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Teaching with Augmented Reality Using Tablets, Both as a Tool and an Object of Learning

  • Sabrina Syskowski*
    Sabrina Syskowski
    Department of Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University of Konstanz, 78464 Konstanz, Germany
    Chair of Science Education, Thurgau University of Education, 8280 Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
    *Email: [email protected]
  • Chantal Lathwesen*
    Chantal Lathwesen
    Department of Biology and Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
    *Email: [email protected]
  • Canan Kanbur*
    Canan Kanbur
    Department of Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University of Konstanz, 78464 Konstanz, Germany
    Chair of Science Education, Thurgau University of Education, 8280 Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
    *Email: [email protected]
    More by Canan Kanbur
  • Antje Siol*
    Antje Siol
    Department of Biology and Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
    *Email: [email protected]
    More by Antje Siol
  • Ingo Eilks*
    Ingo Eilks
    Department of Biology and Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
    Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Universitas Negeri Malang, 65145 Malang, Indonesia
    *Email: [email protected]
    More by Ingo Eilks
  • , and 
  • Johannes Huwer*
    Johannes Huwer
    Department of Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University of Konstanz, 78464 Konstanz, Germany
    Chair of Science Education, Thurgau University of Education, 8280 Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
    *Email: [email protected]
Cite this: J. Chem. Educ. 2024, 101, 3, 892–902
Publication Date (Web):February 1, 2024
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.3c00607

Copyright © 2024 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc. This publication is licensed under

CC-BY 4.0.
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Abstract

In this paper, we present a novel approach to utilizing tablets in chemistry education. In the context of education for sustainable development, we utilize tablets as objects of learning to address the lithium-ion battery. In addition, we used tablets as learning tools by making use of augmented reality technology. This way, we have created an innovative digital learning scenario that corresponds to a 3-h laboratory. Evaluation took place during the implementation of nonformal student laboratories. Results show positive effects in interest to working with tablets as a tool and an object of learning.

This publication is licensed under

CC-BY 4.0.
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Introduction

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Rapid technological advancement has significantly impacted many areas of our lives, including education. Initially, integrating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into education aimed at enhancing digital skills for future industrial and economic competitiveness. (1) The focus, however, has since shifted toward more effective learning and equipping students and teachers with digital skills, e.g., in chemistry education. Notwithstanding, the challenge of meeting the curricular demands while incorporating ICT remains. This necessitates curriculum development to facilitate the digital technology integration.
In this paper, we present an innovative approach to using ICT in chemistry education. We leverage Augmented Reality (AR) and tablet computers as both learning tools and objects of study. This novel approach allows for the creation of immersive learning scenarios, setting a new standard for chemistry laboratories. Students can access learning resources in a self-regulated manner, bringing socioscientific issues into focus, such as the issue of critical raw materials and E-waste management. This strategy introduces “a new dimension” to chemistry education, emphasizing sustainability and fostering a comprehensive understanding of the role of ICT in education.

