A Learning Framework For Augmented And Virtual Reality

A Learning Framework For Augmented And Virtual Reality

contributed by Christine Lion-Bailey, Jesse Lubinsky, and Micah Shippee, PhD

Education is in a state of constant change because the world is constantly changing.

With these changes have come advancements in technology that are bringing opportunities to educators and students that allow for experiences previously considered unthinkable.  As tools become more accessible to students and with increased educator understanding, we start to see instructional shifts that better benefit learners. Perhaps no technologies have provided as much excitement around these shifts than Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

The term Extended Reality (XR) is used to describe AR, VR, and all realities on the mixed reality spectrum. XR can be leveraged to provide students with in-the-moment experiences that relate to their immediate surroundings. With XR, we have the abilities to deploy interactive museum pieces and models and transport students to locations relevant to our content of study. We can also support student identification of elements and objects around them and throughout the world. These types of learning opportunities allow students to maintain an unprecedented sense of mindfulness toward their learning context, developing meaning at a whole new level.

To help people adopt new technologies like XR we need a way to describe research-based, best practice-tested applications. The XR ABC Framework serves as a guide intended to focus our conversation around effective and efficient uses of XR in education.

There are many reasons to use Virtual Reality in the classroom and it is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and enthusiasm of students trying something new, but the most powerful learning experiences are in the conversation that follows the tool use. We believe giving a platform that provides a voice for XR-experienced educators is paramount. The XR ABC Framework provides a common language for instructional practice around XR while comprehensively illustrating objectives and standards which can be used to communicate the effectiveness of instruction.

The XR ABC Framework has evolved from both research-based and best practice-tested cases which demonstrate how XR can be used to improve learning and learning outcomes.

The XR ABC Framework

In XR, and classroom software solutions, we often talk about consuming and creating as two levels of interactivity afforded by the technology. Through research and practice we have found that an area exists between these two levels that is a combination, or blend, of capabilities. The XR ABC framework describes areas of interactivity in XR as Absorb, Blend, and Create.

Source Image:


Absorb means to use readily available apps and experiences to engage students in virtual field trips and observations of 3D models. Absorb experiences support increased understanding and recall. 

  • AR Absorb experiences observe content that augments or improves, the learning experience with minimal interactivity. To experience AR in an Absorb manner means to use it to add to our experience in a somewhat simple and static manner which differs from Blend and Create where we are manipulating or creating objects in AR. These experiences can be accessed through AR targets, geographic locations, or by apps which use devices. The applications of AR Absorb are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). The learning curve is low for AR Absorb and almost every student and educator can take advantage of the benefits they offer right away. 
  • VR Absorb experiences allow users to visit distant and theoretical places to see things with their own eyes from the first-person perspective. VR Absorb experiences are WYSIWYG with a low interactivity level. We should not dismiss these types of experiences, simple VR Absorb field trips, can be incredibly powerful when paired with meaningful conversations and thoughtful instructional delivery.

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Blend means to modify existing content by employing available apps and experiences to modify or move objects in order to apply, analyze, and evaluate content. Blend experiences are not truly creating, rather manipulating characters, blocks, etc., that are preloaded into the XR applications. Blend is the in-between state of consuming content while manipulating it, but not creating something entirely new. 

  • AR Blend learners have the opportunity to change the outcome of an experience while working within pre-existing content.  It is a step beyond AR absorb, because there is manipulation and change taking place in the experience. It is engaging for the learner while intuitive to those who are not ready for the concept of creation.
  • VR Blend is the state of consuming content while manipulating it, but not creating something entirely new.  In VR, the concept of Blend affords learners the opportunity to change the immersive experience’s outcome while working within pre-existing content. VR Blend allows users the opportunity to engage in their VR experience in order to have choice in a more meaningful and personalized encounter. 


Create means to develop new content by leveraging available tools to synthesize and develop new experiences. Create experiences are used to truly demonstrate an understanding of content through the construction of XR experiences, objects, stories etc., that did not previously exist within the XR applications.

