OpenReal (proof of concept)

OpenReal (proof of concept): Learning in the real world


How can we augment learning at home, at work, and in labs, workshops, or other professional environments with digital material in order to render learning at The Open University more engaging, authentic, apprehensible, and accessible?


Historically the OU has pioneered the use of Personal Computers and then Smart Phones in distance education.

Augmented Reality (AR) technology is now approaching the point of maturity (e.g. IEEE standard, new hardware like Hololens), affordability (e.g. spatial computing on Android/iOS), and public mindshare (e.g. forthcoming products by Magic Leap and Apple) that now allow integrating practice- and deep-understanding-oriented learning at scale into OU curricula, complementing existing endeavours, and existing learning media. Supported by novel instructional design models for Wearable and Augmented Reality Computing, this new technology opportunity has been shown to foster engagement, satisfaction, and memorability, while reducing error and misunderstanding.

This series of proof of concept prototypes across faculties will help to evidence what is possible with this new learning technology, preparing a potential new strategy for the OU to the lead the sector on open real, learning in the real world.

The role of IET

Build an app and a range of ten different proof-of-concept AR learning experiences, which deliver digital information registered directly in 3D in the physical surroundings of the learner, thus embedding learning in the real-world context where competence is later put to action. Guide step-by-step through learning activities and provide theory in situ where the knowledge is applied.


  • Attraction and retention: Further expand attractiveness of OU courses to younger audiences by adding much needed market edge.
  • Satisfaction: Increase learner satisfaction through increased user experience (in particular: potential for gains in hedonic quality and playfulness, intuitiveness, gains in productivity, improved task tracking, increased precision).
  • Passion: Deploy passion-fostering technologies to engage students in learning
  • Innovation: Develop new ways of delivering learning
  • Recall: Positive effects on memory and retention of information
  • Employability: Provide pathways for re- and upskilling to maintain and increase employability, with additional applications in further education possible.

Research programmes


  • The Open University