Category Archives: Learning Tech

Learning Technologies Media Lab releases climate change documentary on PBS

Professor Aaron Doering and his team of explorers and educators trek across the unforgiving arctic landscape by dog sled in order to deliver a real-time educational program to millions of students who follow along on the adventure. Their efforts have been captured in a documentary, “The Changing Earth: Crossing the Arctic,” co-produced by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s Learning Technologies Media Lab (LTML) and Twin Cities’ Public Television (TPT).

The Changing Earth project was conceived and led by Doering as a way to engage students in a real-world adventure by broadcasting from wherever they find themselves along the journey—on sleds, in tents, and across frozen treks to Inuit villages. “We focus on a culture, we focus on an environmental issue, and now we focus on a social issue,” says Doering of each new adventure-learning expedition.

The first arctic expedition in 2004 took six months. By the end of the trip, Doering was excited to see that they had over three million learners watching from around the world. The program introduces students and viewers to the challenges of the Arctic and the impact of climate change on its indigenous people in a way that resonates with young learners.

The Changing Earth documentary is now available for free on PBS for anyone interested in learning more about the hardships and thrills of crossing the arctic.

Consider supporting the work of LTML to continue the work of documenting the impact of climate change for all learners.

Find out more about the degree programs available in Learning Technologies in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, which houses the LT Media Lab.

Learning Technologies “Changing Earth” team tackles second Arctic expedition

The mission: Tackle an ancient path across 137 miles of Arctic wilderness from the north of Iceland to the south. Document stories en route focused on how we find strength and purpose in an increasingly fragile, interconnected, and stressed world. A team of four explorers will travel by ski and snowshoe, pulling all gear, food, and technology in large sleds called pulks. They will visit schools and talk with residents in several Icelandic communities en route, learning about the social, economic, and environmental innovations spawned on this island of fire and ice, and how people adapt and find purpose even amidst constant change.

Modern technologies, including drones and virtual reality, will enable the team to capture the expedition, land, communities, and stories in extraordinary ways, and share their journey online in real time with students, teachers, and the general public. Schools around the world have access to the Changing Earth’s free online learning environment (http://thechangingearth.com) with activities and resources focused on science, technology, geography, and culture. The site includes free collaboration and interaction tools for students, a learning zone for the general public, and a student management system for teachers.

The Changing Earth is an adventure learning series of eight expeditions over four years to remote regions of the Arctic and the Tropics. The Arctic and Tropics are facing some of the most rapid and widespread environmental and sociocultural changes on Earth.

The first Changing Earth expedition, in April 2016, took the team across the far northern end of the Baffin Island in Canada (http://thechangingearth.com/expedition1/). This second expedition will begin in late February 2017 in Akureyri, a small city in northern Iceland. From there, the team will travel out by ski and snowshoe, crossing the island from north to south. In the heart of Iceland, they’ll traverse Sprengisandur, an ancient route between the Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers – to Landmannalaugar, an area rife with geothermal activity. This journey will take the team across challenging terrain, not easily accessible in winter. Their final destination is the capital city of Reykjavik.

Team leader Aaron Doering (see http://chasingseals.com) is an adventure learning pioneer, professor, and worldwide explorer who has dogsledded and pulked throughout the circumpolar Arctic, ranging from Chukotka, Russia, to Fennoscandia, and around the globe to Greenland, Canada, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. He holds a close connection to the land, having grown up on a farm in southern Minnesota, and has a passion for educating others about our planet. Doering is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and the UMN Institute on the Environment. He has been honored with multiple awards and recognitions, including being a laureate of the Tech Awards (http://www.thetech.org/tech-awards-presented-applied-materials ), which pay tribute to individuals using technology to benefit humanity.

Doering will be accompanied on this journey by three fellow adventurers and education professionals: Chris Ripken, a high school geography teacher recognized for his innovative uses of technology in the classroom; Jeni Henrickson, a creative professional and researcher passionate about getting folks outdoors; and Matthew Whalen, a professional videographer and seasoned outdoorsman.

