Augmented reality in early childhood and pre-education
“Where did the fox go?”, Sarah enthusiastically wondered. She stepped over to the other side of the room with the tablet in a firm grasp, followed by the rest of her group. “Ha! It’s there, at the left side on top of the bookshelf!”, Martin exclaimed as he helped her zooming in on the screen. “Let’s place him in our forest with the rest of his friends!”, Sarah concluded.
Many of us recognize the playful and creative minds of young kids in the early education. The imagination they implement in their plays and games has few limits. This mindset is an important skill in the future, and it’s a reason for us adults to encourage fun and creative activities for children where they can have an active part.
This is one of the key aspects on which the Finnish curriculum is built upon. Children's own input and motivation should be integrated in the main frame of teaching. The goals of education and learning are often vast, but do not exclude engagement, playfulness or many varieties of fun. This is why augmented reality works well with children in the early stages of education and why it is implemented in various kinds of teaching. It gives learning a purpose, because the making and all the objects are connected to the real environment.
What is the pedagogic value that augmented reality adds to our teaching? It is a critical question to ponder on when deciding to include AR in everyday classrooms. Having students exposed to new technology cannot be the sole purpose of using technology in class. The 3DBear app is designed to help kids to tap on and express their creativity and imagination. Children can, for example, learn letters and numbers better by connecting them to and viewing them in real surroundings. They can bring their own stories to life, or the other way around, be inspired to tell stories based on virtual characters they add in AR. They can even furnish the whole room or organize a treasure hunt with their friends. Everything, with a deeper purpose of learning.
3D-modelling is considered to be one of the most important future skills. The 3DBear application offers children an easy and user-friendly approach to the first steps of 3D-modelling, expanding their spatial perception and understanding, which further on can be utilized in more advanced modelling software.
Many schools and kindergartens in Finland have recognized the benefits of AR in education and the amount of users is constantly increasing. Augmented reality does not replace other methods of teaching, but can instead be innovatively combined with them. The easiest way to discover this, is simply trying it out. My best tip to all fellow teachers is to grasp the tablet, open the 3DBear app and dive into the world of AR.
Rasmus Borg, Pedagogic Specialist at 3DBear