Education Innovation in Mexico: The Potential Role of Augmented Reality for Primary Education
By: Constanza Gómez Mont, Founder and Principal of C Minds; Daniela Rojas, Coordinator of Augmented Reality Research Projects at C Minds, and Nicte Cabañas, Communication Coordinator at C Minds.
Mexico’s primary education system faces a number of challenges, especially in relation to significant dropout rates and unsatisfactory levels of academic performance. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the adoption of a virtual education model in Mexico was very abrupt, accentuating many of these challenges. Moreover, efforts to address them were deemed inadequate or insufficient. These efforts not only led to an increase in dropout rates but also caused an educational setback of up to 3 years in the southern region of the country (Monroy-Gómez-Franco, López Calva, et al., 2021), when the country was already ranked last among the 35 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The current educational context is undoubtedly complex, and all possible tools should be used to mitigate some of these challenges. Technological adoption during the pandemic revealed that technology can be a useful tool to address some of these. However, digitalization must be more organized, meaning its adoption and use should have a planned, coherent focus aligned with the digital rights of children, in order to achieve beneficial outcomes for all.
With the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth of Nations of the United Kingdom through the British Embassy, C Minds published the report "The Potential of Augmented Reality for Primary Education in Mexico", a collaborative research that explores how this technology could be a tool to improve the outcomes of basic education by enhancing the engagement and interest of children. It also presents reflections and recommendations to inform future decisions of regulators and the educational system regarding the use of such technologies in primary education.
In this sense, the report discusses the context of education in Mexico and to what extent Augmented Reality (AR) can be a tool to support primary education through the analysis of information and use cases. It also explores how educational solutions could be created with this tool in Mexico.
The research, along with insights from 19 expert individuals consulted in various dialogue spaces (interviews and discussion tables) from different sectors (public, private, academia, and civil society), confirmed that AR drives student participation and interest, promoting personalized learning and interpersonal skills. Additionally, a meta-analysis of 10 years of research on experimental studies of AR and education (Hsin-Yi, Theerapong, et al., 2022) concluded the following: 1) students who learned through AR generally achieved better results; 2) AR works as a supporting tool to enhance knowledge and other skills, such as collaboration; and 3) it stimulates more positive responses in terms of motivation and attitude.
Furthermore, inclusive access was emphasized, which is crucial in a country with economic inequalities. While states like Mexico City, Sonora, and Baja California have internet coverage of over 85% of the population, Guerrero reaches 61%, Oaxaca 57%, and Chiapas 46% (INEGI, 2022). According to the Association of Internet (2022), while 95% of Internet users have a smartphone, 22% of the population, especially those in low-income communities, still lack access to these devices. However, AR is used sparingly in primary education classrooms globally and even less in Mexico. Based on research and the input of experts, our projecect provides, six recommendations to leverage AR for primary education in Mexico. Among the recommendations is the creation of highly specific solutions, considering cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and educational level aspects, given the digital inequalities in Mexico, with comprehensive training. The need for applications that do not require an internet connection is also highlighted, given the varying connectivity in the country. Moreover, aligning these applications with official educational strategies, considering practicality for teachers and students, and prioritizing digital ethics and safety, especially for minors, is recommended.
Moreover, it is stated that a holistic approach is necessary that not only focuses on developing AR-based solutions but also takes into account the training and education of all stakeholders in digital skills, including school staff, school leaders, legal guardians, and above all, minors.
Edgar Tapia, Regional Manager of Caligrafix México, pointed out that
"the adoption of technologies for primary education has increased considerably in Mexico. However, they have not been integrated into the teaching process, leaving children as passive spectators, for example: watching a video, a presentation, or listening to songs".
It has been demonstrated that AR can have a positive impact on innovating learning processes in primary education in Mexico. However, it should be considered as an additional tool within a wide range of educational resources, and not as a sole or magical solution to address the educational challenges of the country.
This effort represents a call to action for all those interested in improving education in Mexico and harnessing the potential of AR in the educational sphere.
"C Minds invites policymakers, educational organizations, civil society, and the industry to take these recommendations into account and drive initiatives that promote quality and equitable education for future generations"
Constanza Gómez Mont,
Founder and Principal of C Minds.
Thank you to our team Constanza Gomez Mont, Claudia May Del Pozo, Daniela Rojas Arroyo, and Nicte for their leadership and to our amazing partners at the UK Embassy, Rodrigo, and Roberto Velez, for making this study happen. Moreover, a big appreciation message to all of our expert participants who gave valuable insights and perspectives for the development of the report including:
Ana Cecilia P. (Capa 8), Ana Ma. Berruecos Vila, César Alberto Loeza Altamirano(UNETE), César Parga (OEA), Diana Alfaro (itera inclusión), Diego Degetau (Lumbria), Edgar (Caligrafix), Elena Arias Ortiz (BID), Fernando Valenzuela Migoya (Global Impact EdTech Alliance), Francisco (Tecduverso), Gilberto Guido (Kidzania), Katty Beltrán (Fundación Dibujando un Mañana), Luis Medina Gual (Universidad Iberoamericana de México), Miguel Angel Marín Orozco (Metaverse México Oficial), Nohemí (Observatorio del Instituto para el Futuro de la Educación), Paola Cicero (IFT), Roberto Rogel (Learny), Sissi De la Peña, and Vania Bañuelos Astorga (Comunidad Aprende).