Digitalization in Chemistry Education

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In recent decades, digital devices have increasingly permeated various sectors of our life and become accessible to a larger segment of the global population. (2) The demand for integrating ICT in education has been ongoing and is now being reflected in national policies. In 2019, Germany initiated the Digitalpakt Schule, a €6.5 billion program for digital education infrastructure in schools. (3) Similar programs exist in other EU countries and in various forms in the United States. (1,4,5)
Tablets, due to their convenient screen size, mobility, and versatility with applications, have become a popular choice for educational purposes, leading to an increase in personal student tablets with several educational functions. (6−10) This also includes the possibility of employing Augmented Reality models to improve understanding of specific concepts, which has been increasingly emphasized recently. (11)
While providing opportunities, digitalization also poses societal challenges in data management, data safety, digital infrastructure, and ICT literacy. These challenges intersect with sustainability concerns, giving digital devices a new pedagogical role as objects of learning. This “chemical-intensive trend” impacts the environment through the mining of various critical raw materials needed to produce digital devices. (12) More than 30 critical raw materials are used in a tablet. (13) Also, the considerable amount of energy needed for the production and use of digital devices as ever-increasing data traffic happens has a significant impact on our natural environment. (14) And finally, digital technology ends up being electronic waste.
The technology of Mixed/Virtual/Augmented Reality (MR/VR/AR) is one of the Top 10 emerging technologies in chemistry and therefore represents an innovative approach in the field of chemistry education as well. (15) Therefore, it is suggested to be used as a special tool to enable visual, immersive work methods in chemistry. Our development in this paper is based on the definition of Tschiersch et al., (16) which describes Augmented Reality (AR) as an interactive and real-time augmentation of reality using digital content. This technology is built on the registration of 3D objects in real space. (17,18) In simpler terms, AR bridges the gap between real-life physical objects by overlaying them with digitally generated content.
AR can enrich experiments by adding digital information to experimental setups or reactions. This can be in the form of definitions, labels of, or instructions for, e.g., laboratory equipment, (19) safety instructions, (20) and more. This can go as far as completely transferring the experiment into virtuality. (21) AR can also support paper-based learning in that analogous learning materials, such as worksheets or books, are enhanced digitally with supplementary information. Like in the case of enriching experiments, the supplementary information can consist of texts, images, videos, 3D models, etc. (22) AR can illuminate unseen processes (e.g., the intercalation process of lithium ions in batteries) by bridging the macroscopic and submicroscopic levels (as discussed as one of the major challenges in learning chemistry (23)), aiding students who struggle with imaging submicroscopic processes. This is done by projecting particle movements and symbolic representations of chemical states or processes onto real scenarios, enhancing understanding of chemistry. (24) Apart from the technical and educational potential that AR offers for chemistry education, some studies have been able to demonstrate negative effects in specific cases (e.g., on cognitive overload). (24) There is, however, a large array of case studies reporting on the positive effects of AR concerning motivation. Since our learning environment is primarily concerned with motivating students to engage with the sustainability of a tablet’s use, our evaluation focuses only on situational interest and motivational aspects. (25)

Digitalization, Electronic Waste, and Education for Sustainable Development

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The way humans have performed in the last hundred years has brought us to a point where the strive for sustainable development became a regulatory idea for international and national policies, e.g., in the Agenda 2030, (26) down to our individual everyday lives. Apart from the ecological impacts of human activities, sustainable development also addresses economic and social aspects. Economic aspects involve, among other factors, the access to raw materials needed for technological development and production. Many technology-relevant raw materials have been identified as critical. A material’s criticality is thereby determined by a high economic significance and simultaneous high supply risk. (27) For the scope of this paper, the most relevant example of lithium and cobalt use is the lithium-ion battery for mobile devices (or other applications such as electric cars). The EU, e.g., relies on cobalt imports by 84% with the biggest supplier being the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and lithium imports by 90% from Chile, China, and Australia. (28) The United States imports nearly half of its lithium from Argentina, (29) followed by neighboring Canada with 16%. (30)
To meet the demand of the manufacturing industries, currently, China and South Korea are the main importers of lithium carbonate, (31) and China and the U.S. are the main importers of cobalt. (27) E-waste is a valuable secondary source of raw materials, which is why E-waste is also called an “urban mine”. By an estimation, “[the] value of raw materials in the global E-waste generated in 2019 is equal to approximately 57 billion USD”. (12) Furthermore, in many cases, such as for lithium and cobalt, recycling does not only save a lot of money but also a tremendous amount of CO2 emissions compared to the processing of raw materials. (12)

Enriching the Chemistry Laboratory with Augmented Reality for Sustainability-Related Digital Learning

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The use of tablet computers has boosted the number of digital devices per household, (32) consequently increasing potential electronic waste when devices reach their end of life. (33)
In this context, the “Rare Earths & Co.” project strives to create learning scenarios that merge learning with tablets and learning about tablets, specifically within the framework of education for sustainable development. During this project, Augmented Reality Learning Scenarios (AR-LS) were created for high school students. The project developed practical learning opportunities for nonformal student laboratory settings and created digital learning resources that students can utilize independently, regardless of their access to well-equipped (school) laboratories. The motivation for setting a focus on learning about mobile devices is based on three concepts: Stuckey et al.’s concept of relevance of science education, (34) Marks and Eilks denotation of sociocritical and problem-oriented science teaching, (40) and the concept of systems thinking as outlined, e.g., by Mahaffy et al. (35) In science education, content relevance is tied to three dimensions: individual, societal, and vocational relevance. In their study, Stuckey et al. found that the societal dimension of relevance, i.e., pupils’ grasping the interdependence of science and society and contributing to sustainable development, is the least implemented and at the same time the hardest to implement in science education. (36) All the while, students are trained to take a more holistic view on how chemistry links dynamic societal and environmental systems and (should) notice the interdependence of and interactions between them, i.e., they engage in systems thinking. In the AR-LS discussed in this paper, students are encouraged to interact with technological devices to deduce the environmental, societal, and economic implications of tablets’ sustainable use.