  • AR Create learning experiences brings the learner from simply consuming content to creating it. For learners to create their own content, educators are required to have a different mindset toward the learning process. When educators design activities for their students with thought and intention, they are often elevating the types of thinking that their students are required to do and, in turn, creating more impactful learning experiences, for students to create these experiences themselves is learning at a much higher level.
  • VR Create is a game-changer for students since it allows them to use their ideas and imagination to demonstrate real learning and understanding. Students become owners of learning, architects of content and developers of brave new worlds. 

It is very important not to think about the XR ABC Framework as three levels of mastery where we must reach ‘Create’ and only use that in our instructional practice. Each of the areas has the potential to positively impact instruction when leveraged appropriately. For example, taking students on a virtual field trip (VR – Absorb) can be the perfect experience aligned with your class lesson objectives.

In this example having the students create a fictional world may not be as meaningful. Over time we will find more and more high-quality experiences will become accessible, while they may not be used presently in our instruction, it is very important that we keep an eye on these so that we are ready to use them in the near future.

Through the use of the XR ABC framework we have a common language to describe what is happening with XR in our classrooms. The various areas of interactivity found in XR, both now and in the future, promise to magnify positive instructional experiences. By referring to these experiences as framed in Absorb, Blend, and Create we have a common language to dive deep into harnessing the power of these exciting new technologies in our classrooms.


The XR ABC Framework was developed for educators in order to provide context on how to adopt augmented and virtual reality technologies into teaching and learning experiences. Developed from the voices of experienced educators and from research-based examples, the framework illustrates how XR can be used to improve teaching and learning outcomes while providing us with a common language to guide our growth and meaningful adoption of XR technologies together in education.

Providing educators with this common language and a global understanding of how the adoption of XR shifts the instructional paradigm, we are not only best preparing our learners for the future, but also leveling the playing field for all global learners so that the physical walls, or lack thereof, of schools and instructional institutes are no longer barriers to education. 

The beauty of having a framework available to educators for this type of technology adoption is that it provides them with an opportunity to be thoughtful, intentional, and reflective about the design of instructional experiences for their students. As educators begin to evaluate the effectiveness of using augmented and virtual realities in their instruction, they can have a better understanding of the desired outcomes during the design phase of their lessons based on the aspect of the framework that they fall into.

With time, more accessibility to XR tools, and an increased understanding of how XR learning practices can engage learners in meaningful and purposeful educational experiences, the XR ABC Framework will become the common language that educators use to share and collaborate their delivery of instruction.

Christine Lion-Bailey, Jesse Lubinsky, and Micah Shippee, PhD are co-authors of the upcoming DBC Inc. release “Reality Bytes: Innovative Learning Using Augmented and Virtual Reality.” You can find out more about their work by signing up at Illustrations by Manuel S. Herrera. His work can be found at


What Is The 5E Model? A Definition For Teachers

What Is The 5E Model? A Definition For Teachers

contributed by Lesley University Online

This is sponsored content. Sponsored or not, we never publish any content we don’t feel meaningfully contributes to innovation and growth in your teaching. You can read more about our sponsored content policy here.

When choosing an instructional model, teachers seek strategies that help students gain a complete understanding of new concepts. They aim to engage students, motivate them to learn, and guide them toward skill development. One of the ways to do that is by incorporating inquiry-based approaches like the 5E Model, which is grounded in active learning.

Research suggests that there is a set order of events that facilitates learning, known as a learning cycle. Educators J. Myron Atkin and Robert Karplus argued in 1962 that effective learning cycles involve three key elements: exploration, term introduction, and concept application.

“In their scheme, exploration allowed the learners to become interested in the subject at hand, raise questions, and identify points of dissatisfaction with their current understanding. Introduction of new ideas and terms, primarily by the instructor, but negotiated by both instructor and students, followed. Finally, concept application provided learners with opportunities within the classroom to apply their new ideas, try out their new understandings in novel contexts, and evaluate the completeness of their understanding,” according to Kimberly D. Tanner in the article “Order Matters: Using the 5E Model to Align Teaching With How People Learn.”

What Is The 5E Model?

The 5E Model, developed in 1987 by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, promotes collaborative, active learning in which students work together to solve problems and investigate new concepts by asking questions, observing, analyzing, and drawing conclusions. 

Theoretical Foundations

The findings of Atkin and Karplus directly informed the creation of the 5E Model, which focuses on allowing students to understand a concept over time through a series of established steps, or phases. These phases include Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. 

