participating teachers also identified the GPS error issue
as highly problematic. When asked to identify the most
critical component of the program, a participating teacher
Having the GPS workFor me that was the most
frustrating in the whole project when we actually got
out there the most exciting timesto have handfuls
of kids that were just helpless and they couldn’t do
anything and that is such a buzz kill for them that
everyone else is running around and so excited and
they are just sitting thereYou need to get that
figured outif this is a handheld and GPS-driven
project (Teacher Interview 6/8/07).
This pointed statement by the teacher highlights the
greatest challenge for AR developers and researchers. As a
result of the high GPS-error, the research team needed to
provide a significant amount of support and materials
Logistical Support and Management
One of the themes emerging from the data is the high
management overhead that accompanies an AR simulation
implementation. The observation and interview data
clearly reflect the reality that one or two teachers could not
implement this AR unit as it is currently designed. In
addition to maintaining the GPS signal during implemen-
tations, the support team also: (1) distributed and collected
all hardware; (2) tried to keep groups together; (3)
answered content and handheld interface questions (4)
provided alternative handhelds to students whose machines
had crashed (average 2 out of 15 per class); and (5) cor-
ralled the students out of the street. While some of these
issues cannot be completely eliminated (1, 5), some will
decrease in severity with improved design (3) and more
sophisticated hardware and software (4). When asked how
well they could implement an AR unit on their own, the
teachers stressed the need for additional support:
From the teacher perspective, I think it was very
overwhelming for me (Teacher Interview 11/22/06).
Getting the kids out there, handing out the handhelds,
getting all the glitches figured out, doing the activity,
recollecting the handhelds, and getting them back
into the building absolutely limits what you can do
(Teacher Interview 6/8/07).
If you guys (researchers) weren’t jumping in and
assistingthis would have flopped. There were too
many glitches still that ifit was sink or swim for
us, we would have sunk (Teacher Interview 6/8/07).
As a result of the high management requirements, pro-
viding adequate support to the teachers during the
implementation was crucial. On average, three support
personnel were present in every class or field implemen-
tation to support. The researchers documented that a
minimum of two and an optimal number of three people on
site were necessary to support the implementation and
collect data. If research tasks such as data collection were
removed, approximately two people in addition to the
classroom teacher would be sufficient to manage the hard-
ware and maintain the GPS signal through the
16 J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22
implementation. This is a prohibitively high level of
logistical support for scalable use.
Student Cognitive Overload
Students reported feeling frequently overwhelmed and
confused with the amount of material and complexity of
tasks they were asked to process during the simulation.
When asked about this phenomenon, students and teachers
highlighted some of the major problem areas:
some of the codes were confusingso we just like
gave up (Student Interview 11/14/06).
A few of them said that they were clueless the entire
time. It was too tough to try to learn the technology
while also solving problems at the same time (Tea-
cher Interview 4/13/07).
synthesizing is a difficult skill for 6th graders and
this program requires a significant amount of con-
sensus and synthesis (Teacher Interview 6/8/07).
As mentioned in the quotations above, students were
exposed to and required to quickly apply multiple complex
skills: geo-spatial navigation, collaborative problem solv-
ing, handheld manipulation, as well as the mathematics and
literacy problems presented within the narrative. While it
could be asserted that in isolation any of these skills would
be easily accomplished, the synthesis of all these skills was
Unanticipated Emerging Themes
The researchers documented strong group identity and
competition developing around most, but not all of the
teams. Video data documented students whispering among
their teammates when students from other teams approa-
ched, to avoid sharing information. A strong example of
this was documented when the case study group was
measuring the alien wing model (see Fig. 9earlier). Other
students accused the team of ‘hogging’ the wing, and the
team accused another student of cheating as he tried to
learn the information the team had uncovered as a result of
measuring the wing (see Fig. 10). When another student
from a different site was asked about helping other teams,
he responded: ‘We are not helping anybody, we want to
win’ (Observation Field Note 4/9/07).