The AR Project Rare Earths & Co

The aim of the project Rare Earths & Co. is to disseminate the AR-LS and reach high school students with innovative teaching and learning materials. So far, some learning scenarios within the project Rare Earths & Co. have already been part of chemistry lessons and were subject to evaluation by teachers and students. (13,37)
Content-wise, the learning scenario is divided into modules based on the structural and functional components of the iPad. Each component consists of a main or representative raw material that is at the center of attention within this module. On the one hand, this gives teachers the chance to exploit the AR-LS at different stages of the chemistry curriculum. On the other hand, this setup helps when teaching time is limited since modules can be skipped, related to homework assignments, or reduced based on teachers’ needs and foci.
This results in two application scenarios for the AR-LS: Accompanying the AR-LS, a series of experiments can be conducted in appropriately equipped schools or nonformal laboratory environments. The AR-LS serves as a supplement to the real experiment. In the case of the lithium-ion battery learning unit, electrolysis described in the AR-LS can be conducted by the students. In case the experiments cannot be conducted in schools, simple steps of an experiment were implemented as an interactive, controllable 3D animation.
Another central problem when considering iPads is the fact that these devices are almost impossible for nonprofessionals to disassemble and reassemble. Many components are glued together or various special tools are required to disassemble the devices without destroying them. Thus, the opening of the devices by laypersons (e.g., students) usually results in irreparable damage. To avoid students having to disassemble their own educational devices to see the individual components of a device, a digital AR-LS was developed, allowing learners to virtually disassemble the device.
The AR for the AR-LS was created with ZapWorks Studio. (38) To access the AR-LS, all the learner needs is an iPad placed on one of the trigger images which contains the AR-LS-specific Zapcode, and the free mobile application ZappAR on a second electronic device (smartphone or second tablet). The components were designed to scale using 3D CAD software and then inserted into ZapWorks Studio.

The Augmented Reality Learning Scenario “Lithium-Ion Battery”

In the learning scenario, AR application (stations 1, 2, and 4) and experiments (stations 3 and 5 are combined with different foci in content: (1) components of an iPad, (2) occurrence and depletion of lithium and cobalt, (3–4) how a lithium-ion battery works (experimentally and theoretically), and (5) substitution potential for lithium.
Once the Zapcode is scanned, the first view of the AR-LS comes up (Figure 1). The learners see the virtual iPad as a whole (station 1). All modules start with this view on the iPad. Via the buttons, the students can navigate through the AR-LS. Two buttons serve to dismantle and reassemble the iPad. This way, the exploration of the structural components of the iPad can be done completely digitally, all the while linking the digital information to the real iPad placed on the trigger image. The advantages of this process compared to disassembling a real iPad are quite clear: it is safer for both students and teachers and is much more available and accessible. In the dismantled view, there is an additional option to turn the virtual components around to see the underside.

Figure 1

Figure 1. iPad is dismantled virtually. The real iPad is placed on the trigger image. Upon scanning of the Zapcode, the real iPad is augmented with a virtual iPad that appears in the same place. By pressing the middle blue button on the right side, the iPad is dismantled. This view also allows us to turn (“drehen”) and turn back (“zurückdrehen”) the structural components of the iPad via the rectangular blue buttons in the AR. The right top button leads to the specific component AR-LS, in this case, aluminum manufacturing by fused salt electrolysis.

The component-specific learning unit on the lithium-ion battery starts with station 2 and deals with the criticality of two raw materials, lithium and cobalt, due to their central importance for the versatile lithium-ion battery. To begin, learners are given an augmented world map showing each country’s cobalt and lithium deposits (Figure 2). By scanning the Zapcode, interactive buttons appear above each country.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Augmented world map: Upon scanning the Zapcode, ten countries are displayed on the world map. By pressing one of the country’s names, a text box appears with information about the country-specific production quantities of lithium and cobalt in tons.

