5 Ways 3D Scanning Personalizes AR Learning Experiences

by stpiercy on Dec 18, 2018

The AR learning experience in classrooms: what is it and what you can do with it?

The ISTE suggests AR (Augmented Reality) is a new path to personalizing learning for students that allows teachers to enrich learning materials for individual student’s goals. But for teachers already committed to creating a flexible environment for all learners, how AR can help might need some explanation. AR, like all new tech, requires an initial push of extra research and effort to implement, but it’s worth the effort.

AR in the classroom

When using Elements4D, by Daqri, students can point the iPad camera at a cube, and it reveals information about an element of the periodic table. https://www.freetech4teachers.com/2014/02/elements4d-exploring-chemistry-with.html

AR places a digital 3D model (or other digital information such as videos, photos, or text) into the video feed of a smartphone or tablet, adding that model to what you see when you look at the screen. The model is placed within the scene of the video feed and behaves as if it were actually in that environment (like sitting on a table, or the floor). Even if the model is just floating in the air, it will stay put when you walk to a different location in the room and point the camera of your device at the same spot.

This augmentation of the real world, seen through the eyes of a device, can be really exciting, especially when the models placed on screen are interactive and allow for the separation or combination of components.

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Method #1: An attention-grabber for otherwise dull text-driven content.

Get kids up out of their seats! Apps like and Layar and Augment allow you to create a ‘target’ on any printed page that will display associated content when scanned with the app. Content can include 3D models, photographs, text, or video. Textbook companies are experimenting with adding AR elements to enrich their materials.

An ‘About Me’ exercise at the beginning of the school year has drawings and facts about each student. Guess who is who, and then check by looking at the photos that pop up in AR when scanned with an iPad.

For Spider Week, this teacher created a spider wall that students could approach with their iPads to check out videos linked to each spider’s picture through AR.

When a spider image is scanned using the Daqri app, a video of that spider in action comes up on the iPad. In the picture below, my student is watching a video that shows how a trapdoor spider comes out of its burrow to trap its prey.



Method #2: The next best thing to conducting an actual experiment is conducting a simulated experiment on your device.

An example from Anatomy4D.

Anatomy 4D is designed to make interactive models of human anatomy pop out of worksheets. Elements 4D lets kids do chemistry experiments digitally using AR. zSpace also has a rich selection of learning apps to explore in K-12 classrooms. Teachers looking to incorporate AR can find apps specifically designed for many core subjects, especially within the sciences.

Method #3: Adding a multimedia angle to homework and getting parents more involved.

This method is an attempt to make homework more interesting and compelling, especially as it sits next to the temptation to watch another YouTube video. With the help of printable AR-enabled worksheets tagged with content like pictures and videos, the doldrums of homework take a hike.

Method #4: Physical movement ‘scavenger’ type explorations of topics or locations.

One of the coolest ideas for AR in education (although perhaps the most work for a teacher to set up) is styled off of geocaching and the Pokemon Go phenomenon. Instead of sitting at their desks to learn about a topic, or while out of the classroom on a field trip, students follow directions or clues to discover AR content tagged to physical locations in the environment. Check out apps like Metaverse and Traces if you’re interested in designing lessons like this.

Method #5: Just plain fun.

The Quiver app has a simple premise and one of the most exciting and fun executions yet for an AR app: after colouring in a printed hand-out, the image on the page comes to life in full 3D when viewed through the app.

What 3D scanning brings to AR learning experiences

A model of a wing scanned with the Matter and Form Desktop 3D Scanner and placed in AR with the Augment app.

In the applications described above, the AR content is largely online media such as photos, video, or 3D models demonstrating subject matter. AR becomes meaningful in a new way when students are given tools to create their own content to experience in augmented reality – to better evaluate the progress of their work, or to share and communicate their findings with others.

To that end, students can take photographs, or create designs in 3D modelling software programs like Tinkercad, which excels in simplifying 3D design to basic shapes and transformations. But 3D scanning puts a jetpack on personalizing AR content, because it means students can take any of the regular classroom building materials – plasticine, cardboard or legos, and create projects they can easily digitize and transform into AR experiences.

Matter and Form and zSpace teamed up at the Western Washington Catholic Schools Technology Conference in Seattle this year. Here’s a quick video of zSpace’s AR/VR system using a 3D scan from the V2 scanner!

3D scanning technology in the classroom opens the door for students to make their own AR content, giving AR experiences more personal creative scope. Objects they own – their art, their prototypes, their modelling, can now augment the digital ‘reality’.

Links to AR apps mentioned in this article:

Also, check out Teachthought.com’s quick summary of all the AR available for educational purposes.