Doering notes, “In sharing adventures, educational activities, and stories of innovation from real communities around the world, we hope to engage others in discussions about the importance of these fragile regions of the planet, and inspire people to take action and choose to care about their own communities, cultures, and the environment.”

The ultimate mission of the Changing Earth is to help create an environmentally literate and socially engaged generation of learners worldwide who are able to blend traditional and 21st century scientific and cultural knowledge to generate innovative solutions to guide the Earth and its diverse inhabitants into the future.

Join in online at http://thechangingearth.com and follow on Twitter and Instagram using #choose2care. The challenge begins February 24, 2017.

The Changing Earth is a project of the Learning Technologies Media Lab (LTML). LTML is an innovative design and research center located in the College of Education and Human Development’s Centers for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Minnesota. LTML’s mission is to inspire and create opportunities for global collaboration in addressing humanity’s most pressing educational, social, and environmental issues by designing and evaluating innovative technology-mediated solutions for learners, educators, researchers, and organizations worldwide. We are a nonprofit focused on education, educational technology, and education research, and have to date designed and developed more than two dozen free online and mobile tools and learning environments in use by over 15 million learners worldwide.

See Aaron Doering interviewed about this expedition on The Weather Channel and on a Minnesota television news program.

Learn more about the educational opportunities offered in the Learning Technologies program area in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

SciGirls Code project highlights girls’ computational thinking and coding skills

The SciGirls Code project, led by co-principal investigator Cassie Scharber, kicked off with a session and advisory board meeting at the Computer Science Teachers Association conference in San Diego, July 11-14. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation’s STEM + Computing Partnerships (STEM + C) program, is a two-year project that uses the principles of connected learning with STEM outreach partners to provide 160+ girls and their educators with computational thinking and coding skills.

Scharber_Cassie2011_150px
Cassie Scharber

Scharber, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, leads development of curricula centering on three tracks—e-textiles and wearable tech, robotics, and mobile geospatial technologies; role model training for female technology professionals; professional development for STEM educators; and a research component that investigates the ways computational learning experiences impact the development of computational thinking as well as interest and attitudes toward computer science.

For more information, visit the SciGirls website, produced by Twin Cities Public Television.

Boeckers, C&I LT teaching specialist, wins Outstanding World Language Educator award

Congrats to LT Teaching Specialist Daryl Boeckers, who received the 2014 Emma Birkmaier Outstanding World Language Educator Award at the fall conference for the MN Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures. Boeckers is pictured with a former student, Anna Oliver, Buffalo HS senior, who wrote a letter supporting Boeckers’ nomination. The Emma Birkmaier Award is given to a teacher credited for a significant impact on the language teaching profession and involvement with the nonprofit organization.

Catching up with C&I Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship winner, Sarah North

Sarah North
Sarah North

This summer, we interviewed C&I Ph.D. candidate Sarah North (Learning Technologies) to learn more about her experiences and research. This past spring, Sarah was awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF). The DDF gives the University’s most accomplished Ph.D. candidates an opportunity to devote full-time effort to an outstanding research project by providing time to finalize and write a dissertation during the fellowship year. Sarah’s dissertation study, “Understanding Students’ Self-Regulation in Asynchronous Online Learning” will use a mixed methods design to understand the experience and actions of undergraduate students in an asynchronous, online course who possess varying levels of self-regulated learning. In doing so, Sarah’s goal is to shed light on whether instructional methods or the course environment influence the development of self-regulated learning practices. Read her answers below to learn more about her experiences as she prepares to complete her Ph.D.

What is most exciting about your work/research/studies?
I really enjoy being able to relate my research directly to what I do in the classroom. As I dive deeper into the field of motivation in teaching and learning, I am constantly finding more practical applications for my own instruction in online environments. It makes me feel like there is real, practical benefit to my research, and I hope that other teachers are able to benefit from it as well in the future.