By clicking on these interactive buttons, the learners receive information about the country-specific production quantity of lithium and cobalt in tons per year. The learners should thereby find out which of the countries mines the largest amounts of lithium and cobalt. Based on this, learners evaluate the concentration of countries for these commodities. 84% of the world’s cobalt mining is limited to five countries only, with the Democratic Republic of Congo having the largest share. The following lithium deposits are in three comparatively more politically stable countries: Australia, Chile, and China. With the majority of cobalt and lithium mined in only a small number of countries, trade dependencies exist for the US, EU, and most of the rest of the world. The second part of the feature article focuses on mining conditions in these countries and associated risks. The learners receive the information via a QR code leading to a video (lithium) and an information text (cobalt). After filling out a gap text (lithium) and true-or-false statements (cobalt), students assess the risks associated with lithium and cobalt mining. The risks are associated with working conditions, environmental pollution, and the political situation in some of the corresponding countries. Cobalt is toxic and must therefore not be released into the environment. In addition, cobalt is partially mined under poor working conditions (including child labor (39,40) and lack of safety measures). The inhalation of cobalt dust and its entry into the environment often lead to heavy metal poisoning. Lithium mining also poses risks to nature and agriculture in the mining areas, so both are subject to increased risks. Through this station, the existing supply risk due to limited suppliers and risks due to exploitation should be identified, and the relevance of substitution and recycling potential of cobalt and lithium should be shown.
Stations 3 and 4 cover the work on the lithium-ion rechargeable battery. When charged, the lithium ions are intercalated in the graphite lattice. When discharged, the positively charged lithium ions are removed from the graphite lattice and intercalated between the layers of the metal oxide electrode. In station 3, the learners build a foil lithium-ion accumulator and determine the efficiency by measuring the voltage during discharge or observing the connected electrical load (brightness in the case of a lamp and speed in the case of a propeller). The practical inquiry into the lithium-ion accumulator is supplemented by the theoretical background at station 4. For this, an iPad is placed on the trigger image, and the Zapcode is scanned. A 2D model of the lithium-ion accumulator appears, along with buttons that can be used to control the augmentation (Figure 3). Learners can view the accumulator, in blast view, or at the submicroscopic level. The blast view represents all parts of the lithium-ion accumulator in 2D.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Lithium-ion battery is virtually dismantled. Upon scanning the Zapcode, a virtual iPad appears. By pressing the last blue button on the left side, the lithium-ion battery appears and can be dismantled by pressing the button “Sprengansicht”. The button underneath allows students to see how a lithium cell is constructed on the iPad. Processes at the particle level during the charging and discharging of the battery are accessible via the right button in the bottom bar (Figure 4).

On the macroscopic level, learners learn that a lithium-ion battery consists of a battery cell, charging electronics, a separator, a lithium cobalt oxide electrode, and a graphite electrode. At the submicroscopic level (“particle level” button), they can observe the electron and cation motion during the discharging and charging process in an animated 3D model (Figure 4). The macroscopic level shows the basic setup of the electrolyte, broken down into the most significant subunits. On the symbolic level, the relevant items of the electrolysis are labeled digitally.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Augmented discharging of the lithium-ion battery at the submicroscopic level. The charging (“Laden”) or discharging (“Entladen”) can be simulated in the submicroscopic model and the migration of the ions can be observed. The reaction equations for the half-cells, as well as the corresponding explanations, can be called up by clicking on the button “Symbolebene”. The intercalation in the graphite lattice can be viewed as a 3D model by pressing the “Graphitgitter” button.

