Augmented reality has recently become a popular interface for various learning applications, but it is not always clear that AR is the right choice. We provide a theoretical grounding that explains the underlying value of AR for learning and identify when it is a suitable interface. Our list of operational design advantages includes AR's use of reality, virtual flexibility, invisible interface, and spatial awareness. This list is backed by four underlying cognitive theories: mental models and distributed, situated, and embodied cognition. We argue that the more design advantages a learning system incorporates, the better AR works as an interface. We also identify a set of questions to be used in the design and evaluation of AR projects. With this, we can begin to design AR for learning more purposefully.
The preprint version of the paper published in Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2012 can be downloaded as a PDF.