iPEAR Conference on Inclusive Peer Learning with Augmented Reality

by Ruth Maloszek, FAU, Germany.

The iPEAR Conference on Inclusive Peer Pedagogy and Augmented Reality took place recently (30 May – 1 June 2023) in Athens, bringing together educators, instructional designers, learning technologists and student teachers to share research, practical experience and pedagogical concepts on this special item of Technology Enhanced Teaching (TET) and to further develop the European community of practice in this field.

Participants discussed the iPEAR approach i.e. the practicability and future of combining a collaborative peer learning pedagogy with AR technology. Can teaching and collaborative learning with peers and augmented reality offer opportunities for empowering students and active learning and how? Does AR provide students with opportunities to create their own content and visualize the products of their collaborations? How can educators and their students make use of the iPEAR approach and initiate further investigation? And last not least, does the iPEAR approach offer opportunities for an inclusive collaborative learning experience?

The conference started with a welcome event and exhibition in the premises of the AKTO Art & Design College featuring the iPEAR research, educational AR platforms, and educational projects applying the iPEAR approach.

Day 2 saw presentations on “low-end AR”, meaning AR that can be displayed by means of applications uploaded on mobile devices. George Terzopoulos (AETMA Lab, International Hellenic University) introduced the iPEAR toolkit of educational AR tools that offers educators a hands-on guide into the technology of AR, introducing into tools that do not require coding skills. Anastasia Dimitra and Sissy Barakari (Greece), and Ruth Maloszek (Germany) reflected on the case studies that were organised at their institutions for the iPEAR project over the last 2 years. Most of these case studies were realised with low-end AR. On the “high-end” of AR, Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland (Norway) presented applications for HoloLens2 and Magic Leap (both head mounted devices), in the realm of anatomy proving that the field has grown significantly over the last couple of years. In a workshop on MirageXR, Mikhail Fominykh (Norway) introduced a groundbreaking procedural learning approach with AR avatars created and displayed with the help of a lens (HoloLens2) or even a mobile device, that can be applied for any field of knowledge from engineering to language learning. After introducing the concept of MirageXR, participants had the opportunity to slip into the role of the learner and work with the avatar they see. This part was restricted by the fact that participants not used to the use of a HoloLens2 had to first learn to use it in small exercises that everybody had fun with.

Presentations of the final day reflected on the personal educational praxis with AR and the iPEAR approach. Mikhail Fominykh (Norway) considered the added value of AR in language learning, inviting the audience to share their ideas of what is needed to successfully develop AR applications for language teaching. Iris Wunder (Germany) presented the iPEAR MOOC that introduced a wider audience of more than 600 participants to the iPEAR approach. MOOC graduate Natalia Sfika (Greece) presented her graduation project on teaching Ancient Greek with the help of AR, stimulating pupils’ motivation and engagement for a subject that they usually oppose as “old-fashioned”. Chryssa Themelis (Greece) took the audience into the philosophy behind the iPEAR approach, stressing the importance of visual and inclusive techniques for teaching and learning on all levels of formal education, including higher education.

A major step towards a community of practice was the introduction of XR4ED by Fotis Liarokapis (Cyprus), a project that offers a European reference platform for educational XR projects and that contributes to the further development of educational XR technology by creating a tool for educators using AR avatars. XR4ED also aims at formulating privacy and ethical standards that help the XR community out of an especially complicated issue.

The final discussion on the future of the iPEAR approach showed that educators were enthusiastic to apply this approach in their future teaching and to join the growing iPEAR community of practice. Iris Wunder from the coordinating Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany) informed participants that the iPEAR MOOC will be available for another three years after the end of the project, offering educators the opportunity to complete this asynchronous course designed for attendants with little time, as the workload does not exceed 8 hours (https://imoox.at/course/ipear&lang=en). Last not least, the iPEAR website will provide all guides necessary to apply the iPEAR approach in its repository (https://i-pear.eu/resources) from the end of the project in August 2023 until 2026 minimum.

A recording of the conference stream is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@aktocollege/streams. It includes all presentations held overthe two days that the conference was hosted by the office of the EU parliament in Athens. We express our gratitude to the generosity of the EU office and to the organising partner AKTO who created a suitable setting for this major multiplier event of the iPEAR project. Conference proceedings will be published in July/August as an open-source document on the website of the iPEAR project (https://i-pear.eu).


Dr Ruth Maloszek, Research associate and project coordinator at FAU, Germany