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Covid-19, Engineering education, Experiential learning, Online education


Background: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has recently resulted in an emergent shift of traditional instruction to (presumably temporary) online delivery, and many students were not able to participate in practical activities (e.g., laboratory experiments) due to inaccessible or unavailable “brick and mortar” laboratories. Purpose: This works-in-progress paper developed a multimedia learning platform with virtual laboratory modules through an Augmented Reality (AR) environment, where virtual objects (augmented components) are superimposed onto a real learning setting during online lecture instruction. Specifically, to facilitate students’ gaining practical skills, a library of virtual objects were established for the main physical components or systems related to the undergraduate “Heating, Ventilating, and Air-conditioning (HVAC)” class to allow students to be immersed in an augmented learning reality representing the real physical world.
Design: This proceeds in the following steps: 1) selecting a set of common HVAC components in the HVAC course; 2) developing an AR method to recognize each component’s figures or pictures from any learning documents (e.g., printed lecture ppt notes and textbook, and documents shown on computer or mobile screens); 3) establishing components’ 3D models with learning materials (e.g., concept and evaluation); 4) developing an AR app sequencing the learning materials upon request once an component is recognized; and 5) evaluating the app’s effectiveness.
Results: This works-in-progress developed an initial AR app for an air handling unit (one main HAVC component), and the AR-based supplementary learning tool was tested and validated by graduate students who have already taken this HVAC class before. Their feedback showed that the AR tool would allow them to learn at their own pace while the instructor is not face-to-face with them, and the results revealed that the tool enhanced their practical skills especially when they are sheltered at their homes without accessing a lab or field trip.
Conclusion: A well-designed AR learning app will effectively guide students to perform hands-on experiments related to the HVAC course and other STEM laboratory courses. The alternative pedagogy through AR technology also provides an efficient way to deliver practical experience online, especially when on-campus lab resources are limited or people are sheltered at home during natural disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic.






South Dakota State University


© American Society for Engineering Education, 2020. Posted with permission.


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