Understanding the Brain

Augmented learning

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Augmented learning is an on-demand learning technique where the environment adapts to the learner. Instead of focusing on memorization, supplemental information is presented to the learner based on the current context. The augmented content can be dynamically tailored to the learner's natural environment by displaying text, images, video or even playing audio (music or speech). This additional information is commonly shown in a pop-up window for computer-based environments.

Most implementations of augmented learning are forms of e-learning. In desktop computing environments, the learner receives supplemental, contextual information through an on-screen, pop-up window, toolbar or sidebar. As the user navigates a website, e-mail or document, the learner associates the supplemental information with the key text selected by a mouse or other input device.

Augmented learning is closely related to augmented intelligence and intelligence amplification. Augmented intelligence applies information processing capabilities to extend the processing capabilities of the human mind through distributed cognition. Augmented intelligence provides extra support for autonomous intelligence and has a long history of success. Mechanical and electronic devices that function as augmented intelligence range from the abacus, calculator, personal computers and smart phones. Software with augmented intelligence provide supplemental information that is related to the context of the user. When an individual's name appears on the screen, a pop-up window could display person's organizational affiliation, contact information and most recent publications.

In mobile reality systems,[1] the annotation may appear on the learner's individual "heads-up display" or through headphones for audio instruction.

Foreign language educators are also beginning to incorporate augmented learning techniques to traditional paper-and-pen-based exercises. For example, augmented information is presented near the primary subject matter, allowing the learner to learn how to write glyphs while understanding the meaning of the underlying characters. See Understanding language, below.

Just-in-time learning

Augmentation tools can help learners understand issues, acquire relevant information and solve complex issues by presenting supplementary information at the time of need or "on demand." This contrasts with traditional methods of associative learning, including rote learning, classical conditioning and observational learning, where the learning is performed in advance of the learner's need to recall or apply what has been learned.

Snyder and Wilson[2] assert that just-in-time learning is not sufficient. Long-term learning demands continuous training should be individualized and built upon individual competencies and strengths.

Understanding language

Augmented learning tools have been useful for learners to gain an enhanced understanding of words or to understand a foreign language. The interactive, dynamic nature of these on-demand language assistants can provide definitions, sample sentences and even audible pronunciations.

Making learning fun

One researcher[3] has suggested that handheld devices like cell phones and portable game machines (GameBoy, PlayStation Portable) can make an impact on learning. These mobile devices excel in their portability, context sensitivity, connectivity and ubiquity. By incorporating social dynamics in a real-world context, learning games can create compelling environments for learners.

At the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, visitors view information on-demand at the "A Future for the Past" exhibit. In a virtual reconstruction of Satricum and the Forum Romanum, users can call up information that is overlayed on room-sized photos and other images. The museum uses both stationary displays and mobile computers to allow users to view translucent images and information keyed to their specific interest.[4]

Is augmentation really "learning"?

Critics may see learning augmentation as a crutch that precludes memorization; similar arguments have been made about using calculators in the past. Just as rote learning is also not a substitute for understanding, augmented learning is simply another faculty for helping learners recall, present and process information.

Current research suggests that even unconscious visual learning can be effective.[5] Visual stimuli, rendered in flashes of information, showed signs of learning even when the human adult subjects were unaware of the stimulus or reward contingencies.

See also


  1. Augmented Learning, Augmented Learning: Context-Aware Mobile Augmented Reality Architecture for Learning
  2. Computer Augmented Learning: The Basis of Sustained Knowledge Management
  3. Klopfer, Eric, Augmented Learning: Research and Design of Mobile Educational Games
  4. Flatley, Joseph L., Augmented reality at the Allard Pierson Museum in Netherland
  5. Seitz, Aaron R.; Kim, Dongho; Watanabe, Takeo (12 March 2009). "Rewards Evoke Learning of Unconsciously Processed Visual Stimuli in Adult Humans". Neuron, 61 (5): 700–707. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2009.01.016. http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(09)00083-X. 


  • Karacapilidis, Nikos (2009). Solutions and Innovations in Web-Based Technologies for Augmented Learning: Improved Platforms, Tools, and Applications. PA: IGI Global. ISBN 1-60566-238-0, 9781605662381
  • Milne, Andre J. (1999). Shaping the Future of Technology-Augmented Learning Environments: Report on a Planning Charrette at Stanford University. http://www-cdr.stanford.edu/~amilne/Publish/SCUP-34_Abstract.PDF

External links

  • Education & Learning List of selected links
  • Loqu8 iCE Augmented learning software for learning Chinese. Pops-up over web browsers and Microsoft Office. Includes Pinyin, tone colors and Bopomofo.
  • Augmented reality Augmented Reality Technology Brings Learning to Life