How did your path lead to the University of Minnesota and to your particular C&I/LT focus?
My undergraduate and M.A. degrees are both in technical communication, and I honestly never thought I would end up in education! But when I made the decision to pursue a Ph.D., something about the field of education just felt like the “right fit”. I wanted my work and future career to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and I found that I really enjoy teaching and working towards improving the learning experience for others. I’ve always been drawn to new media technologies, so I was attracted to the Learning Technologies program here where they not only create new and innovative technologies for the classroom, but they also place emphasis on an engaging and effective experience for both learners and teachers. I knew that this was the best place for me to bridge my interests and work towards creating positive influences in higher education.

What have you most enjoyed about your experience in your program?
Definitely the people! I learned more than I ever thought I would from peers and faculty about different disciplines within education, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the amount of interdisciplinary work there is within C&I. I’ve really enjoyed being involved on projects both in and outside of class with various groups of people across the C&I tracks. I actually never thought that I would connect as much as I did with others in different program areas. Even though on the surface our disciplines may seem very different, we actually have a lot of complementary interests and skills to bring to the table, and it creates a rich working and learning environment.

How do you think your educational experience has been typical or not?
The more I’ve talked with others in the program, the more I’ve discovered that it is fairly typical to be “atypical”! I don’t think that anyone feels that their journey is typical, because we’ve all had such unique experiences. I arrived here with no prior experience in K-12 education and my interests are in higher education, so I assumed that I would be quite isolated and not at all typical. However, I was able to make connections with others who have similar interests and backgrounds, and I think some of us bonded over the fact that we didn’t have that K-12 teaching background. But having said that, I found that because C&I is so diverse, it was easy to get involved in multi-disciplinary projects and learn from one another.

Do you have a motto or a set of words to live by?
A long time ago I read this quote from Baseball Hall-of-Famer Al Lopez:

“Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it’s business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you don’t love what you’re doing and you can’t give it your best, get out of it. Life is too short.”

This is what always prompted me to go back to school, while also helping me remain focused throughout the journey. I love the academic environment and working to create positive and practical experiences in education. Life really is too short to not be doing what you love, and I feel very fortunate that I found a career path that I love.

To learn more about the Ph.D. program in Learning Technologies, please visit our Learning Technologies Ph.D. page

 

Learning Technologies M.Ed. Graduates present work at Student Showcase

The LT Media Lab hosted the annual Learning Technologies M.Ed. Student Showcase event on Friday evening, May 9. This was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate a very successful academic year and for many of our graduates to present the final capstone project they accomplished to complete their M.Ed. in Learning Technologies. These practical projects reflect students’ professional goals and require real-world application of the LT knowledge they gain in our program. Projects are often accomplished within students’ current work contexts, which are richly diverse and varied.

Some examples of the capstone projects showcased this year include:

  • international implementation of mobile devices to provide ICT access to residents in rural areas of the Dominican Republic,
  • the creation of a professional development curriculum to prepare teachers for a 1:1 initiatives in K-12 settings,
  • designing a framework for an online program in theological studies for adult learners,
  • the design and development of a mobile application to support childhood literacy,
  • the development of an initiative to encourage kids to explore and learn about the natural environment using technology devices,
  • and the creation and publication of an eBook for instructional designers to guide aesthetic and pedagogically-grounded academic slide design.

Sincere congratulations to all of the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 graduates who have earned an M.Ed. in Learning Technologies:

2014 MEd LT Graduates
2014 MEd LT Graduates (see more photos of the event below)

CJ Sorensen
Marit Oberle
Jean Watson
Joan Freese
Kacie Kline
Lana Peterson
Ann Fandrey
Natt Friday
Heather Dorr
Sandy Ludwig
Kristin Lundstrum
Earl J. Heinrich
Carla Bates
Alfonso Sintjago
Jim Trebisovsky

If you would like to know more about the Master of Education – Professional Studies in Learning Technologies, please visit the LT M.Ed. program page. For more updates from the Learning Technologies Media Lab, please visit the LTML website.