Directly related to competition, students were also
observed racing through the simulation in an attempt to
‘beat’ the other teams (Fig. 11). According to students and
teachers, this rushing/racing phenomenon seems to be a
result of three factors: (1) unforeseen competitive nature
developing between teams (as discussed above), which led
to a ‘race through it’ mentality; (2) too many characters
and items on each day, which forced the students to rush
through in order to complete that days’ activities; and (3)
the proximity of the teams and small simulation space led
students to try to get answers from other teams by over
hearing or looking over shoulders. Having two teams
walking side-by-side and encountering the same data
seems to naturally lead them to feel like it is a race to see
who can solve the problems first.
Fig. 10 Competition between teams: the female student with the
clipboard is blocking another team’s member who was trying to see
their answers
Fig. 11 Rushing/racing: the students are rushing to catch up with
other teams who were further ahead in the scenario. This behavior led
to skipping important text-based information
J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22 17
Challenges of Working in a Hybrid Learning Environment
The researchers encountered several challenges unique to
this particular area of research, which involves using both
digital and real artifacts to create a learning environment.
The most obvious challenges resulted from using hard-
ware that was not designed for outdoor use. For examples,
while the handheld screen resolution, clarity, and contrast
are excellent indoors, the information on the screen was
often difficult to read on bright, sunny days due to the
glare. A related challenge is the difficulty students
encountered trying to listen to critical information while
outside in a relatively noisy environment. The handheld
speakers are adequate for indoor listening, but the audio
tends to wash out and become difficult to hear in large
open areas with ambient street and pedestrian noise. As a
result, students were observed holding the handheld to
their ear even when presented with video in order to hear
the information. Obviously this defeats the purpose of
presenting visual information, as the students cannot see
the screen while holding the speaker to their ears. An
inexpensive and effective solution for the audio is the use
of headphones and antiglare screens work with varying
degrees of success.
Finally, as discussed previously, the research team
recorded multiple examples of students being so engaged
in the handheld game environment that they lost track of
their real environment. While this seems to be a positive
indicator of high students engagement, students ignoring
the physical space around them to focus exclusively on the
handheld while walking in any environment represents a
real threat to physical safety. During implementations in
urban environments, researchers had to repeatedly remind
students to get out of the street and move to the sidewalk.
Furthermore, while this engrossment seems to be indicative
of high engagement it is counterproductive to initially
developing a strong sense of engagement with the physical
space and then subsequently leveraging the space as part of
the learning context.
Previously Disengaged Students
One of the more intriguing findings from this study is the
documented engagement and motivation of students who
had previously been disengaged and disinterested in
school. Across sites, teachers reported a significant differ-
ence in the behavior and engagement of students during the
AR implementation as compared to their normal classroom
I saw a lot of the kidsthe lower end ones who are
sort of turned off of class at this point in the
yearthose kids were some of the most engaged
(Teacher Interview 6/8/07).
Most of the time in my classes, they can do the work,
but they tend to get off track so easily. They love to
chit chat and talk, but throughout this entire week and
a half, they were focused, they were really engaged,
they really wanted to figure out what the problem
wasI think that group stands out to me as one of the
strongest changes from how they used to work
together before (Teacher Interview 11/20/06).
Some of the kids who are on IEPsI did notice the
kids with ADD, there are a couple kids that will not
sit in class at all and they were 100% engaged
(Teacher Interview 6/8/07).
One of the greatest challenges for classroom teachers is
trying to engage students who are unmotivated in con-
ventional classrooms. The finding that these students are
highly engaged during an AR unit is significant and
As mentioned in the introduction, the students we work
with are already using their cell phones seamlessly to
communicate and share information with their peers
throughout the day. The findings from this study
emphasize how engaged students become simply by
using similar tools to learn. While this use will continue
to be a motivating factor regardless of content due to the
inherent novelty effect, we can safely predict that this
novelty engagement will fade as the students become
accustomed to this method of learning. Therefore, iden-
tifying curricular-specific and technology-specific
characteristics that the students found engaging or dis-
engaging is critical for future development of AR
curricula. It is reasonable to assert that the high level of
engagement documented in this study can be maintained
if the tools are coupled with sound pedagogy to teach
meaningful skills.
