Technology with purpose

How AR is transforming teaching with Discovery Education

When it comes to wow-factor learning, augmented reality delivers on every front. Springing objects, books and images into spectacular 3D life, AR has the power to astound and engage in ways that can truly enhance learning. It can also add layers of powerful impact to teaching, helping children to grasp difficult concepts and deepen their understanding.

Easy to access and simple to use, many primary schools are turning to augmented reality as part of a broad and balanced curriculum.

Teachers at Beatrix Potter School in Wandsworth use Discovery Education’s Immersive Experiences to bring AR into the primary classroom. Here they share how the technology enlivens teaching and creates new depth to learning.

Engaging learners

Beatrix Potter Year 4 teacher Oliver Woods has been using AR for some time, after recognising its potential to engage young learners. He’s impressed by the instant impact AR makes. He says: “Children naturally love technology, but AR is particularly powerful because it brings objects to life before their eyes. When we teach with AR our pupils are amazed. It engages them with a subject instantly.”

Deeper learning

As well as capturing the imagination, Woods finds that AR helps his pupils to access deeper levels of learning. Studying the Romans this term, the children have used Discovery Education’s AR resources to invite soldiers, Gods and emperors into the classroom.

The technology brings pupils face to face with ‘real-life’ characters from Boudicca to Caesar, making ancient history relatable and real.

“We are surrounded by books in school, but AR adds new depth to learning,” explains Woods. “Pupils can do so much more with a 3D object because it’s interactive and brings the facts to life. It supports the lesson and is hugely beneficial, encouraging pupils to go deeper, to ask questions.”

Cognitive load

The visual aspect of AR has real benefits as well, leaving a lasting impression which helps pupils to grasp and retain information. Beatrix Potter’s ICT Lead, Andrew Goodgame, sees this in action across the school. He says: “A lot of pupils are visual learners. When I use AR I find that the children retain information for weeks after a lesson. They hold the knowledge for longer than they would if they had simply seen a picture of a Roman soldier in a book, because he was actually standing on the table in front of them.”

Headteacher Steph Neale is quick to point out the impact too, saying: “AR revolutionises learning. It changes the whole dynamic of how a child visualises the past, let alone the future.”

Augmented and virtual reality can revolutionise the way in which primary school children access the curriculum


More than just a standalone tech tool, teachers at Beatrix Potter find that AR can be used right across the curriculum, with natural links to other subjects.

Recently Woods used AR as a prompt for an extended writing task, using Discovery Education’s Ballista Challenge resource as a stimulus. The challenge lets children fire an AR Roman catapult using their knowledge of science and maths to achieve the right speed and angle.

Having practised firing the ballista, he asked pupils to write step-by-step instructions before completing a ‘big write’ the following day. He found that the immersive experience helped pupils to extend their learning and approach the writing task with real enthusiasm: “AR can help children who struggle with writing. When pupils have experienced a subject, they approach it with greater confidence. Because the children had seen and fired the ballista, and enjoyed the lesson, they were able to make better use of language. They were inspired to produce some great writing.”

The ballista lesson also supported STEM learning, as pupils naturally explored gravity, probability and lines of symmetry when considering how best to fire the catapult. ICT Lead Andrew Goodgame says that AR’s cycle of repetitive thinking helps children to develop computational thinking skills.

“The visual experience of AR allows pupils to test different theories over and over again, without risk. Unlike a physical object, AR leaves no mess. There’s nothing to break or to reassemble. Children can debug and make adjustments until they get it right. It’s a great learning experience,” he says.

Sound pedagogy

Making learning more memorable is just part of the appeal of Discovery Education’s Immersive Experiences. High-quality resources take teaching further, applying technology with purpose to deliver sound pedagogical outcomes. Content is carefully designed to help children take on new concepts or to evolve their understanding. Each resource is also closely mapped to the National Curriculum, enabling teachers to embed knowledge alongside wonder and enjoyment, while meeting curriculum goals.

Beatrix Potter headteacher Steph Neale says that AR has an important role to play in helping schools deliver a broad and balanced curriculum: “Augmented and virtual reality can revolutionise the way in which primary school children access the curriculum. They have the power to enliven every subject and create amazing learning experiences which inspire young learners.”

This is certainly the case at Beatrix Potter Primary School. Pupils look forward to immersive lessons and are engaged with subjects they previously found challenging. Neale thinks that AR is the reason behind this. He says: “AR is the pop-up book of the 21st century. It brings concepts to life in even greater depth. The technology is amazing and it’s simple for teachers to use. It’s also brilliant for engaging reluctant learners. Immersive experiences transform teaching. Put simply, they are the future.”

Discovery Education is the global leader in curriculum-aligned digital resources, engaging content and professional learning for primary and secondary classrooms.

Immersive experiences are now available within Espresso, Discovery Education’s award-winning digital learning service.