LT student showcase

LT student showcase

LT student showcase

 

Doering interviewed on CNN for story on climate change

Aaron Doering on CNNLearning Technologies associate professor Aaron Doering (Department of Curriculum and Instruction) was interviewed over the weekend by  CNN for his firsthand experiences of climate change through the Earthducation project

“The whole goal behind this project was to literally build this tapestry of voices, and to get people engaged in a dialogue around climate change,” said Doering during his interview. “And, that’s what we’ve been doing; so people can literally go online and they can share their story themselves; and, hopefully it inspires someone to do something different.”

Watch the full CNN interview here.

Earthducation is a series of 7 expeditions to every continent over the course of 4 years (2011-2014) designed to create a world narrative of the dynamic intersections between education and sustainability. Teachers, students, and our online community expand upon this narrative to explore how education influences the future of our planet.

The goal of Earthducation is to address the challenge set forth by the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014, DESD) to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning. Understanding these connections between education and the natural environment on local scales will enable and empower change in education on a global scale, as it provides structure for modeling new approaches to education for sustainable development.

To learn more about Earthducation and other projects by the LT Media Lab, please visit the LT Media Lab’s website. To learn more about Learning Technologies’ academic programs, please visit the Learning Technologies program page.

Flipgrid selected as Webby honoree in three categories

flipgrid logoFlipgrid, the Learning Technologies Media Lab’s video-based discussion and reflection tool, was selected as an honoree in three categories for this year’s Webby Awards. The categories are Web Education, Mobile Education and Reference, and Social Education and Discovery.

Flipgrid was developed to enable teachers to create short, discussion-oriented questions that students respond to through recorded videos. Since its launch, over 600,000 teachers and students, community groups, corporate teams, research organizations, and individuals looking to boost social presence in their online discussions have utilized Flipgrid.

The Webby Awards is the leading international award program honoring excellence on the Internet. Established in 1996 during the Web’s infancy, The Webbys is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) — a 1,000+ member judging body that includes Executive Members comprised of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities, and Associate Members who are former Webby Award Winners and Nominees and other Internet professionals. The 2014 Webby judging body received more than 12,000 nominations from over 60 countries and all 50 states and generated over 900 million media impressions worldwide.

The Flipgrid team will be attending the awards ceremony in New York City as an honoree on May 19. Visit the Flipgrid website to learn more and get started, and visit the LT Media Lab’s website to learn more about other upcoming and ongoing projects. For Learning Technologies academic programs, visit the Learning Technologies program area page in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I Ph.D. candidate Romaric Zongo awarded grant for research in Burkina Faso

Romaric ZongoRomaric Zongo, Ph.D. candidate in Learning Technologies, has been awarded an International Thesis Research Travel Grant by the University of Minnesota Graduate School to support his dissertation work in Burkina Faso.

Zongo’s dissertation study, “Integration of Emerging Learning Technologies in Secondary Schools: A Burkina Faso Case Study,” will attempt to better understand the various considerations that determine the successful integration of emerging ELTs in secondary schools in poor countries and will particularly focus on the benefits and challenges of integration.

“My research explores the role that Emerging Learning Technologies play in ensuring the right education is provided to those in need,” says Zongo. “An informed, knowledgeable and innovative society is essential for sustainable development to foster peace and economic freedom in sub-Saharan Africa. My research is rooted in analyzing how to provide the right education to help build such a society regardless of the socioeconomic status of its members. This travel grant is a great support for my research.”

The International Thesis Research Travel Grant provides travel support for University of Minnesota graduate students conducting short-term and extended research and/or field work in countries outside the United States. The grant is funded by the University of Minnesota to support the internationalization of the University through research and outreach.

To learn more about the Ph.D. in the Learning Technologies program area, visit the Learning Technologies Ph.D. program page.

LT Ph.D. candidate Solen Feyissa awarded grant for thesis work in Ethiopia

Solen FeyissaSolen Feyissa, C&I Ph.D. candidate in Learning Technologies, has been awarded an International Thesis Research Travel Grant by the University of Minnesota Graduate School to support his dissertation work in Ethiopia.

Feyissa’s dissertation study, “The Role of Information Communication Technologies within Ethiopian Education,” focuses on real-life uses of existing Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) for learning purposes. It examines how secondary school students in Ethiopia use ICTs for learning and how social contexts influence their ICT use in educational contexts.

