Untethered Learning: A Mixed Methods Study of Mobilized Adventure Learning
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Mobile technologies now afford unprecedented opportunities, resources, and possibilities for learning. Among them, is the opportunity for students to engage in hands-on, out-of-classroom learning activities such as Adventure Learning. Since 2007, Adventure Learning has developed as an educational framework for using information and communication technologies to connect learners with expeditionary teams where video-based communication provides a sense of adventure for learners. The study was conducted in a public high school where an Environmental Science teacher used mobile learning technologies to create Adventure Learning projects where students participated both fin the classroom and as members of an “expeditionary team.” It was also intended to examine both the benefits and challenges in implementing ubiquitous mobile technologies in the field, combined with the use of student-centered pedagogies in their classrooms. The major questions of the study asked how did a teacher leverage mobilized Adventure Learning to design learning activities? And how did active participation in a mobilized Adventure Learning project affect student interest in the subject of Environmental Science? The study involved examining the ways the teacher leveraged the affordances of mobile technologies to create a hands-on, collaborative, and Adventure Learning environments outside of the classroom. The hands-on learning activities were designed to enable students to gather first-hand information related to environmental science. Subjects in the study included a high school Environmental Science teacher along with 104 participating students. Using a mixed methods approach, qualitative data were gathered through observations of learning activities, interviews and focus groups and artifacts. Quantitative data were gathered through surveys administered to the students before and after the treatment. The results indicated that, contrary to the teacher’s expectations, students indicated a preference for learning through book and lecture rather than hands-on discovery of information in both pre and post treatment surveys. Results of the study also demonstrated differences in learning preference relating to percentage of students participating in field-based, hands-on learning activities or in lecture-book classroom learning activities. Recommendations for future research and for educational practice are offered. Limitations of the study include the small sample size and short time duration of the study.
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