Additional information about the submicroscopic processes during charging and discharging is provided by the integrated text boxes. The AR-LS can be viewed from all sides, meaning that the AR-content is fixed on its ascribed spot and with its ascribed alignment on the real iPad. Using the “Unload” and “Load” buttons, they can repeat the animations as needed and thus control their learning progress individually. Additionally, the symbol layer for the charging and discharging process as well as a 3D model of the graphite lattice with intercalated ions can be accessed via the respective buttons. Consequently, all three levels of the Johnstone triangle are embedded in the augmentation of the lithium-ion accumulator: the microscopic, submicroscopic, and symbolic levels. (23) The main asset of learning about the lithium-ion accumulator using AR is, is, that the students gain interactive, immersive insight into a “black box”, which cannot be opened or studied in class due to safety and technical reasons. By adding a submicroscopic level to the electrolysis and disassembling the black box, it is also possible to counteract the development of misconceptions. An additional upside of this AR-LS is that this electrolysis cannot be conducted at school easily, so this AR-LS is a viable alternative to 2D depictions of the charging and discharging process from the chemistry textbook.
In the last two stations, learners explore ways to make the lithium-ion battery more environmentally friendly. Whether a raw material is considered critical depends not only on its economic importance but also on its supply risk. One indicator of this is the demand and substitution possibilities. The more difficult it is to substitute the raw material, the greater the supply risk. In station 5, the learners should first consider which substance could replace lithium. For this, they receive a hint encoded in the periodic table. They then tested experimentally whether and how well sodium is suitable as a substitute for lithium in the accumulator. For this, the students can measure the voltage or connect the same electrical consumer again. It should be possible to measure a lower voltage or observe a weaker performance. Lithium ions cannot currently be replaced in accumulators by ions of other alkali metals without a loss of efficiency. Cobalt can also be replaced only by nickel or manganese, for example, if a reduction in battery performance and safety is considered. However, research is still being conducted into alternatives for both raw materials without a loss of performance, including sodium ion accumulators or lithium air batteries. It should be emphasized that individual stations of the AR-LS can also be omitted in advance for material or time reasons. Furthermore, the learners are free to choose which stations and in which order they work on them within the time.
All findings of the class are brought together in the debriefing session afterward. For this, the students use their findings from the stations and the additional information provided via a QR code to evaluate the six dimensions: risk to people and the environment, disposal, trade dependencies, recycling potential, raw material deposits, and substitutability. With the help of their assessments, the learners should argue whether the use of end devices with lithium-ion batteries (e.g., a tablet) is sustainable.

Evaluation

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Learning with and about electronic devices, as well as the issue of sustainability, is reflected in the evaluation questions. This work focuses on motivation and situational interest by learning with iPads and about iPads.
To evaluate the AR-LS, evaluation questions (EQ) and hypotheses (H) must be established:
EQ 1.

What is the effect of preservice teacher learning with iPads (iPads as a learning tool) and about iPads (iPads as a learning object) on situational interest?

EQ 2.

What is the effect of preservice teacher learning with iPads (iPads as a learning tool) and about iPads (iPads as a learning object) on students’ perception of learning?

EQ 3.

What changes should be made to the AR-LS before it is given to students?

EQ 4.

Does learning with iPads (iPads as a learning tool) and about iPads (iPads as a learning object) positively affect high school students’ situational interest?

EQ 5.

Does learning with iPads (iPads as a learning tool) and about iPads (iPads as a learning object) positively affect high school students’ perception of learning?

H1.

There will be a positive effect on situational interest from learning with and via iPads.

H2.

Learning with and via iPads will have a positive impact on students’ perception of learning.

Methods

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Context and Participants

This research study was conducted from winter 2021 to spring 2023 in Germany within 3 h student laboratory sessions with preservice teachers and secondary school students. The AR-LS was tested with preservice teachers during the teaching module “Experimental Teaching of Chemistry”. High school students were recruited for AR-LS by their teachers. A total of 38 preservice teachers and 55 secondary students participated voluntarily. For high school students, their parents gave their consent for their children to participate in this study and to collect, analyze, evaluate, and publish data about their views. No identifying information was recorded or scanned to allow participants to reidentify themselves. Data were collected in German, and the presented results have been translated into English.

Data Collection

The study used qualitative and quantitative data collection. Informal feedback data were collected during the whole AR-LS with the preservice teachers. Additionally, secondary students and preservice teachers filled out a postquestionnaire after the 3 h laboratory sessions to contribute to the evaluation. No optimizing for the data collection was used, and the data were analyzed using the software Excel.

