Getting started with AR and VR: Defining Terms
When diving into the world of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality it’s very important to understand how they are two distinct mediums for learning.
Virtual Reality (VR) is meant to take you somewhere else. Augmented Reality (AR) is meant to add to where you are. We place these on a mixed reality continuum where we see a Virtual Reality environment on the far right and Augmented Reality leading towards a Real Environment.
Mixed Reality Continuum 
More academic definitions:
Virtual Reality (VR) – creates interactive computer-generated worlds, which substitute real-world sensory perceptions with digitally generated ones, producing the sensation of actually being in life-sized new environments. 
Augmented Reality (AR) – the most significant advantage of AR is its unique ability to create immersive hybrid learning environments that combine digital and physical objects, thereby facilitating the development of processing skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communicating through interdependent collaborative exercises (Dunleavy, Dede, & Mitchell, 2009). 
How do we interact with VR and AR experiences?
Within these definitions, we can come to the conclusion that these are two different mediums for learning. For example, VR can be experienced through head mounted devices like those offered through Google Cardboard, Oculus, HTC, etc. but it can also be experienced on a laptop or tablet screen. Of course, using a head-mounted device that blocks out the real-world would increase your level of immersion in a VR experience.
Likewise, AR experiences come in several forms.
- Target-Based AR uses your device camera to trigger a response from something like a QR code.
- Location-based AR uses GPS coordinates and other geolocation features sometimes connected to Wi-Fi to launch or trigger an AR experience for the user these are not dependent on a specific Target rather on the location of the device being used.
- Device-Based AR asks that you download the appropriate application to view in the real world. An example would be filters that you can add to your face when you take a selfie. Using these apps, you augment your face through stickers and effects that that do not require a target nor a geo-location. They simply require your selfie.
Who’s using VR and AR?
We are starting to see the application of these emergent technologies in many different fields: Industry, Medicine, Corporate, Higher Education and now K12. While the novelty factor of these tools is enticing, it is important that we start to recognize them as tools that students can use to increase understanding and achieve learning objectives.
I have found the application of emerging technology in my classroom to amplify my instructional practice. The things that I do well seem to be highlighted and the things that I need to work on pedagogically are also highlighted. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and enthusiasm students have around trying something new, but the most powerful learning experiences are in the conversation that follows the tool use.
Micah Shippee, PhD
Social Studies Teacher
Google Certified Innovator, Trainer, and Teacher
Google Earth Education Expert
 “Milgram’s continuum (Milgram and Kishino, 1994) The specific ….” https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Milgrams-continuum-Milgram-and-Kishino-1994-The-specific-characteristics-of-augmented_fig1_235910711. Accessed 6 Sep. 2018.