The 5E Model

The 5E Model, developed in 1987 by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, promotes collaborative, active learning in which students work together to solve problems and investigate new concepts by asking questions, observing, analyzing, and drawing conclusions. 

The 5E Model is based on the constructivist theory to learning, which suggests that people construct knowledge and meaning from experiences. By understanding and reflecting on activities, students are able to reconcile new knowledge with previous ideas. According to subject matter expert Beverlee Jobrack, “Educational movements, such as inquiry-based learning, active learning, experiential learning, discovery learning, and knowledge building, are variations of constructivism.”

In the classroom, constructivism requires educators to build inquiry, exploration, and assessment into their instructional approach. In many ways, this means the teacher plays the role of a facilitator, guiding students as they learn new concepts.

The 5E Model Explained

The following is an overview of the five phases of the 5E Model.


In the first phase of the learning cycle, the teacher works to gain an understanding of the students’ prior knowledge and identify any knowledge gaps. It is also important to foster an interest in the upcoming concepts so students will be ready to learn. Teachers might task students with asking opening questions or writing down what they already know about the topic.

This is also when the concept is introduced to students for the first time.


During the exploration phase, students actively explore the new concept through concrete learning experiences. They might be asked to go through the scientific method and communicate with their peers to make observations. This phase allows students to learn in a hands-on way.


This is a teacher-led phase that helps students synthesize new knowledge and ask questions if they need further clarification. For the Explain phase to be effective, teachers should ask students to share what they learned during the Explore phase before introducing technical information in a more direct manner, according to “The 5E Instructional Model: A Learning Cycle Approach for Inquiry-Based Science Teaching.” This is also when teachers utilize video, computer software, or other aides to boost understanding.


The elaboration phase of the 5E Model focuses on giving students space to apply what they’ve learned. This helps them to develop a deeper understanding. Teachers may ask students to create presentations or conduct additional investigations to reinforce new skills. This phase allows students to cement their knowledge before evaluation.


The 5E Model allows for both formal and informal assessment. During this phase, teachers can observe their students and see whether they have a complete grasp of the core concepts. It is also helpful to note whether students approach problems in a different way based on what they learned. Other helpful elements of the Evaluate phase include self-assessment, peer-assessment, writing assignments, and exams.

Application & Effectiveness

The 5E Model is most effective when students are encountering new concepts for the very first time because there is opportunity for a complete learning cycle.

According to co-creator Rodger W. Bybee, the 5E Model is best used in a unit of two to three weeks in which each phase is the basis for one or more distinct lessons. “Using the 5Es model as the basis for a single lesson decreases the effectiveness of the individual phases due to shortening the time and opportunities for challenging and restructuring of concepts and abilities—for learning,” Bybee explains. And if too much time is spent on each phase, the structure isn’t as effective and students may forget what they’ve learned.

The following research findings illustrate the positive impact of the 5E Model in classrooms:

One study showed that the 5E Model caused “a significantly better acquisition of scientific conceptions…than traditional instruction,” according to Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education.

One study found that the 5E Instructional Model significantly increased learning and retention of science lessons.

The International Journal on New Trends in Education and Their Implications found the 5E learning cycle model positively affects student achievement and the permanence of knowledge.

The 5E Model allows educators to create a unique learning experience for students. Teachers who can incorporate instructional models like the 5E Model into their classrooms help students build a strong foundation of knowledge through active participation.

Lesley University’s online Master of Education programs equip teachers with the knowledge and tools to effectively educate students in the modern classroom. With specialized degrees in mathematics educationscience in education, and more, Lesley offers opportunities for educators to deepen their understanding of current approaches and hone their teaching skills and assessment strategies.

Learn more about Lesley’s online education programs.


How To Teach With The Concept Attainment Model

concept-attainment-exampleHow To Teach With The Concept Attainment Model

by TeachThought Staff

In 1956, psychologist Jerome Bruner published a book called “A Study of Thinking.”

Being a psychologist, Bruner was interested in cognitive processing–how people think, and how those tendencies might be used to inform teaching and learning processes. He developed a new way of introducing learners to new concepts called Concept Attainment.

See Deductive Reasoning Logic Puzzle: School Project Edition ($1)

What Is Concept Attainment?

