Augmented Reality (AR) is an umbrella term that describes interactive experiences that enhance the real world with software- or hardware-generated perceptual information. Essentially, it uses a device to overlay images or other content onto the real world. In this episode of HEP Talks, Luke Kemper talks with Phil Birchinall, Senior Director of Immersive Content at Discovery Education, about the concept of immersion and its connections with learning, and how AR can induce a state of immersion in pupils.

An immersive playground

Discovery Education, an edtech company which provides digital learning resources to millions of teachers around the world, has developed Sandbox AR, a free tool for schools to use. During the conversation, Phil talks about the experiences pupils and teachers have had with the tool, and how educators can use it to create immersive experiences in their schools.

You can see how Sandbox AR works in the video on this page.

You can download the Sandbox AR and TimePod apps for free on the Apple App Store.

And you can learn more about Discovery Education’s take on immersion and immersive learning on this website.

Pedagogy first, technology second

Though many examples of edtech can turn out to be short-lived fads, AR’s capacity for immersion, as well as constant updates to the hardware and software that support it, means that it may gain a more permanent place in classrooms, even those without much technological infrastructure. Phil acknowledged the digital divide, but mentioned that even one tablet can allow a class to experience the possibilities of AR.

Though it is always difficult for schools to decide on what type of edtech they want to spend their often-constrained budgets, Phil says it is important to remember one thing: “Pedagogy first, technology second.”

He says, “For us in the classroom, it’s always got to be about an outcome. What is the outcome you want? Can technology help you deliver that outcome? Can it do it better? Can it do it quicker? Can it do it to a deeper level? If the answer is yes, then technology might be the medium that you want to use to deliver that outcome.”

Listen to the full interview on HEP Talks

As always, we hope you enjoy listening to the full interview on HEP Talks, which can be found on AppleSpotifyGoogle, or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you have a topic that you’re interested in or want to talk about on our podcast, please send an email to and you might get featured on an upcoming episode. Stay tuned to HEP Talks!

About the Author:

Luke Kemper

Luke Kemper is Insight and Intelligence Lead at HEP. He recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Education, Globalisation and International Development. Before that, he worked for seven years as a university lecturer and high school teacher in China and Poland.

HEP Talks Podcast

The voice of Haringey Education Partnership. A weekly briefing on the latest stories in education news, deep diving into developments and interviews with leading voices in Education.

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