Augmented Reality (AR) is the latest thing in tablet fun. While not all AR apps are educational in nature, this technology is already being used to enhance learning thanks to some creative educational app developers. In the future, we look forward to this technology changing the way we learn and see the world.

An Overview

If you aren’t familiar with Augmented Reality, a good overview is the video below from Common Craft Media:

Some AR Apps to Start With

In education, AR can be used with both smart phones and tablets to view real objects and printables to get more information. Here are just a few of our favorites with a short description for how they work:


Word Lens

WordLensLogo5Feb2012Word lens is an app that allows the user to automatically translate foreign language signs. Just point your phone or tablet at the sign and you will see the sign as if it were written in English. You can watch a demo video here. Word Lens is available for iOS devices.


QuiverVision 3D (Formerly ColAR Mix)

colARMix-icon-1024x1024ColAR Mix is an app that brings coloring pages to life. Users download coloring pages from the QuiverVision 3D (Formerly ColAR Mix), then they color the pages. Then they simply point their device at the page, and the image comes to life with the colors that the user used! You can watch a demo video here. ColAR Mix is available for both iOS devices and Android devices.

Star Chart

star chart icon_256Star Chart is a great app for learning about the night sky. Simply point your device at the sky and learn about constellations, individual stars and planets. Star Chart is available for iOS devices and Android devices.


Aurasma ICONIs a multi-purpose AR tool that not only acts as a viewer for AR that others have created, but it allows the user to create their own “Auras.” Creating your own AR experiences obviously takes a bit more learning, but there are tons of great resources for using Aurasma in the classroom that I have listed below. You can view a demo video here. Aurasma is available for both iOS devices and for Android devices.

Some Aurasma in the Classroom Resources

Your Challenge:

Look over the resources above, then in the comments below, please share how you have used or could imagine using one or more of these in your classroom. If you have other AR apps that you like, please feel free to share those as well.


  1. I have thought a great way to use AR would be to create a “virtual” map of the school. We could take pictures from intersections in the hallways and then overlay room numbers, classes in the rooms, or teachers in the rooms certain periods. At Reitz, the building can be very confusing to freshman or visitors. If they could select where they are from a map and using the camera on their phone, the overlays would tell them what rooms were around them or what teachers were there.

  2. I thought these looked awesome, until I researched further. I loved the coloring one, but there are so few options to choose from without purchasing more. I also thought aurasma looked amazing until I realized I had to create these and how much time it appears to take. I plan to share the star chart with our science teachers.

  3. I became an Aurasma fan after EVSC’s technology conference last summer! I haven’t used it like I want to yet because we had some issues with students being blocked, but here are some of my plans…
    1. Make the science fair more interactive by having students create auras as part of their board display. Other students and parents who walk through the fair can hear straight from the student who completed the experiment!
    2. I’d also like to use Aurasma for the art fair. Visitors can listen to the artist explain his/her inspiration for the artwork or explain the medium used…could even show a video of him/her actually creating the piece of art.
    3. The library is another place that Aurasma could really make a difference. I hope to have students who have read books video themselves giving a book review. Turning those into auras would allow other students to see the book reviews whenever they are trying to pick out a new book to read.
    There are so many ways to use Aurasma in and out of the classroom. My only concern is the logistics of getting multiple auras created by multiple students into the same channel to make it easier for the whole school to have access. Any suggestions?

  4. WOW, My mind is blown!I along with my students are very excited about the coloring app. We will be using this next week! They are soooo excited! The exploration that can happen and imagination that can take place… We can make up stories and bring writing into it. They can create more than one to learn about how colors can change the overall appearance of their creation.
    I cant wait to check all of the apps out.

  5. I think these would be great resources to enhance any lesson.

    However, my school isn’t 1:1 just yet, so it might be difficult to implement into my classroom at this point in time.

    I’m going to download it to my iPhone when I get home, so I can play around with it more. I like the idea of the scavenger hunt. The 7th grade standards include being able to follow 6 step instructions. I do a scavenger hunt around the school each year, in order to help them, but I think being about to use these resources would definitely enhance that lesson.

  6. The kids and I use Sky View. I take time out of every week to discuss the universe. The kids really enjoy learning about another topic in my Business classes. If some of my students do not have this app they use a program in Google called Star Chart that is very easy to use…just point and click.

