CONTRAINDICATIONS AND LIMITATIONS OF AUGMENTED REALITY USE IN THE CLASSROOM
There are a few issues with implementing innovative teaching practices such as AR into classrooms. These reasons include misconceptions with using ICT in the classroom, teacher reluctance and insufficient access to technology and the internet.
- MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ICT IN THE CLASSROOM – There is a significant disinclination from some educators about the inclusion of digital technology into classroom practice. This reluctance can stem from a belief that technology causes students to become passive in their learning and that encouraging the use of personal devices increases class distractions (Wu et al., 2013). Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya (2015, p.1) disagree vehemently and argue that AR actually causes the learner to become more interactive with the learning content as it requires the student to think critically and be able to make meaning from their interactions. Wu et al. (2017) suggests that the use of mobile phones promotes social interactivity and student collaboration when using through networked devices.
- TEACHER RELUCTANCE – Many teachers are not comfortable with emerging technologies due to their own lack of knowledge with the medium (Pope, 2018a). Wolz (2019, p.6) points out that teachers, like students, develop self efficacy from their own ability, observing others and verbal affirmation. Self efficacy of teachers and educators is essential, as there is a strong correlation between teacher competence and inclusion of digital technologies in the classroom (Wolz, 2019). Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya (2015, p.1) argue that all teachers should be required to continuously keep abreast of new products as part of professional learning and development. Unfortunately, requiring all teachers to be familiar and confident with emerging technologies is simply unfeasible. Many teachers are already overworked and overwhelmed with their current workloads. Therefore, it is more viable that each school has dedicated ICT teachers, or teacher librarians, that are tasked with embedding emerging technologies into classroom practice. This method allows both classroom teachers and students to improve their digital literacy skills and develop ICT acuity concurrently. For schools with a library, it makes sense to ensure the TL has self efficacy with AR/VR technology as most AR installations are sourced in their teaching and learning spaces.
- DIGITAL DIVIDE – This is a significant hurdle to the implementation of digital technologies such as AR in Australian classrooms. The high cost of technology has inhibited its diffusion across classrooms, but the recent rapid advancements and price has reduced this barrier significantly (Wolz, 2019, p.2). It is not common for all students and schools to possess mobile devices and or have available data to have transactions with AR. This issue is more common in rural areas and within lower socio-economic families and schools (DIIS, 2016). The extent of the digital divide has been highlighted and under scrutiny by the recent COVID 19 school closures, where the lack of internet and device access caused many students to be unable to access home learning.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE
Oddone (2019) and Zak (2014) suggest that VR and AR will become mainstream technology soon and it behooves educators to equip students with the necessary skills to maintain their digital literacy. Previously access to these technologies was extremely expensive and many schools were unable to gain access due to lack of funds. However, rapid changes in technology have led to a significant price reduction, but even with the decreased costs, AR installations are still out of reach for many schools. For schools and educational institutions that can afford these emerging technologies, there are educators that lack confidence in their ability to use AR, and there are others that find the available AR content is not suited to the needs of their students (Wu et al., 2013, p.46). Whilst centralising emerging technologies into the library addresses the lack of self efficacy of teachers, it does not solve the issue of unsuitable AR content.
Hannah et al., (2019) proposes that schools create their own 3D content objects that suit their students and align to the curriculum as needed. As part of this approach, images are curated and integrated into the library management system that shares knowledge and collaboration. This method allows all the images that are created in the school by both staff and students to be stored for future use whilst acknowledging the authorship and intellectual property ownership of the images. This proposition is an extension of Zak (2014) idea of using AR in information seeking as mentioned previously. Whilst collection management is part of a librarian’s repertoire, the curation of 3D images requires new vocabulary and ontology, and requires further exploration of the relevant literature. Therefore, it makes logical sense that AR installations and its other forms of hardware and software are centralised in the library and the teacher librarian tasked with cataloging the 3D images, embedding AR and other emerging technologies across the curriculum.