Transferring 2D understanding to a 3D space and vice versa can be challenging, and not just for young learners. Anyone who has taken an advanced math or science course knows that complex and abstract concepts can be challenging to comprehend if no tangible applications exist. Fields like landscape architecture, for example, rely heavily on one’s ability to render in 2D maps what will ultimately be experienced in 3D.

In order to address this challenge, Melissa Currie, assistant professor of landscape architecture at Texas Tech University, has incorporated an augmented reality sandbox into her lessons. Though she is not the first to develop this technology, she rightly recognized that it could help her students better understand and visualize topography. Having a physical model to manipulate is an excellent way for students to see changes in landform, see 2D maps transformed, and learn about the effects of construction on watersheds and the earth more generally.

What other learning opportunities could this AR sandbox provide in other academic departments? How does the hands-on nature of the AR sandbox assist learning at a collegiate level in ways that other tools can't? Add your thoughts to the ongoing discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion:

@00:18 Anna Curry: Some people learn best by doing and interacting with something. They can't see a chart or listen to a lecture and understand a concept. This tactile learning experience offers an avenue of understanding for these types of learners.

@02:30 Rebecca Sullivan: I wonder if similar AR devices could be used in fields like architecture. For example, it would be fascinating to see populations "inhabit" a model building or city block. An AR projection of foot traffic, for instance, could help show whether a building design facilitates easy movement.