The use of positive interdependent AR provides unique
socio-cultural opportunities and challenges. One of the
most obvious themes emerging from the findings is how
dependent this iteration of AR is on student collaboration.
As detailed above, the use of roles and the positive inter-
dependence are integral components of Alien Contact! and
are well suited for the affordances of AR, which has the
capacity to present each student with distinct and incom-
plete pieces of data (Klopfer and Squire in press).
Furthermore, the students reported that roles and the
interdependent nature of their teams were engaging and
18 J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22
interesting features. However, challenges derive from the
fact that, if the students are not accustomed to this type
of learning, it is difficult to successfully implement an
interdependent AR unit without significant modeling,
facilitating, and scaffolding of this skill. Working in groups
is a skill set that must be fostered for it to effectively
translate into desired behaviors such as reciprocal teaching,
collaborative problem solving, or other social constructiv-
ist-based behaviors (Palincsar 1998).
Researchers also need to explore if designing an inter-
dependent AR game that is not completely dependent upon
each team member being present is a possibility. As is, if
one of the roles is absent, it severely restricts if not disables
the game. As a result of inevitable absences and scheduling
conflicts, we created a couple of larger student groups,
which in turn created redundant roles, (e.g., two chemists
in the same team). We documented less collaborative
activity in the larger groups, as some students simply relied
on one or two of the seven members to do the majority of
the work. Sometimes redundant roles worked together, but
more often than not, the redundant roles resulted in one of
the students being ignored since his or her information was
not unique and, therefore, unnecessary. As a result, the
student who was most successful in solving the problem
was able to actively participate, while the less successful
student was ignored. The use of roles and positive inter-
dependence intersect significantly with the areas of
reciprocal teaching, distributed knowledge, and other
socio-cultural approaches to learning, but future AR
implementations will have to determine how best to
leverage these affordances.
In addition, the student competitiveness documented in
this study may be a positive indication of engagement, but
it also results in students rushing and skipping over critical
text-based information. Future AR implementers can
address this rushing tendency in several ways: (i) decrease
the number of activities the students accomplish in one
period; (ii) build in more opportunities for deep discussion
and collaboration, which would slow the students down in
their quest; (iii) create a less linear path so the students do
not follow the same path as their classmates; and (iv) if
space allows, expand the game space so that more physical
space was possible between each team.
While the associated challenges detailed above need to
be addressed in future AR implementations, the opportu-
nity to leverage AR affordances to create rich collaborative
inquiry via technology-mediated narrative holds great
potential. For example, while the physical space and
resulting physicality present unique challenges, they also
provide unique opportunities. One of the more interesting
areas for future research is to determine how best to
leverage the hybrid environment of real and digital arti-
facts. As seen in this study, the use of a simple prop such as
a model ‘wing’ (Figs. 4,7), allowed for multiple teaching
and learning opportunities that would otherwise be
impossible. In addition, the use of the physical environ-
ment, even in a place-independent model, needs to be
further explored. The use of generic physical items that can
be found on any school playground, i.e., trees, fire
hydrants, trash cans, etc., opens up multiple opportunities
to enrich the narrative and subsequently the problems
solving tasks required of the students.
Further, the physical activity inherent within AR
implementations affords the students physiological exer-
cise embedded within cognitive tasks such as problem
solving. The relatively recent development of ‘exergaming’
or ‘exertainment’ products such as Dance Dance Revolu-
tion (Konami) signal a growing interest in combining
children’s interest in gaming with physical activity. In part,
this interest is in response to an ever-increasing obesity
problem among youth, both in America and abroad. As
evidenced by a research report from the FutureLab in the
United Kingdom, the obesity crisis and how education
might address it is not an American phenomenon: ‘‘Given
recent debates on children’s obesity levels, there is also an
increasingly urgent need to understand how we can com-
bine physical activity as part of the learning process’’
(Facer 2004, p. 42). As the students reported in this
research project, the physical exploration of the school
grounds, i.e., playground, sports field, neighborhood, was
highly motivating and it is reasonable to assume that AR
and other mobile learning technologies could be leveraged
to address this growing health crisis.
