AR for ed
Pearson is switching its focus from virtual to augmented reality. The global learning business has sold its 47% stake in the world’s largest book publisher, Penguin Random House, and is concentrating on digital, and in particular immersive, experiences, says Sally Ratcliffe*.
Access and accessibility are key here, and so first and foremost the company has been looking at how to create device-agnostic content. VR and 360 output has grown rapidly and content works with Google cardboard VR headsets, Android, iOS and web VR. In order to get the widest adoption in the edspace Pearson has also been concentrating on short, two-to-three-minute digital learnings in 360 content.
Yet is the future in VR?
Not according to Mark Christian, global director for immersive learning at Pearson.
“The future is AR because it’s collaborative,” he says. “When you think of students and teachers in the classroom, VR isn’t a good way to get everyone to participate and learn together.
Christian explains that a good portion of 2D representations of 3D objects are not true visualisations. “With AR, a teacher and students can literally walk round an object, for example, and then they get it,” says Christian.
“With AR you can show complex trigonometry problems, for example, and students who haven’t been able to grasp the ideas presented because the representations are not accurate often suddenly get what is being shown to them.”
Last year, Pearson announced a tie-up with Microsoft to explore mixed reality in a number of areas of learning, ranging from online tutoring and coaching, nursing education, and engineering to construction and surveyor training with Microsoft HoloLens, the world’s first self-contained holographic computer. Mixed reality merges the virtual and physical worlds to create a new reality allowing the two to co-exist and interact. Pearson is looking to develop learning content for HoloLens to provide students with real world experiences, allowing them to build proficiency, develop confidence, explore and learn.