Questionnaire

The questionnaires contain only a small number of items, as test participants must complete a 3 h learning program beforehand. This period carries the risk that they may already be cognitively exhausted and not accurately or seriously complete the questionnaire. The feedback questionnaire consists of four-point Likert items and open-ended questions (only for preservice teachers).
The questionnaire for preservice teachers includes five items on situational interest, five items on learning, and two open-ended questions regarding what went well and areas for improvement.
The questionnaire for students includes 10 items on interest and 14 items on learning based on the questionnaire of the preservice teachers and the questionnaire on current motivation by Rheinberg, Vollmeyer, and Burns. (41)

Results and Discussion

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EQ 1

Regarding situational interest, it is noteworthy that the item “I do not find it interesting” received a disagreement rate of 71% (Figure 5). This item was formulated in a way that sought rejection instead of agreement, to facilitate cross-verification. More than two-thirds of preservice teachers showed interest in further engaging with the subject matter in the hold component (72%) and would be happy to see AR used more frequently in chemistry lessons (92%). This interest is further supported by the students’ statements about what they liked. Among these, “flexibility of representations and steps” (9 mentions), pace (8 mentions), and process visualization (animation)/insights that are otherwise not possible (9 mentions) were mentioned most frequently.

Figure 5

Figure 5. Preservice teacher (N = 38) situational interest.

The distribution of frequencies in Figure 5 demonstrates the situational interest of preservice teachers, with agreement or mostly agreement being indicated. Preservice teachers welcome the increased use of AR in chemistry lessons. This indicates that preservice teachers can develop interest through the introduction and implementation of this AR-LS. This action could manifest in the creation of AR content for their teaching or the utilization of existing AR materials in chemistry lessons. In terms of the impact on student interest, a clear tendency emerges, showing that situational interest can be evoked.

EQ 2

92% of preservice teachers agreed or agreed mostly to engage with the content at their own pace (Figure 6). This autonomy was further emphasized in the written feedback, mentioned 9 times, and linked to the option to choose the presentation and sequence of tasks. A majority of preservice teachers (92%) expressed a preference for 3D representation over 2D, and 84% found the design of the AR-LS conducive to understanding. This was associated with statements such as “more exciting than the textbook” (2 mentions), “AR as an exciting factor” (2 mentions), “I liked the AR” (8 mentions), and specifically the “representation of processes” (9 mentions) and the “rotatability of components” (2 mentions). Preservice teachers at least mostly agree or agree that the information in the AR-LS is helpful (86%) and easy to understand (84%).

Figure 6

Figure 6. Preservice teacher (N = 38) learning.

In the written feedback, clarity was mentioned five times, and the synergy between information and visuals was explicitly emphasized once, along with the micro- and macrolevels mentioned twice.
The impact of the AR-LS on preservice teachers’ learning was characterized by a strong consensus on its comprehensibility, enhanced representation, and autonomy. The information provided in the AR-LS was perceived as helpful and easily comprehensible.

EQ 3

Fifteen preservice teachers provided written feedback, expressing that they see room for improvement in the use of AR-LS. Specifically, eight of them pointed out the readability of the text, suggesting that it could be improved by implementing a zoom function to enhance legibility. Six participants mentioned improving the chosen real-world anchor for the digital content (technical term: “trigger”), as the digital AR content was not perceived as fixed enough on the intended place in the real world. Additionally, four preservice teachers mentioned the need to modernize the content itself. Three participants highlighted the potential for improvement in terms of interactivity, specifically mentioning the inclusion of stop-pull buttons or back buttons. Other individual suggestions included incorporating more tools, reducing similar attempts, clarifying the instructions for station 2, providing preparation for the AR-LS, and adding audio.
Based on this feedback, adjustments were made to the implementation of AR-LS with the students. Most of the problems were resolved. The disassembly instructions were digitized, and to enhance clarity, the screws and devices were highlighted by using colors. Additionally, an assembly guide was added so that the students could independently carry out station 1. The experimental instructions were revised and supplemented with additional digital content.

EQ 4

The high-school students were asked about the importance of recycling and sustainability. More than two-thirds of the students considered this topic important (85% recycling and 82% sustainability, Figure 7). However, when being asked more specifically, the response was not as clear-cut. Half of them (54%) partially agreed that they care about where the resources for their smartphones or iPads come from or under what conditions they are mined.

Figure 7

Figure 7. High school students’ (N = 55) situational interest.