Finally, AR as an interactive medium enables a peda-
gogy in which knowledge is grounded in a setting and
distributed across a community, rather than isolated within
individuals. Contrary to conventional K-12 instruction,
where knowledge is decontextualized and explicit, in AR
the learning is situated and tacit. This parallels the nature of
twenty-first century work, in which problem finding (the
front-end of the inquiry process: making observations and
inferences, developing hypotheses, and conducting exper-
iments to test alternative interpretations of the situation) is
crucial to reaching a point where the work team can do
problem solving. Workers’ individual and collective
metacognitive strategies for making meaning out of com-
plexity (such as making judgments about the value of
alternative problem formulations) are vital.
Implications and Conclusion
The importance of the research detailed in this paper is
not the technology itself, but rather what added value the
technology brings to the learning environment. AR holds
great promise for enhancing student learning, but we are
J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22 19
only beginning to understand effective instructional
designs for this emerging technology. At this early stage
of AR research, its most significant affordance is the
unique ability to create immersive hybrid learning envi-
ronments that combine digital and physical objects,
thereby facilitating the development of process skills such
as critical thinking, problem solving, and communicating
utilized through interdependent collaborative exercises.
As detailed above, the preliminary findings from the
resulting digital/physical hybrid environment is promising
and we need to further explore how best to leverage this
A related affordance unique to AR is the ability to blend
a fictional narrative such as the arrival of aliens with the
real and familiar physical environment such as a school
playground. The ability to superimpose digital characters
onto any physical space allows educators to continually
repurpose their school grounds with multiple immersive
narratives to meet various teaching objectives across the
curriculum. Via immersive AR, the once familiar play-
ground can become an alien landing pad, a whale stranding
site, a chemical spill disaster area, the solar system, or any
other narrative that provides the desired context to reach
the instructional goals.
The most significant limitations result from the nascent
stage of the software development and the inherent peda-
gogical and managerial complexity of an AR imple-
mentation. As we look toward scalability of AR curricula,
the challenges of managing and debugging the technology
equipment are significant. The equipment is also cost pro-
hibitive for many schools. However, the wireless computers
which we use for Alien Contact! allow for a wide range of
learning activities, including the use of multimedia, data
gathering/analysis, and connectivity with other users (Diet-
erle and Dede 2006; Gado et al. 2006; Swan et al. 2005), so
schools could easily justify purchasing a class set for a
variety of uses.
In the near future, the most likely platform for this
instructional model will shift to GPS-enabled cell phones.
While student cell phone use is currently discouraged in
schools, it is highly likely that soon students will be
encouraged to bring cell phones to school, enabling these
powerful tools to be leveraged to deliver instruction using
AR. One can easily imagine a teacher asking her students
to take out their GPS-enabled, iPhone-like device as a
shared technological infrastructure for engaging and
effective learning. Incorporating an instructional model
that leverages devices students already own and use for
extra-curricular activities not only reduces the amount of
hardware and networking investment required from
perpetually under-funded education budgets, but also flat-
tens the learning curve necessary for students to develop
fluency with this educational tool.
Another issue regarding scalability is preparing teach-
ers to utilize augmented reality and the different
pedagogical strategies it requires (Van t Hooft et al.
2007). For example, after introducing handheld devices to
teachers in graduate level courses, Dieterle and Dede
(2006) describe a teacher who expressed fears about not
being able to see what the students were up to on their
handhelds, assuming they would be off-task. Our pilot
data supports these findings in that teachers who rely on a
lecture-practice style of instruction are uncomfortable
relinquishing control of the learning to their students.
Some of these teachers led their students step-by-step
through tasks in a way that diminished their cognitive
value. In fact, it is widely recognized in mathematics
education research that not only do teachers adapt cur-
ricular materials, but they often do so in a way that
converts high-level, open-ended problems into more tra-
ditional, simple, procedural exercises (Albert Shanker
Institute 2005; Ball and Cohen 1996; Cohen 2001; Stein
et al. 2007), despite the intentions of the curriculum
developers. Many factors related to both the teacher and
curriculum are thought to affect the ways in which
teachers interpret and implement curricula (Remillard
2005)—such as teacher knowledge and beliefs about
mathematics, teaching, and students and the ways in
which the curriculum represents concepts and tasks
(Brown 2002)—and these issues of interpretation and
implementation are certainly not limited to mathematics
education. AR designers must take these issues into
account in developing instructional materials based on
this technology.