  7. These resources can really enhance a learning experience. Learning has been moving away from a textbook focus, but this can taking learning to a new level. By linking information with actual objects, students will be able to make connections and further develop their individual learning schemata while participating in the learning experience. For example, currently a student may look at the sky, see a constellation, then compare that image with a star chart in a book. This process requires the student to remove his/her focus from the sky. With AR apps such as Star Chart, a student can look at the sky, and without removing their focus from the constellation, the student can instantly access information.

  8. I find the app Sky Walk completely fascinating and love sky gazing (when it’s much warmer of course) with it. I think that making one of my own for the school to have as a virtual tour of points of interest could be an interesting adventure. This could also be done for where resources are within your own room and have as a scavenger hunt at the beginning of the school year. Reading more into it though, it seems that there is much time and effort to create one so this might be something I dabble with on a slow, snowy day or over the summer sometime. This is the future!

  9. I had never hear of AR before today. I checked out the apps and thought they were really neat. I like word lens and think it will be useful for a foreign language class. I plan to share with my son who is taking Latin if they have that version.
    The ColAR app looked really neat and I downloaded it but quickly found out that you have to use their coloring pages and pay for most. Disappointed. I was hoping any page would work and could be used for book report presentations etc.
    The anatomy app and Star Chart would be useful for science classes. Almost makes things come to life.
    I like the idea of the scavenger hunt that was mentioned in one of the videos. The students could learn a lot of history about buildings in their town using the app. I think these apps will be really useful as they are developed and we use them in class. Can’t wait to see what other AR apps are out there.

  10. We started looking at Aurasma for a project one of my students wanted to do. She was going to create a business card for our Project Lead the Way teachers and was going to use augmented reality to play an interview of the teacher when scanned. The problem was that you have to pay for it to automatically play using Aurasma and it isn’t cheap. The only other option was for people to subscribe to her Aurasma channel and then they could scan it. Augmented Reality is really cool and it should develop into something even more amazing, but for this project my student quickly discovered that it wasn’t the best solution for this project.

  11. Anatomy 4D will be nice when covering adaptations in Biology…and in an attention getting way at the beginning of the semester.

    Aurasma is definitely something I will be looking into next semester. Interactive presentations for a variety of Biology topics put together with students’ personal interests in music/visuals has my attention.

  12. I had never heard of the term “augmented reality” although after watching the introductory video, I realized I have used the technology w/o knowing its name. A family friend’s daughter is studying to be a nurse and said just about everyone in her classes use the Anatomy 4D app. The Star Chart app I found the most fun to use since it’s “real time” info on the sky as I saw it. The more real the technology is, the more interested students are in using it.

  13. These AR apps are EPIC and so much fun. When students have the ability to control the device and what it does, it gives them a greater sense of the awesome power of the devices we have given them.

    I was first introduced to AR at a yearbook convention. When you viewed a cover through the smartphone app, it animated the graphic. It was very cool, but it was also pretty expensive. I again saw this at IHOP where you can animate characters on the table stands.

    In the classroom, I like the ability to control the content and make the two work seamlessly. I would love to see an AR app where you could just scan in the vocabulary words and get enrichment activities and more help. Sesame Street unveiled an AR app that does some of this, but that is at a level well below where my classes are.

  14. The AR apps look cool. I would be on the look out for those geared toward history or literature. Similar to some of the examples using artwork, I could incorporate images of historical / literary significance. Maybe an image of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond with a reading.

  15. LOVE AR apps. I heard about AR at the ICE conference this fall. They even have 3D printers that they are using to print objects. Shortly after hearing about this I watched an episode of Gray’s Anatomy and they were using a 3D printer to make veins. At the ICE conference they also suggested using the AR apps to “bring things to life” in a scavenger type hunt. They mentioned that some of the home improvement stores have these and you can actually see in a 3d image how your room would be set up. I am one of these people that have to see it set up physically before I can visualize it and this would save my back! Many learners are visual learners and this will really benefit them. I also think these apps would be neat for history projects. At ICE they took a picture of the back of a $20 bill and it brought it to life showing the history of the bill of all the different parts of it.

  16. I think it could work for a scavenger hunt in math but the time it would take to make it using symbols would be crazy I think. It could also work (Aursma) for the year end geometry project we do at my school where we use the large Common area to display projects and information. I recently tried to do a QR activity thinking the students could partner up if they didn’t have a phone; but students were reluctant on getting a QR reader app even though it was free! So I foresee problems with this that way too.

