This paper provides qualitative data of a pre-test on the effects of collaborative Augmented Reality (AR) in learning contexts. Digital media and technologies have fundamentally changed communicative practice among people over the past decades. The more digital devices such as smartphones and tablets are used, the more frequently heard are prejudices on the pauperisation of social interaction and communication. Especially when these technologies enter educational contexts, the opinions on the effects of digital media vary widely.
Modern digital technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), however, are assumed to foster the learning process due to their hands-on nature. AR has the advantage of visualising processes, objects or data/information that would actually not be visible or perceptible for the user since it integrates virtual objects into the real world by an overlay display of these objects. Moreover, the collaboration via AR can be realised by using smartphones and tablets. This comprises the advantage of using devices, which the students do not need to learn the operation of since they are in everyday use. However, there is still a lack of research on the impact the use of AR has on team communication, learning processes, and the general outcomes of collaborative teamwork.
Against this background, a prototype of a collaborative AR app was developed as well as a study design was set up for investigating the effects of AR on the teamwork in collaborative learning processes. The study comprises a pre-post-test design in combination with an experimental setting. While the pre- and post-tests are realised by standardised questionnaires and qualitative, semi-standardised focus group interviews, the experimental setting is recorded by video camera in order to qualitatively analyse the video data of the communicative and work-based processes and interactions of the collaboration.
When comparing the test and control group (AR app vs. paper-based) the verbal communication of the test group was lower in terms of number and frequency of statements. However, the product presented as result of the collaboration phase was of comparable quality and detail as the control group’s product. With respect to communicative structures during the collaboration and the outcomes of the respective group products, the study also investigates the effect of AR on these aspects. The focus of this paper, however, is the examination of the effect(s) of the collaborative AR app developed on the process of the teamwork in terms of communication and interaction in order to understand to which extent AR changes the way people communicate in collaborative settings, i.e. when they pursue a common goal. Moreover, the results of the study aim at identifying recommendations for action (e.g. for university teachers) in terms of the design of collaborative (learning) processes that will be enriched by AR.
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