Here it is! The long-awaited-for second technology inquiry project post.
For this blog post, I chose to look into a master’s thesis paper a UVic Masters of Education alumna wrote that Dr Valerie Irvine directed me to entitled “Learning in the Outdoor Classroom: Integrating Nature, Mobile Technology, and Constructivist Learning to Support Young Children”. To be honest, I did not read the whole thesis paper (it’s over 100 pages), but chose instead to focus on the sections “Mobile technology in primary school” (pp. 20-24), “Educational Experiences with Mobile Devices in Nature” (pp. 34-37), the conclusion (pp. 37-38), and the now-alumna’s website project (as described in pp. 39-74), and where she got her research that I could possibly later explore for my group’s project!
Here is what I have learned from reading this Masters of Education alumna’s thesis:
Students Using Technology in the Classroom Setting Promotes the Development of Their Social Skills
This is a very controversial topic, and there is a lot of good research on both sides of the discussion for whether using tablets (the technology this paper focussed on for use in the classroom) is productive for promoting “social skill development and collaboration” or not amongst students (p. 20). However, this paper takes the position that it would be good for students’ “social skill development and collaboration” (as cited by Alper, 2011; Harwood et al., 2015; Neumann, 2013; Neumann & Neumann, 2014 in the paper). An example of this would be in how students would have to learn to share the technological devices, particularly if there are fewer devices made available to the class than there are students (p. 21). Sharing is an especially important social skill for younger students to learn (p. 21). Even if there’s a significant amount of devices in the classroom, students will have the opportunity to ask their peers for help when using the device, instead of just relying on the teachers (as cited by Harwood et al, 2015 in the paper). My goal is not to transcribe this thesis paper into my blog post, so for those who are curious at looking at six more ways that researchers have seen the use of technology in classrooms by students develop students’ social skills, see “Table 2” on p. 22.
Students Using Technology in Educational Ways Increases Student Engagement with the Material and Possibly Recall of Information
The second point here (that using technology in educational ways outdoors increases recall of information) is debatable, because there is also research stating that it may cause an immediate increase in recall, but not in retention of information (p. 36). However, most of the research that “shows a positive outcome for student engagement and retention” (p. 36) all came from pre-2014, so I wonder if any research has been done on this since, and if anything has changed.
Teachers Have Asked Students to Use Technology Like Online Guides Outdoors
I thought this was a really interesting idea, coming from page 34 of the paper. Every time the paper mentioned research that has been done about students using technology outdoors for educational purposes and using it like online guides to the nature they were surrounded in, it seemed to be for mostly science classes, according to page 34 and 36. I wonder what other classes technology has been used educationally outdoors for!
There Are Terms I Need to Look Up
A few of the studies cited in this paper use the acronym PDA to mean “Personal Digital Assistant” (p. 34), and MLP to mean ” ‘mobile-learning passport’ ” (as cited by Lai et al, 2007 p. 34). I wonder if these are commonly-used terms in the world of education, or not. Either way, I feel like I should look these up more to help with this project.
This Masters of Education Student Also Created Her Own Website
This website, entitled “Urban Puddle Jumpers” offers a list of resources, activities, and lessons for kindergarten and Grade One teachers interested in taking their students’ lessons outdoors (p.39). These activities and lessons were made to fulfill curricular objectives for the 2015 B.C. curriculum (p. 45), which has since been updated. I wonder if there are online resources, activities, and lessons for teachers wanting to teach lessons to their students outdoors with or without technology that would fulfill some of the curricular competencies of the new B.C. curriculum.
The most interesting section of this alumna’s website to me was her “Adding iPads” section, as discussed on page 54 of her thesis. In this section of her website, she shows ways teachers can engage students in learning using iPads, primarily to document their learning using photo and video apps. The ones she mentions on her website are PicCollage, TinyTap, and Explain Everything (p. 54). I haven’t heard of any of these apps before, and am interested in looking these up!
Reading about the different apps this alumna would ask kindergarten and Grade One students to use to document their learning got me thinking about the use of apps in learning outdoors. I feel like there apps that are not created specifically to be used outdoors and educationally by students, and then there are apps that are specifically created to be used by students in an outdoor classroom environment. I think it would be the most beneficial to my group to look at apps that fit into both of these categories.
Finally, I took a brief look at the thesis’ list of references, and curated a short list of these references that I would like to look into more to help my group with our project on how technology and outdoor education can be blended:
- “Getting Students Outside: Using Technology as a Way to Stimulate Engagement” by C. Boyce, C. Mishra, K. Halverson, & A. Thomas (2014)
- “The Use of Mobile Technologies in Project-Based Science: A Case Study” by L. Avraammidou (2013)
- “Local Tree Mapping: A Collaborative, Place-Based Activity Integrating Science, Technology, Math, and Geography” by E. Blatt (2013)
- “Augmenting your own reality: Student authoring of science-based augmented reality games” by E. Klopfer & J. Sheldon (2011)– I think this is a super cool idea!
- “Realizing Outdoor Independent Learning With a Butterfly-Watching Mobile Learning System” by Y.S. Chen, T.C. Kao & J.P Sheu (2005)
- “A mobile learning system for scaffolding bird watching learning” by Y.S. Chen, T.C. Kao & J.P. Sheu (2003)
Wow what a long post! Thanks for reading all the way to the end.
Stay tuned for another post about what we are continuing to learn in our technology inquiry project!