Augmented Reality in the Classroom – Spatial Computing

The gaming industry has driven rapid advances in mixed reality (MR) systems that incorporate computer images into the real world. Computational, display, and sensor technologies now allow the use of spatial computing (SC) to design, construct, and utilize virtual 3-dimensional images in a variety of applications. Figure 1 (created by Magic Leap, Inc.) illustrates the differences between Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Spatial Computing (SC). The SC-FLC will use state-of-the art technology and an understanding of relevant social science and education research to design and develop applications that have the potential to impact learning at the college level.

Virtual Reality (VR): Digital environments that shut out the physical world. Augmented Reality (AR): Digital environments overlaid on top of the physical world. Spatial Computing (SC): Digital content interacts with the physical world - and you.

Figure 1. The progression of user experience from VR (isolated from real environment) to AR (superimposed on real world) to SC (interacts with real world). Source: Magic Leap

At this point, any developments in the area of spatial computing are new and can be publishable. However, the FLC will bring together faculty from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to choose the best directions for exploitation of the Magic Leap technology and secure a leadership role in the field. The members of this FLC will learn about educational applications of AR and develop skills to create their own educational materials using this platform or find their niche in this exciting field.

Goals and Outcomes of the FLC

  • Study of the social science and education literature about human interaction with mixed reality;
  • Participation in workshops on how the latest AR technology works and hands-on demonstrations;
  • Conversations about design of educational activities using the best practices to date;
  • Lessons about the underlying software to build apps for use in classrooms using a template format;
  • Opportunities for integration into cross-cutting or departmental curricula;
  • Provide interdisciplinary peer support for projects and showcase results to campus.

This FLC will meet 6-8 times during the 2019-2020 year and hold 6 skill-building workshops.


It is open to all faculty who are interested in using transformational AR technology in their classrooms. This may include tech-savvy or simply curious faculty looking for a niche research area with plenty of opportunity. The FLC is appropriate for new faculty, those who already have experience incorporating technology into their classrooms, or those with an interest in exploring the impact of new tools on teaching and learning.


Dr. Andrienne Friedli (Chemistry) and Dr. John Wallin (Physics & Astronomy)