McGraw-Hill developing augmented-reality apps to improve learning outcomes in chemistry courses

With the help of an edtech startup, the publisher says it plans to build tools that immerse students in the material and cut failure rates.
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Publisher McGraw-Hill announced a new initiative Tuesday in collaboration with Michigan-based edtech startup Alchemie to co-develop augmented reality and 3D-learning tools for mobile devices to teach college-level chemistry.

Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the initiative aims to drive more active learning and to improve learning outcomes in introductory chemistry courses, which according to McGraw-Hill, often have high failure rates, especially among underserved student populations.

“Augmented reality enables students to immerse themselves into educational concepts, bringing these concepts closer to reality,” Scott Virkler, a McGraw-Hill executive told EdScoop. “Today’s students want to engage with advanced technologies that make the learning experience more dynamic and effective.”

The AR tools will be available on both Apple and Android mobile platforms, and will eventually be embedded into McGraw-Hill’s digital courseware and learning platforms. But having just entered the research and development phase of the project, McGraw-Hill said that the two organizations will co-develop and test mobile AR tools for the general chemistry curriculum over the next year.


“After this moves out of the R&D phase and into a fully developed product, we’ll continue our research to evaluate its effectiveness,” Virkler said. Eventually, these tools may help solve challenges in other course areas if they prove effective, he said.

McGraw-Hill said it hopes that this research will help millions of learners improve their success rates and broaden the array of students who pursue STEM careers. By going beyond memorizing facts, students will be able to develop an understanding of course content at a deeper and more conceptual level, the publisher said.

“We believe that with the right combination of technology, content and pedagogy this tool has the ability to have a significant impact on students in the future,” Virkler said. “AR does not replace other effective technology resources, but rather enhances the experience and the ability to reach a variety of different students with diverse learning modalities.”

Betsy Foresman

Written by Betsy Foresman

Betsy Foresman was an education reporter for EdScoop from 2018 through early 2021, where she wrote about the virtues and challenges of innovative technology solutions used in higher education and K-12 spaces. Foresman also covered local government IT for StateScoop, on occasion. Foresman graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 — go Frogs! — with a BA in journalism and psychology. During her senior year, she worked as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and moved back to the capital after completing her degree because, like Shrek, she feels most at home in the swamp. Foresman previously worked at Scoop News Group as an editorial fellow.

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