17 May 2021

How Augmented Reality can help prison learners and reduce reoffending

Guest blog: Richard Booth – ILT Coordinator and Project Lead at Shrewsbury Colleges Group as part of our #DigitalJustice2021 week.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality enables learners to use an app on any mobile device to scan an image to view interactive content for instruction, learning and reinforcement. They have the ability to learn independently, at own pace, inside and outside of the classroom environment on in-cell. This content can be made up of any functional or vocation skill, prison induction, services available through to preperation for release and beyond the gate.


Why Augmented Reality?

The two published documents that influenced the initial European bid were:

  • Unlocking Potential: A review of education in prison by Dame Sally Coates in February 2016.
  • Education and Employment Strategy: by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State – Rt. Hon David Gauke MP in May 2018.

Both reports concluded:

  • Smarter use of ICT and greater digital innovation;
  • Enable more flexible learning;
  • Prison learners to have controlled access to the internet;
  • Digitally delivered in-cell learning;
  • Access increased education opportunities through digital technology;
  • Technology introduced to support education and pastoral resources and support;
  • Continue to support projects that are testing the use of laptop and tablet technology.

There are 2 European funded projects.

Project One: Developing Augmented Reality in Prisoner Learning. For first time prisoners, getting past the first few days is the hardest part. The first resources cover ‘Prison Induction’ process. This will great benefit to ‘the learner’ & aims to put them at ease, prison information direct from fellow prisoners & to show that they are not alone.  A series of AR posters and learning cards to act as a trigger to an individual resource, video, or multiple

Project Two: Supporting Prison Learners to Prepare for Life on the Outside.
Augmented Reality (AR) can provide prisoners with a more interactive way of learning, facilitate research, activities, instruction, and information. A series of AR resources, including resource posters and guidance/learning cards, covering aspects of employability and life skills to support offender learners to prepare for life on release.


Augmented Reality will give a more personal and realistic approach to support learners for life in custody and on release to reintegrate back into society. We have tested it with current PEF staff who were inspired and impressed with the concept and AR resources to date. We need prisons  to pilot the resources and ensure security and access are a key factor and of major importance. The project will need to ensure that the resources are 'locked' from the outside world and access is monitored and within the security confines required for custodial institutions.

For more information on these projects and progress to date can be found at the following project websites and blog links:

Phase 1 project: https://www.scg.ac.uk/erasmus

Phase 2 project: https://www.scg.ac.uk/erasmus2

Resource examples: https://tinyurl.com/2p2bcjwe

AR process and the learner experience: https://tinyurl.com/6j9sxwjp

I have over 21 years’ experience in the development, use and support of ILT within the education sector and the lead on a European funded project to support prison learners to improve their education.

For a virtual demonstration or more information please contact:

Richard Booth - ILT Coordinator and Project Lead
Shrewsbury Colleges Group
email: [email protected]
phone: 01743 342 442

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