The image above from this document via Beyond Monet/Barrie Bennet/Carol Rolheiser is a useful example of how Concept Attainment works.

It can be thought of as game of ‘find the rule.’  Concept Attainment is a “backwards conceptualizing” approach to making sense of new ideas. It is a teaching strategy characterized (in terms of thinking patterns of the learner) by “a pattern of decisions in the acquisition, retention, and utilization of information that serves to meet certain objectives” (Bruner et al 1956).

Linda Neff at Northern Arizona University adds that Concept Attainment is a “close relative to inductive thinking (Joyce and Weil 1967:15), (and) focuses on the decision-making and categorization processes leading up to the creation and understanding of a concept.”

Neff also explains that there are several advantages to this approach, including learning “how to examine a concept from a number of perspectives, learning how to sort out relevant information”, the benefit of seeing multiple examples of ideas, and maybe most importantly, moving beyond mere concept–definition association.

This allows for the idea to be seen in its native context, and a more authentic and fuller definition to emerge.

How Does Concept Attainment Work?

In the concept attainment process, new ideas are introduced–and defined by students–inductively through the “act(s) of categorization” (Bruner, Goodnow, and Austin 1956:244). Students see attributes, examples and non-examples, form theories, and then test those theories against the data given until they are able to able to name the idea.

This reverses the typical process of introducing an idea (e.g., gravity) by narrowly defining it (e.g., the force that attracts a body toward another physical body having mass). The Concept Attainment process requires learners to focus on attributes, categories, and relationships rather than simply mirroring an idea with a definition.

In the STEM field–one marked by change, uncertainty, and new (and often unfamiliar) ideas–this conceptual approach is a tidy fit for teaching.

What Are The Benefits Of Concept Attainment?

California Lutherhan University explains the benefits of Concept Attainment:

“Concept attainment is designed to clarify ideas and to introduce aspects of content. It engages students into formulating a concept through the use of illustrations, word cards or specimens called examples.

Students who catch onto the idea before others are able to resolve the concept and then are invited to suggest their own examples, while other students are still trying to form the concept. For this reason, concept attainment is well suited to classroom use because all thinking abilities can be challenged throughout the activity.

With experience, children become skilled at identifying relationships in the word cards or specimens. With carefully chosen examples, it is possible to use concept attainment about how to teach teach almost any concept in all subjects.”

Examples Of Concept Attainment

Also from California Lutherhan University, the following is an example of how to Teach Concept Attainment in math.

  • “First the teacher chooses a concept to developed. (i.e. Math facts that equal 10)
  • Begin by making list of both positive “yes” and negative ” no” examples: The examples are put onto sheets of paper or flash cards.
  • Positive Examples: (Positive examples contain attributes of the concept to be taught) i.e. 5+5, 11-1, 10X1, 3+4+4, 12-2, 15-5, (4X2)+2, 9+1
  • Negative Examples: (for examples choose facts that do not have 10 as the answer) i.e. 6+6, 3+3, 12-4, 3X3, 4X4, 16-5, 6X2, 3+4+6, 2+(2X3), 16-10
  • Designate one area of the chalkboard for the positive examples and one area for negative examples. A chart could be set up at the front of the room with two columns – one marked YES and the other marked NO.
  • Present the first card by saying, “This is a YES.” Place it under the appropriate column. i.e. 5+5 is a YES
  • Present the next card and say, “This is a NO.” Place it under the NO column. i.e. 6+6 is a NO
  • Repeat this process until there are three examples under each column.
  • Ask the class to look at the three examples under the YES column and discuss how they are alike. (i.e. 5+5, 11-1, 2X5) Ask “What do they have in common?”
  • For the next tree examples under each column, ask the students to decide if the examples go under YES or NO.
  • At this point, there are 6 examples under each column. Several students will have identified the concept but it is important that they not tell it out loud to the class. They can however show that they have caught on by giving an example of their own for each column about how to teach. At this point, the examples are student-generated. Ask the class if anyone else has the concept in mind. Students who have not yet defined the concept are still busy trying to see the similarities of the YES examples. Place at least three more examples under each column that are student-generated.
  • Discuss the process with the class. Once most students have caught on, they can define the concept. Once they have pointed out that everything under the YES column has an answer of 10, then print a new heading at the top of the column (10 Facts). The print a new heading for the NO column (Not 10 Facts).”

image attribution Beyond Monet/Barrie Bennet/Carol Rolheiser; How To Teach With The Concept Attainment Model; What Is Concept Attainment?