In this article, we have begun to address some of the
issues of augmented reality curricula facing teachers,
something that is not usually addressed in the literature.
This is surprising given Clark’s (1983) assertion that it is
the teaching that explains most of the difference in student
learning gains on studies that compare technology-based
versus control curriculum, rather than the media by which
instruction is delivered. In the coming year, we will be
looking closely at teachers’ implementation of Alien
Contact! namely how teachers adapt the curriculum and
what factors affect the kinds of adaptations that are made.
We hope to learn more about the pedagogical demands this
augmented reality curriculum places upon teachers, so as to
develop effective materials and professional development
to expand students’ learning via this promising instruc-
tional medium.
20 J Sci Educ Technol (2009) 18:7–22
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... Los resultados no mostraron diferencias significativas en la carga cognitiva. Sin embargo, como lo evidencia los resultados contradictorios de los estudios de Dunleavy (Dunleavy et al., 2009), Bujak (Bujak et al., 2013) y Lai (Lai et al., 2019), no existe consenso sobre el costo cognitivo del cambio de contexto cuando se usa RA y dispositivos HMD en el aprendizaje (Buchner et al., 2021). Estos resultados pudrían presentarse dado que no se distingue entre el tipo de carga cognitiva, ya que son pocos los estudios que han analizado de forma separada los tipos de carga cognitiva en aplicaciones de RA (Buchner et al., 2021). ...
... En estudios similares, donde se evaluó la carga cognitiva unidimensionalmente, como el de Eiberger (Eiberger et al., 2019) se encontró un alto nivel de carga cognitiva evaluado con el Cuestionario Nasa TLX. De igual forma en Dunleavy (Dunleavy et al., 2009) se evidencio un incremento en la carga cognitiva. Igualmente, Mark (2008), afirma que hubo un efecto mayor en la carga cognitiva bajo condiciones de cambio de contexto (p>0,03) en comparación con la condición sin cambio de contexto. ...
... The results did not show significant differences in cognitive load. However, as evinced by the contradictory findings in studies by Dunleavy (Dunleavy et al., 2009), Bujak (Bujak et al., 2013), and Lai (Lai et al., 2019), there is no consensus regarding the cognitive cost of context switching when using AR and HMD devices in learning (Buchner et al., 2021). These results could be attributed to the lack of differentiation between types of cognitive load, as there are few studies that have separately analyzed the types of cognitive load in AR applications (Buchner et al., 2021). ...
La Realidad Aumentada es usada en el aprendizaje procedimental por su capacidad de mostrar información registrada en el espacio. Sin embargo, algunos autores argumentan que podría incrementar el esfuerzo mental de los usuarios, al requerir cambios continuos en el enfoque de atención entre el contenido real y el contenido virtual. El objetivo es conocer la presencia de carga cognitiva y esfuerzo mental, cuando se presentan cambios de contexto en el uso de realidad aumentada en tareas de aprendizaje procedimental, especialmente en el espacio peri-personal del participante. Se ejecutó un experimento para evaluar la carga cognitiva subjetiva y el esfuerzo mental, durante actividades de aprendizaje procedimental de anatomía de superficie de la rodilla humana. Se combinaron medidas subjetivas basadas en auto-reportes, y medidas objetivas, basadas en pupilometría y rastreo ocular. Se evaluó la actividad de aprendizaje en treinta y cuatro participantes sin experiencia en la actividad. Los resultados generales mostraron que la medida de Carga Cognitiva Subjetiva y las medidas de rastreo ocular, evidencian diferencias significativas entre los tratamientos. Sin embargo, la medida de pupilometría no mostró diferencias.
... According to Estriegana et al. (2019), a diverse set of ICT tools, including virtual labs, simulations, multimedia lectures, online cooperative platforms, and educational games, have been comprehensively examined. By utilizing these instruments, students benefit from immersive and investigative learning experiences, which enable them to study scientific phenomena in a secure and observable environment (Dunleavy et al., 2009). ...
