Education has seen the biggest disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lock down caused by the pandemic has created a necessity for innovation in classroom teaching. While EdTech has seen the biggest benefit, technology is making its inroads into classrooms and educational institutions. Teachers are finding new ways to teach students online and one tool that has become prominent is Augmented Reality.
Last month, we told you how Mr. Riyaz Hussain is using ARious – an AR app designed to educate students key science concepts – to teach biology at a school in Andhra Pradesh.
Now, we will look at how Meridian School in Kalyan, Maharashtra is using ARious across their online classrooms. “We knew about AR. ARious made it easier for us to adopt the technology,” Mrs. Bhagyashri Pisolkar, Principal, Meridian School told us.
How ARious is used in Meridian School
Mrs. Pisolkar says that Meridian School relied on regular classroom teaching before the pandemic struck across the world. The School used teaching aids and digital boards as a way of modernizing education. When the teaching became online in April, due to nationwide lockdown, Meridian School saw an opportunity to digitize its classrooms, to use adopt new ways of teaching and enable teachers to move with time.
Teachers at Meridian School quickly learned, adapted and settled into the routine of online classrooms. Despite challenges like device availability or network problems, they started discovering beyond books to teach their students. Madam Pisolkar explains that Meridian School is using ARious primarily to teach students in classes V to X. She adds that the response from younger children has been phenomenal.
ARious is an app that caters to students learning key Science concepts in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Astronomy. It has modules for secondary school students. She says, young kids are savvy about technology and they are quick to adopt apps like ARious. She cites “The Wind Energy to Kinetic Energy module in Physics” as a good example of technology making science easily understandable for students.
ARious is designed with science teachers in mind
Mrs. Pisolkar further adds that Meridian School has always encouraged adoption of technology to teach students. With the pandemic though, they are seeing real benefits. She notes that ARious makes for a great tool because it is “designed with science teachers” in mind. “The app is innovative and science teachers are really excited about it.”
While Mrs. Bhagyashri Pisolkar is the Principal of Meridian School, she also teaches Physics and Chemistry and has long and extensive experience teaching Chemistry to students at various levels including graduate students. She was one of the authors for Board textbook. She opines that the Physics and Chemistry modules offered by ARious redefines learning for students. The most significant advantage of using an AR app like ARious is its ability to move students from their home to a laboratory environment.
Augmented Reality is a technology that overlays digital content or information onto the physical world. With AR ready smartphones, the access to this technology is having impact in multiple industries. Education, as shown by ARious, is prime for disruption in a big way.
Mrs. Pisolkar explains usefulness of AR technology- ARious to teach abstract concepts, furnishing the example of the structure of an atom.
From Learning to Believing
With ARious, Mrs Pisolkar points out, the abstract concepts are understood better. Some of the experiments are explained in the textbook but are not possible to be conducted in the laboratory. AR effectively shows those experiments to students virtually. This ensures involvement of the students and ease of understanding and believing of concepts. She explained. “With AR and apps like ARious, students are able to understand content such as how cathode rays are emitted in a way that is real,” she further said about the technology.
Mrs. Pisolkar wants to be at the edge of using modern methods of teaching. As a curious Physics and Chemistry teacher, it is not surprising to see her interest in AR technology – ARious, she says that the excitement she saw from her students has turned her into a believer.
Mr. Riyaz Hussain said that he loves germination of seed as a module. Mrs. Bhagyashri Pisolkar says “Discovery of Nucleus” is her favorite module.
Discovery of Nucleus
For any Physics students, knowing about atoms, molecules and nuclei forms the basis of conceptual learning. ARious offers three modules called Discovery of Electron, Discovery of Nucleus and Atomic Model. Mrs. Pisolkar says that she found the AR version of Rutherford’s experiment interesting for both science teachers as well as students.
It is not surprising since Discovery of Nucleus works like storytelling on ARious. It starts with accidental discovery, revolves around the gold foil experiment before revealing the nucleus. It can be described as an edge of the seat of learning experience in physics.
“It is challenging to explain the thickness of a gold foil. With ARious, the experience was thrilling for students,” Madam Pisolkar says about the gold foil experiment. She sees ARious fundamentally changing the way students learn scientific concepts today and in the future. However, the Principal of Meridian School is also conscious of the fact that ARious is an AR tool. She says that the experience is unmatched for students when they go to the lab and perform the experiment themselves. For now, ARious is serving as a bridge for a scenario where students cannot go to school or laboratories during lockdown. In the future, she sees apps like ARious serving a hybrid model where students perform experiments in laboratories and then using the app for further learning at home.
ARious becoming important in future
She also sees ARious becoming important for teaching concepts where students cannot be physically present in the classroom or when the logistical challenge is huge. When we asked if she could provide any example, she said, experiments involving hazardous chemicals cannot be conducted on School premises but can be virtually done using AR. “Catalysis is another concept which can be taught using apps like ARious,” she said as an additional example.
What started as a passion of Dr. Sudhakar Agarkar to turn science learning into AR experience, has been adopted in a big way by Principal, Bhagyashri Pisolkar and Meridian School in Kalyan, Maharashtra. Schools can follow Meridian to adopt this technology.
Freelance Technology Journalist