Learning Models

Me Learning: A Student-Centered Learning Model

meLearningcropped-fiIntroducing MeLearning: A Student-Centered Learning Model

by Terry Heick

ed note: This post has been updated and republished from a previous post

A couple of years ago, I developed a kind of self-directed learning model.

At the time, I thought of it as a way to support students in understanding how to learn. It was designed to let students identify–on their own–what to learn as the critical core for understanding how to learn, while also requiring them to design when and with and through what means–learning strategies, technology, alone or together, project-based learning vs academic study, etc.

Teaching students to think and learn isn’t simple–nor is it a matter of process. This is a concept that can get complicated in a hurry as we run into issues of semantics and form–self-regulated learning vs self-directed learning vs heutagogy, and so on.

Beginning with a single student and extending outwards as a matter of interdependence, legacy, and ultimately citizenship is an ambitious and “costly” undertaking. In most public schools, choosing what to learn and why isn’t a big priority. The what is decided by Common Core, the when by curriculum maps and pacing guides–and all of it by anyone but the student. Which kind of makes sense–how can the student choose what to learn when they have no idea what’s out there?

But that they don’t is also a symptom of the problem. Learning first is, always, a matter of self. Who am I? What do I know? What is required of me by those I love? What do I need, want, and dream of? How do I relate to the world around me? Through what means, ways, and possibilities?

Without that as a context, the “learning” is merely academic training.


The Industry Of Learning

The current education form–aptly labeled as industrial–is very good at certain things: alignment, distribution, measurement, data collection, and reporting. These are necessities when trying to get thousands of schools and tens of thousands of teachers and tens of millions of students “on the same page.”

But it is problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it decenters students. Students must adjust to it, rather than the reverse. When 70,000 fans are entering a stadium, there is a required sacrifice of personalization. Scale, pace, and efficiency are the goals, and set the tone for everything. When you enter someone’s home–or a classroom–it can’t be that way.

So then, something like “Me Learning” might be useful in seeing what a student-centered learning experience might look like.

The Goal

The goal of the model is a student-centered learning experience that yields self-knowledge.

The System & The Parts

As a system, it is designed to begin and end with the student and their identifying their own knowledge demands.

There are two sides to the model–Wisdom and Experience.

The key question of the Wisdom side is, “What’s worth understanding?”, and the key question of the Experience side is “What’s worth doing as a result?”

WISDOM: Choosing what’s worth understanding, and is broken down into two parts–Content and Design.


This is a knowledge category–where I choose something to study or learn based on one of the five following ideas.

1. Citizenship: I want or need to learn something based on some matter of family, citizenship, community, or legacy I am a part of

2. Curiosity: I want to know more about something.

3. Priority & Need: There is, for whatever cause or reason, a more general sense of priority for me to know or be able to do something.

4. Creativity & Expression: As a matter of pure creativity and self-expression, I want to learn about something.

5. Academic Need: As a matter of academic performance–a test, certification, or related external benchmark that relates to something I want.


How should I design my work? This is a category that helps better understand the nature of my work–a series of checks for my ideas.

1. Quality Criteria: What should the quality criteria of my work be? What standards? How will I know if it’s “good enough”?

2. Scale: What is the best scale for my work? What scale will allow me to do my best work with the resources and knowledge I have?

3. Duration: How long should my work “take”?

4. Depth: How deep should I go? How complex should I get?

5. Purpose & Function: What goal makes sense for me? What should my work “do”?

EXPERIENCE: Choosing what’s worth doing, and is broken down into two parts–Connectivism and Learning Frameworks.


Who should I connect to, work with, and consider a primary audience for my work? Who can help me, and who can I help?

  1. Collaborators: Who has the ideas, resources, or affection to share in my work?
  2. Audience: Who wants or needs to know or receive the product of what I do?
  3. Mentors: Who has done something like this in the past and can support me somehow?
  4. Roles & Perspectives: What roles is it possible that I take? What do people do in the “real world” in these situations?
  5. Compelling Models: What’s already out there that I can study and learn from?