Using information and communication technologies (ICTs) in science education is presented in this article along with a comprehensive bibliometric analysis. Relevant articles are extracted using specific keywords related to ICT and science education from data in the Scopus Database. Data is then analyzed using various bibliometric markers such as publication citation and collaboration patterns. In this study you will find things like publication types, author keywords, author geography and journals. The bibliometric analysis aims to uncover the publishing pattern and trends at the intersection of science education and ICT. The results of this study show the growth of ICT-related research and innovation in science education during the previous ten years. The bibliometric examination uncovers a huge expansion in the quantity of distributions, showing a developing interest around here. In general, this article enhances our comprehension of the current state of ICT innovation and use in science education. The results can make it simpler for educators, researchers, and policymakers to grasp current trends and priority areas, making it simpler to develop effective ICT integration strategies for science education. Future research areas and their consequences for practice are also highlighted.
... From the literature it can be observed that researchers have attempted to find solutions to issues AR and enhance the performance [8][9][10][11][12][13]. There is still a lot of scope for improvement in the techniques proposed. ...
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The digitization of everyday life has led to an exponential increase of data volume. As a result of this, new challenges and requirements have raised. Education domain is also experiencing this. In an effort to continuously improve the learning experience, the education field has come across several technologies. Augmented Reality (AR) is one such technology that is receiving increasing focus. Parallelly, machine learning is empowering several fields in recent days. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning which is inspired by structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks. Technologies never develop in isolation and they go hand in hand. Same has been happened with respect to augmented reality and deep learning. When these two technologies meet, the outcome is excellent. AR and deep learning is a dynamic combo that provides solution for several pressing issues that education field face. It has been predicted that smart phones penetration will exceed 90% by 2023. It is certain that majority part of the learning will be through these smart devices. To revolutionize the learning experience, AR and deep learning have to be integrated together. The potential of AR usage in education is still not fully explored. One of the main advantages of AR technology is its ability to be utilized in conjunction with other innovative technologies and exploit their individual potentials and properties. It can be seen from literature that there are limited studies that investigate benefits of AR in education. The AR effectiveness in education is dependent on how it is designed, implemented and integrated in formal and informal learning environments. In this work, a model has been suggested that uses deep learning and augmented reality to achieve enhanced learning experience.
... In the traditional teaching model, learners obtain knowledge passively in the classroom, so it is difficult to experience real situations. Virtual reality allows learners to manipulate objects as they would in the real world, which is a more effective way to attain knowledge and develop concepts through active participation and interactive exploration [22]. ...
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Quantum mechanics is a physical theory that describes the behavior of microscopic matter. According to quantum theory, a microscopic particle may be described as either a particle or a wave, called wave–particle duality. Many students in high school or college (BC level) find it difficult to imagine that microscopic particles have both particle and wave properties. This is mainly caused by the scale of the world they see since quantum mechanics deals with things that are too small, while the wave and particle phenomena at the microscopic scale are difficult to understand, measure, or verify in the real world. In this study, virtual reality technology was used to develop teaching modules on quantum mechanics, allowing learners to see the particles and wave phenomena of electrons and photons in the microscopic world through interactive operation in virtual experiments. A teaching experiment was conducted by recruiting 60 high school students as research subjects. The control group (30 students) used physics textbooks, and the experimental group (30 students) used the virtual teaching modules for learning quantum mechanics. The analysis results show that the experimental group’s learning effectiveness is higher than the control group. The questionnaire results show that students were satisfied with the learning experience using virtual teaching modules with high learning motivation and low cognitive load because virtual reality can visualize the abstract concepts of wave–particle duality and help them understand quantum mechanics.
... The findings suggest that AR has the potential to positively influence students' perceptions and attitudes, even those who may initially show less interest in science and technology. Additional research indicates that disengaged middle and high school students experienced increased engagement and motivation when mobile AR simulation was integrated into their learning process [40]. Similarly, elementary students reported greater attention, self-confidence, and satisfaction when using AR concept map applications compared to AR alone [41]. ...
