Introducing concepts of 3D geology to students can be difficult. While 2D geological maps and pictures are well supplemented by 3D animations and movies in presentation slides, for most students, a true hands on experience with 3D data is only possible in computing labs.
On the other hand, Augmented Reality (AR) is a rising technology that is very accessible by being available on popular handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. With the development of an app that allows for collaborative viewing of 3D geological models in AR, further concepts to improve education in geosciences have been explored.
With simpler and more direct access to 3D geomodels, students could browse through a catalog of models (e.g. different fault types) whenever they want to refresh their knowledge before the next exam. Teachers could guide larger audiences through a 3D model by highlighting individual parts while every member of the audience visualizes and explores the model on their own device. For smaller study or project groups, models can be discussed while being visualized in the same location and the same state in a shared AR session.
Although these concepts have not yet been applied in day to day education, they pose potential to greatly improve the accessibility of 3D geological data for students and offer ways to enrich the communication of teachers. The author is in contact with the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology to exchange ideas and hopefully apply them in practice soon.