Website review by James Denby, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2019


Powerful AR creation tool not built for classrooms

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Subjects & Skills
Creativity, Communication & Collaboration

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Pros: Tools are available for teachers with varying expertise; lots of potential classroom uses.

Cons: Many aspects are complicated; not built with the classroom in mind, so creative teachers and students are a must.

Bottom Line: ZapWorks is best suited to tech-savvy teachers and students; others might prefer AR tools with a bigger educational focus.

ZapWorks wasn't built for education, but it could be a useful classroom tool. Most teachers would likely end up using Widget, because it's fairly simple to use (and because Studio and Designer require a lot of time that most teachers don't have). Using Widget, you can create additional content (videos, audio recordings, images, or text) that you can add as a "layer" to walls, displays, artifacts, etc. For example, you could create ZapWorks triggers, print them, and place them around the school to allow students to do scavenger hunts and learn additional content or related facts. Students would then use their phones and the Zappar app to read the trigger and see and hear the content you've created. For field trips or school events, the widgets would allow participants to access information and see or hear creative content through their phones.

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ZapWorks is a creation tool for combining images, videos, sounds, web links, and more to create augmented-reality (AR) experiences. The website allows teachers and students to create in three different ways. The simplest, called Widget, lets novices create something like a QR code (called a "trigger") that can be printed and added to anything in the classroom or school. Using Zappar, the platform's app for reading the triggers, students can hear, see, or watch a new layer of information or augmented reality added to just about any surface. 

The Designer tool functions a bit like a PowerPoint slide and lets teachers and students overlay videos and images to share information, communicate messages, and link to websites or social media. The most complex tool, Studio, allows for 3D modeling, visual timelines, and 360-degree imagery. This allows for the development of much more immersive augmented-reality creations. 

ZapWorks by itself isn't a learning tool, but it offers the potential to share ideas and communicate information in an innovative way through augmented reality. Teachers who get creative with the content will find students who are motivated, though the novelty might wear off over time. 

With students as creators, they not only use the tool to connect with others but also explore the emerging field of AR. Students could incorporate ZapWorks triggers into presentations, displays, and projects to communicate additional information and add an element of interactivity. The Widgets tool is simple enough for anyone to use, but Designer and Studio require more advanced users. 


Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Teachers using ZapWorks will likely find students to be engaged by the novelty of AR. It's potentially appealing as a fun way for students to demonstrate learning, too. 

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Creating AR experiences with ZapWorks could be an interesting way to energize scavenger hunts, field trips, and more. However, it's up to teachers and students to figure out how to adapt it for the classroom.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

ZapWorks offers a number of tutorials to get users started, but unfortunately, they don't have a classroom focus. A user showcase highlights creations made with the Designer and Studio tools. 

Common Sense reviewer
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

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