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Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are poised to revolutionize education by offering immersive and interactive learning experiences. This research comprehensively evaluates the educational applications of AR and VR, specifically emphasizing their impact on student motivation, learning outcomes, engagement, and overall learning experiences. The analysis explores how AR and VR can improve student learning, knowledge retention, and skill acquisition by systematically reviewing existing the literature from diverse educational domains, including K-12 education, higher education, STEM education, professional training, and lifelong learning. Additionally, the research investigates the pivotal role of AR and VR in fostering immersive and interactive learning environments, unveiling how these technologies promote active learning, collaboration, and critical thinking through simulations and interactive experiences. The evaluation considers the potential of AR and VR beyond traditional classroom settings in distance education and assesses the feasibility of virtual classrooms, web-based learning environments, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). A significant aspect of the study involves understanding student attitudes toward AR and VR technologies and their influence on intrinsic motivation, interest, and enthusiasm for the learning material. Based on a thorough analysis of relevant literature, the research aims to provide practical recommendations for educators to effectively incorporate AR and VR into education practices. The recommendations prioritize a pedagogically sound design, educator training, and accessibility consideration to ensure equitable access for all learners. In summary, this extensive research reveals the significant impact of AR and VR on education by understanding the strengths, limitations, and challenges of making informed decisions on utilizing these technologies to create engaging, impactful learning experiences, fostering a generation of technologically proficient and knowledge-driven learners.
Mental rotation is the ability to mentally rotate two‐dimensional and three‐dimensional objects in one's mind. Previous studies have examined the relationship between mental rotation abilities and embodied cognition. However, conflicting findings underscore the necessity for further investigation. This study aims to investigate how different levels of embodiment in mental rotation training affect mental rotation training. Three versions of mental rotation training with different levels of embodiment (keyboard, touchpad and augmented reality) were developed for this study. A quasi‐experimental study was conducted with a total of 125 university students to explore how different training versions affect participants' training performances, perception of the usability of the training and mental rotation ability. The results suggest those who used the versions with higher levels of bodily engagement performed better than those who used the versions with lower levels of bodily engagement ( p < 0.001). Participants' mental rotation ability also improved significantly after training with the augmented reality (AR ¹ ) version compared to those in the keyboard group ( p = 0.01). The learning analytics results provide additional clarity by indicating that the participants' mental rotation ability can be predicted by their training performance in the AR condition ( p < 0.001). This study has significant implications for the potential of using embodied AR training to improve mental rotation ability. Practitioner notes What is already known about this topic Mental rotation ability is a malleable trait that can be improved through repeated and long‐term game‐based training. Short‐term training using digital games has limited impacts on mental rotation ability. Mental rotation abilities are linked to our bodily interactions with the physical world. What this paper adds Investigates how different levels of bodily engagement in a digital game affect short‐term mental rotation training. Investigates how different levels of bodily engagement in a mental rotation training game affect players' game performance and perception of the usability of the game. Investigates if players' performance in a mental rotation training game can predict their mental rotation ability and self‐diagnosed sense of direction. Leverages learning analytics to explain findings generated by traditional research methods. Implications for practice and/or policy Leveraging augmented reality technology in more embodied mental rotation training games can facilitate short‐term gains in mental rotation. Game‐based learning researchers should consider leveraging learning analytics techniques to provide richer and more nuanced explanations for findings generated by traditional research methods. Game performance in effective mental rotation training games can predict mental rotation abilities, thus potentially assessing such abilities.
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Augmented reality can provide an interactive learning environment. This leads to an exploration of new possibilities in the educational domain. In this work, a systematic literature review of AR applications developed for preschool and primary education is presented. To conduct this review, the Google Scholar database was used. The articles were screened using a set of five inclusion-exclusion criteria for suitability. In total, seventy-one articles published between 2012 to 2021 were selected. Of those, forty-five are conference papers, one is a book chapter, and the remaining twenty-five are journals. These works were analyzed by nine research questions proposed by us. We identified enjoyment, engagement, and learning gains as the key achievements of AR-based applications. Besides this, improvement in motivation, learning interest, participation, understanding, and self-learning are also found important in our review. Although, there are challenges—usability issues, technical problems, acceptance, cognitive overload, and health issues; however, due to their numerous benefits, AR-based applications may be another mode of teaching-learning method in the near future.