In general, 93% of participants at least mostly agreed that they found the design of the AR-LS interesting, while the rest did not provide any answers. More differentiated responses indicate that learning with iPads (60%) was more interesting than learning about iPads (55%). But overall, at least over 80% mostly agreed that it was interesting (84% with/86% about). At least 63% of the students mostly agreed that their interest was not because the AR-LS had a reward, and 55% mostly agreed that their interest was because it was something new.
One question inquired whether the students would like to work on more AR-LS like this one on iPads. This was indicated by 87% of the students as at least “mostly agree”.
The described observation could be referred to as a “discrepancy between attitudes and behavior”. It shows that students consider sustainability and recycling important. However, this attitude is not as evident when it comes to their own actions regarding smartphones and iPads. This could suggest that while these terms are familiar to the students, they do not see a direct connection to their own behavior. However, they are interested in working on more AR-LS like this on iPads, which could raise awareness about the raw materials used in iPads and contribute significantly to sustainability education.
It is worth highlighting the positive impact on students’ situational interest in learning with and about iPads. The feedback regarding the design and the hold question about the general use of AR-LS indicate that such AR-LS have the potential to create interesting learning scenarios, not solely because they are new. These more differentiated responses also confirm the effects hinted at by the preservice teachers themselves.

EQ 5

The perceived learning assessed through two items (U in Figure 8) indicates that over 85% of the students mostly agreed that the content and language of the course were perceived as comprehensible (Figure 8). In response to the items regarding challenge C, 72% of the students disagreed that the AR-LS was boring, but 50% of the students perceived the design of the course as challenging. There was also disagreement regarding the challenges of learning with and using iPads (82%). Additionally, over 50% viewed the challenge of a new AR-LS positively to push themselves. Over 80% of the students reported no fear of not understanding (NU) everything correctly, and an even larger percentage, 92%, indicated they were not afraid of embarrassing themselves. Regarding feeling pressured in the AR-LS, 17% mostly agreed. Regarding the likelihood of success (LoS), it is evident that even the fact that the AR-LS was new, the students trusted themselves to succeed (87%). Over 90% of the students believed in learning something with iPads (91%) and having learned something in the AR-LS (92%). 71% of students at least “mostly agreed” that they felt capable of handling the difficulty of this AR-LS.

Figure 8

Figure 8. High school students learning (n = 55). (AR-LS: Augmented reality learning scenario; U: understanding; C: challenging; NU: not understanding; LoS: likelihood of success).

The impact of the AR-LS on students’ learning is evident in their strong perception of understanding, resistance to challenges and failure, and affirmation of their perceived likelihood of success. Challenges play a crucial role in the learning process, but difficulties only arise when they undermine students’ likelihood of success and make them feel incapable of overcoming the challenge. Therefore, items assessing students’ likelihood of success of their competence and feelings of self-assurance in dealing with the new AR-LS were included in the questionnaire, which clearly showed a positive response from most students.

Conclusion

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In this paper, we describe a novel approach for focusing on ICT in chemistry classrooms. Our approach goes beyond using a tablet solely as a learning tool; instead, we integrated it as the object of learning itself. To achieve this, we designed an Augmented Reality Learning System (AR-LS) within the context of education for sustainable development. In AR-LS, students explore how specific features of the iPad are produced, operated, may be substituted, or recycled through chemical processes. The primary goal of the AR-LS is to provide students with insights into sustainability-related aspects of ICT use, empowering them to make environmentally conscious decisions.
Moreover, the presented AR-LS can be utilized in a simplified form outside of well-equipped laboratories or formal school settings, thanks to AR. Consequently, it offers a practical means to integrate various types of chemistry experiments into lessons, including those deemed too hazardous for school environments or inaccessible for other reasons.
The results of the evaluation study demonstrated a positive effect on situational interest and perceived learning among preservice teachers. Additionally, the data highlighted areas for improvement, which were largely addressed. The data from the high school students indicated that the AR-LS had a positive impact on their perception of chemistry learning. Positive influence on the situational interest was observed in utilizing AR content, and the students exhibited a high level of perceived understanding of the course material and language. The students displayed a positive likelihood of success with the new AR-LS. They were confident in their ability to overcome challenges and achieve success. Therefore, the low values regarding fears related to challenges and failure can be explained.
Despite limitations in this research, such as a solely German context, two specific age groups, and a single topic of instruction, encouraging signs were evident. Both students and preservice teachers found the AR-LS to be an engaging learning environment.
Additional research and curriculum enhancement are necessary if we are to create more instances of this approach. This would afford us a more profound understanding of the application of AR in education for sustainable development (specifically, learning with and about tablet computers), focusing on student motivation and successful learning outcomes.

