Exploring Techniques for Integrating Mobile Technology into Field-Based Environmental Education

Carrie Lyndall Anderson, Brant G Miller, Karla Bradley Eitel, George Veletsianos, Jan U.H. Eitel, Robert Justin Hougham

Abstract


Environmental education authors have argued for cultivating a relationship with nature and the outdoors, and have urged parents to "unplug" their children from technology. In this perspective, technology is seen as curtailing ties to the environment and its use needs to be limited. In this paper, we consider the idea that while technology may contribute to children's disconnect from the natural world around them, it could also support being outdoors. Thus, we explore techniques for incorporating mobile technology into a field-based environmental science curriculum and compare two approaches to field-based environmental education: a traditional approach and a traditional-plus technological intervention approach. A mixed methods design was used to evaluate learning outcomes and record observations. Based on comparisons of pre- and post-test scores and common themes detected through reflexive journaling, results show that the traditional-plus approach to environmental education facilitated an increase in student knowledge and comprehension during a weeklong residential science program. Appropriate implementation of technology can enable outdoor education to enhance existing practice, but there is still a need for further research on the topic.


Keywords


Environmental Education; Field-Based Instruction; Place-Based Instruction; Mobile Technology; Mobile-Learning; Technology-Enhanced Instruction

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