  17. I have Star Walk on my iPad, as do the school’s iPad. When I get a message that I can see the International Space Station at a certain time and place one night, I sometimes locate it first with Sky Walk. My students are doing this too, since I let them know when to look.

    Aurasma looks useful for identification of rocks and minerals. After students think they have figured out what they have, they could use their phones to see if they are correct. As I read in the previous Comment, I think they could check force and motion problems, etc.

  18. After Christmas, sixth grade science studies the solar system. I think it would be great to use Star Chart at home on a clear winter night. Students with access to a smartphone could go outside and use the phone to locate something in the night sky. I would make a post on My Big Campus for students to share their findings/observations. It would be a great way to share and also compare and contrast what was found.

  19. I love the idea of AR. I love being able to use my phone to identify things in real life and connect them to the vast information that is the internet. The resturant thing was pretty nifty!

    Math is a bit hard to connect with this one, but I see it as an awesome way to do stations around the room. Or even as a homework assignment. Students could move around the room and try to complete a math problem given to them using the Aursma. Then, check their answers using the AR app on their phones/ipads. It could also go through and detail how to work the problem in case they got it incorrect.

    Could also be used for hallway advertisements throughout the school! Come to Anime Club or Film Club etc.

    The major downside I see to this is Aursma is that it seems to take a LOT of time and effort to make a few AR lessons. The demos they gave us and the how-to list thats almost a page long of videos looks like it would be very time consuming. Would love to see if there is a way to search for pre-made ones.

  20. I teach a large unit on the Solar System in my Science class. I really like the Star Chart app. I also use Google Sky map. The kids love it. I would consider using Anatomy 4D but it would have to be closely monitored due to some of the content.

  21. I could definitely see using the Anatomy 4D for my Science students. You have to be very careful because there is material in this app that may not be age appropriate, but it is a great tool to get a more realistic view of the human body. I think it would greatly improve their retention of the boy systems.

    Star Chart would help as we study the characteristics of stars and planets. It always helps them hold on to the information if they can see actual examples of things.

    I have also used Sphere 360 Camera app in my Social Studies classes. It allows you to get a virtual 360 degree tour of many places on Earth. As you move the iPad, the images move with you, just like you are actually standing there. My students love it. It has brought Geography to life!

  22. These AR apps are wonderful! We will be getting our first IPADS in a few months and cannot wait to try them out. These apps are for all ages, the Anatomy 4d for science is really cool. I can see using the World Lens on a trip. The DAQRI for smaller children to help bring their world alive. I can also see my granddaughter using the ColAR Mix, the 3D is wonderful

    • As mentioned, a word of caution with the Daqri app “Anatomy 4D” as it is anatomically correct makes it not necessarily appropriate for elementary students.

  23. ColAR – We have brainstormed and stated this was a great way to start a 3D Art class at the HS. Students are transitioning from Advanced 2D to Intro to 3D. Elementary students can also use this to narrate a story they may be presenting to a class! The possibilities I am sure are endless and we plan to continue using this app.

    Word Lens is incredible and I believe we are considering the addition of this App to all of our Foreign Exchange Student packages.

  24. Google has an app like Star Chart, where you point it at the sky and it will give you information about the stars and planets. Since my freshman English basic skills class is entirely skills based, I can pull in information from virtually any source to practice summarizing, paraphrasing, etc. Last year I did a research project using the Google World Wonders project. I’m thinking about offering an alternate version using Star Chart or the Google Sky app. Students with smartphones could research the star(s) or planet(s) that catch their eye and summarize/paraphrase the data they find. Some of my students would love that option.

  25. I first heard of Aurasma this summer at a conference and saw an example of teacher using for a scavenger hunt in their building. Ther teacher had different objects place around the school and when students used the Arasma app to gain clues to take them to the next location.

    All of these apps are really neat, the word lens could have lots of applications, but I need to find out if our students can use them on a Chromebook. My initial guess would be no. I will definitely be sharing these with out iPad classrooms!

  26. I love these AR apps, and so do kids (of all ages)! Another great one I love is “SkyView” here is a link to it in the iOS app store

    There is a free version and a $1.99 version, Totally worth it if you like stargazing! I have used this app in class for several Earth and space science lessons. The app lays an AR image of constellations, planets, stars, and man-made objects that are in orbit around the earth (ISS, Hubble, etc). As you are looking at the app on your tablet, at night you see the stars and the AR overlay, very cool. You can also tap on any AR object and get fun facts about them.

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