Data Availability

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The AR-Trigger (PDF) is available here: https://www.chemie.uni-konstanz.de/ag-huwer/forschung/downloads/augmented-reality/ (accessed on May 30, 2023).

Author Information

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  • Corresponding Authors
    • Sabrina Syskowski - Department of Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University of Konstanz, 78464 Konstanz, GermanyChair of Science Education, Thurgau University of Education, 8280 Kreuzlingen, Switzerland Email: [email protected]
    • Chantal Lathwesen - Department of Biology and Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany Email: [email protected]
    • Canan Kanbur - Department of Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University of Konstanz, 78464 Konstanz, GermanyChair of Science Education, Thurgau University of Education, 8280 Kreuzlingen, Switzerland Email: [email protected]
    • Antje Siol - Department of Biology and Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany Email: [email protected]
    • Ingo Eilks - Department of Biology and Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University Bremen, 28359 Bremen, GermanyDepartment of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Universitas Negeri Malang, 65145 Malang, IndonesiaOrcidhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-0453-4491 Email: [email protected]
    • Johannes Huwer - Department of Chemistry, Institute for Science Education, University of Konstanz, 78464 Konstanz, GermanyChair of Science Education, Thurgau University of Education, 8280 Kreuzlingen, SwitzerlandOrcidhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-4271-7822 Email: [email protected]
    • Notes
      The authors declare no competing financial interest.

    Acknowledgments

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    We thank the German Federal Trust for the Environmental for the generous funding of the project under grant 34467/01/02. We furthermore thank Philipp Weiß and Catherine Barth for their contribution to the project as part of their M.Sc. thesis.

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    • Abstract

      Figure 1

      Figure 1. iPad is dismantled virtually. The real iPad is placed on the trigger image. Upon scanning of the Zapcode, the real iPad is augmented with a virtual iPad that appears in the same place. By pressing the middle blue button on the right side, the iPad is dismantled. This view also allows us to turn (“drehen”) and turn back (“zurückdrehen”) the structural components of the iPad via the rectangular blue buttons in the AR. The right top button leads to the specific component AR-LS, in this case, aluminum manufacturing by fused salt electrolysis.

      Figure 2

      Figure 2. Augmented world map: Upon scanning the Zapcode, ten countries are displayed on the world map. By pressing one of the country’s names, a text box appears with information about the country-specific production quantities of lithium and cobalt in tons.

      Figure 3

      Figure 3. Lithium-ion battery is virtually dismantled. Upon scanning the Zapcode, a virtual iPad appears. By pressing the last blue button on the left side, the lithium-ion battery appears and can be dismantled by pressing the button “Sprengansicht”. The button underneath allows students to see how a lithium cell is constructed on the iPad. Processes at the particle level during the charging and discharging of the battery are accessible via the right button in the bottom bar (Figure 4).

      Figure 4

      Figure 4. Augmented discharging of the lithium-ion battery at the submicroscopic level. The charging (“Laden”) or discharging (“Entladen”) can be simulated in the submicroscopic model and the migration of the ions can be observed. The reaction equations for the half-cells, as well as the corresponding explanations, can be called up by clicking on the button “Symbolebene”. The intercalation in the graphite lattice can be viewed as a 3D model by pressing the “Graphitgitter” button.

      Figure 5

      Figure 5. Preservice teacher (N = 38) situational interest.

      Figure 6

      Figure 6. Preservice teacher (N = 38) learning.

      Figure 7

      Figure 7. High school students’ (N = 55) situational interest.

      Figure 8

      Figure 8. High school students learning (n = 55). (AR-LS: Augmented reality learning scenario; U: understanding; C: challenging; NU: not understanding; LoS: likelihood of success).

    • References

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      This article references 41 other publications.

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