Conference Paper
Augmented Reality (AR) is an emerging technology with measurable benefits for students and teachers. However, it is sometimes difficult to use, especially for young-aged users, which may negatively affect learning experience. Many researchers agree that to achieve the technology's unique benefits, AR designs should take into consideration students’ abilities and limitations that derive from their physical and cognitive development. In the case of primary school students (aged 6-12), the need for appropriately designed AR experiences is higher, as children's abilities are still developing at this period of their lives. The present research aims to understand how children's level of motor and spatial abilities relate to the use of certain interaction types of mobile AR. Students’ cognitive scores will be correlated with usability metrics and performance data, while using four different interaction types in a specially designed mobile AR game application. The results may lead to the formation of a set of guidelines for designing usable mobile AR applications that comply with primary students’ cognitive development.
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This preliminary study employed mixed methodologies to explore students' use of mobile comput - ing devices and its effects on their motivation to learn, engagement in learning activities, and support for learning processes. Data collected from students in four elementary and two seventh grade science classes in Northeast Ohio included usage logs, student work samples, student and teacher interviews, and classroom observations. Findings highlight the personalization of learning afforded by such devices both in terms of individuals and individual classroom cultures, as well as their usefulness in extending learning beyond the classroom. They also sug - gest that increased motivation due to mobile device use leads to increases in the quality and quantity of student work. (Keywords: mobile computing, motivation, writing.)
The situative perspective shifts the focus of analysis from individual behavior and cognition to larger systems that include behaving cognitive agents interacting with each other and with other subsystems in the environment. The first section presents a version of the situative perspective that draws on studies of social interaction, philosophical situation theory, and ecological psychology. Framing assumptions and concepts are proposed for a synthesis of the situative and cognitive theoretical perspectives, and a further situative synthesis is suggested that would draw on dynamic-systems theory. The second section discusses relations between the situative, cognitive, and behaviorist theoretical perspectives and principles of educational practice. The third section discusses an approach to research and social practice called interactive research and design, which fits with the situative perspective and provides a productive, albeit syncretic, combination of theory-oriented and instrumental functions of research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The importance of semantics has been recognized in different areas of data and information management, including better access, exchange, interoperability, integration, and analysis of data. Semantics of data is about associating meaning to data, understanding what data represents, and improving the value of data. Ubiquitous and Pervasive Knowledge and Learning Management: Semantics, Social Networking and New Media to Their Full Potential presents an alternative view to ubiquitous and pervasive knowledge, architectural frameworks, and methodological issues, and introduces some of the major techniques and tools developed in the domain of ontology building, analysis, and semantic Web.Ubiquitous and Pervasive Knowledge and Learning Management: Semantics, Social Networking and New Media to Their Full Potential contributes to the revolutionary domain of semantic Web and information systems in the following aspects: vision, methodologies, tools, and applications.
Prologue Part I. Practice: Introduction I 1. Meaning 2. Community 3. Learning 4. Boundary 5. Locality Coda I. Knowing in practice Part II. Identity: Introduction II 6. Identity in practice 7. Participation and non-participation 8. Modes of belonging 9. Identification and negotiability Coda II. Learning communities Conclusion: Introduction III 10. Learning architectures 11. Organizations 12. Education Epilogue.
Interactive immersive entertainment, or videogame playing, has emerged as a major entertainment and educational medium. As research and development initiatives proliferate, educational researchers might benefit by developing more grounded theories about them. This article argues for framing game play as a designed experience. Players’ understandings are developed through cycles of performance within the gameworlds, which instantiate particular theories of the world (ideological worlds). Players develop new identities both through game play and through the gaming communities in which these identities are enacted. Thus research that examines game-based learning needs to account for both kinds of interactions within the game-world and in broader social contexts. Examples from curriculum developed for Civilization III and Supercharged! show how games can communicate powerful ideas and open new identity trajectories for learners.