Learning Frameworks

What approaches to my learning might I take?Below are five possibilities, but many more exist.

  1. Model-Based Learning: Learning through the study and subsequent iteration, transfer, or mashing of existing models.
  2. Inquiry-Based Learning: Learning through a formal system of inquiry.
  3. Project-Based Learning: A process of learning facilitated by the design and execution of a project.
  4. Challenge-Based Learning: An approach to learning that is a mix of PBL and problem-solving.
  5. Maker Ed: Learning by a hands-on approach to making

The Student Agreement

This is where student clarify exactly what there plans are. This should be shared with a teacher, family, collaborators, mentors–anyone that can help the student narrow, broaden, deepen, simplify, or otherwise improve their plan and execution of learning.

Similar to our recent Principles of Genius Hour, the end result should be a student plan for their own learning. A few simple examples could be:

My plan is to:

To study _______ (topic) by ______ (learning framework) for _____ (number of hours or days)

To make a _______ (authentic product) for _______  (audience) for _______ (desired effect)

To change ________ (social challenge) by ________ (verb) with _________ (collaborators)

To design a _______ (product) using______ (technology) for use by _________ (audience)

Learning How To Learn: A Model; gif attribution Jon Durr Photography; Introducing Me Learning: A Student-Centered Learning Model

Learning Models

The Access Model: A 1:1 Framework For Teaching With Technology

The Access Model: A 1:1 Framework For Teaching With Technology

by Terry Heick

The Access Model is a framework to provide guidance to curriculum designers, policymakers, administrators, committees, and teachers in designing 1:1 teaching and learning resources. It is based on a strength of technology, specifically laptops, iPads and other tablets, BYOD Programs and more.

  • In the Access Model, technology provides students with 1:1 access to the people, content channels, models, and instant feedback.
  • In most circumstances, this access is ideally asynchronous and self-directed.
  • All technology doesn’t need to be the same–one student can use a smartphone while the other uses a Chromebook, for example. What does need to be uniform is the access mentioned above.
  • It makes little sense to use technology to provide a learning experience similar to the one provided in its absence. This makes both the technology’s performance and the learning experience clumsy and ineffective.
  • A key factor in teaching with technology that–is to rethink the learning process using the potential provided by both 1:1 screen access, and the mobility and personalization they allow.

Piece 1: Students have access to authentic networks 

Through apps like reddit, twitter, 500px, Deviantart, and Quora, students have access to digital communities dedicated to niche topics–e.g., equestrian viral microbiology rather than “science,” or “Use of drones to destroy Constitutional freedom” rather than “Social Studies.”

This provides an organic and affectionate source of content, questions, project ideas, and audiences for publishing thinking, not to mention lifelong membership for always-on learning.

Piece 2: Students have access to filtered and unfiltered digital channels

Through in-the-lap Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones and more, students can access both unfiltered (a YouTube channel on the beauty of mathematics) and filtered (digital textbooks, MOOCs, etc.) content.

Unfiltered doesn’t mean questionable content, but rather ideas and thinking that is packaged by someone other than the teacher–and thus requiring unique skills and understandings to navigate.

Piece 3: Students have access to inspiring models 

This is among the most powerful pieces of this framework–access to inspiring models of thought, creativity, design, engineering, performance, etc.

It is through the discovery, curation, and integration of models like these that students can be cognitively and artistically moved to self-direct their own creativity, design, engineering, and performance.

Stumbling on a full-on replica of Manhattan built with Minecraft (see below), the Sistine Chapel built through The Sandbox pixel art, or a YouTube channel dedicated to random acts of kindness can provide students models living and thinking they may not have ever seen before, building background knowledge and possibility.

Piece 4: Students have access to personalized feedback

With their own screens, tools, games, and automated learning software like fluency apps can provide students with instant feedback, visible progress, and guidance to self-direct their own learning in a way that one teacher among 30 students cannot.

This frees the teacher to design the use of these tools, the design of the visible progress, and the ability to self-direct.

The Access Model: A 1:1 Framework For Teaching Technology [Chromebooks, laptops, iPads & Other Tablets, smartphones, and more]