“It is exciting times to be doing this research in Ethiopia because there is a great deal of change occurring there,” says Feyissa. “I am also excited about the field work involved in this project.”

The International Thesis Research Travel Grant provides travel support for University of Minnesota graduate students conducting short-term and extended research and/or field work in countries outside the United States. The grant is funded by the University of Minnesota to support the internationalization of the University through research and outreach.

To learn more about the Ph.D. in the Learning Technologies program area, visit the Learning Technologies Ph.D. program page.

Youth Radio’s Elisabeth Soep visits CEHD to discuss digital youth initiatives

Soep photoAmid a whopper of a Minnesota winter storm, Dr. Elisabeth Soep, Senior Producer and Research Director at Youth Radio, gave an engaging, thought-provoking presentation on digital youth initiatives and civic engagement to a mixed live and online audience this past Friday at McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus. She drew from her work at Youth Radio and from research in a range of other youth-driven settings across the U.S. to identify five tactics young people are using to make a difference in public spheres. Following her talk, a panel of community, university, and school-based youth educators discussed their work in supporting youth voices through digital media production. An archived copy of Dr. Soep’s presentation is viewable online at http://new.livestream.com/ltmedialab/soep.

Youth Radio is an Oakland-based, youth-driven production company that serves as NPR’s official youth desk. The Youth Radio stories Dr. Soep has produced with teen reporters for public media outlets have been recognized with such honors as two Peabody Awards, three Murrow Awards, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

The University of Minnesota event was co-sponsored by the Emma Birkmaier Critical Literacy and Urban Education Speaker Series, the Learning Technologies Media Lab, and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s Speaker Series, with contributions from Culture and Teaching (C&I), the School of Social Work: Youth Studies Program, and the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. All the sponsors are part of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

To stay abreast of upcoming events like these, please visit the CEHD and C&I event pages.

Twin Cities educators and youth gather for ‘Is School Enough?’ event

tptOn Nov. 21, the Learning Technologies Media Lab (LTML) and Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) co-hosted a discussion around tpt’s program Is School Enough?, which is the second in a series of programs about youth, digital media, and education. Is School Enough? focuses on how project-based learning and digital tools can help inform and transform education.
Over 100 educators attended the event, including young people representing community-based organizations from across the Twin Cities. Stephen Brown, the producer of Is School Enough?, hosted and moderated the national panel, and Cassie Scharber, LTML co-director, moderated the local panel.
Community conversations with attendees followed the panel discussions, with LT and Literacy graduate students and staff from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction assisting in backchannel conversations as well as table talk about technology-infused engaged learning.
The event was filmed for inclusion in an event toolkit that will be shared online as a complement to the program. The toolkit can be used by other PBS stations, community groups, schools, etc., to host similar conversations around the county. Educational and additional resources will also be included in the toolkit.
The full episode of Is School Enough?: Engaged Learning in the 21st Century Classroom and Beyond can be viewed online at TPT’s website. Supplemental video clips and resources are available through Edutopia .
Please visit the Learning Technologies Media Lab and or the Learning Technologies Ph.D. program page to learn more.

AvenueDHH featured in THE Journal

AvenuedhhC&I Associate Professor Charles Miller and Educational Psychology Associate Professor Susan Rose were recently featured in the article, “Ed Profs Designing Online Literacy Assessment Software,” in THE Journal, a magazine dedicated to informing and educating K-12 senior-level district and school administrators, technologists, and tech-savvy educators to improve and advance the learning process through the use of technology.
Along with Penn State Education professor, Simon Hooper, Miller and Rose are developing an online learning analytics system to help improve assessment, feedback and progress-monitoring of literacy education for students in 1st through 8th grade.
From the article:
“The system, named AvenueDHH (Audio-Visual Educational Environments for Deaf or Hard of Hearing) was originally designed to monitor the literacy performance of deaf or hard of hearing students over time for the purpose of personalizing instruction. Currently, the system can handle only a few users, but the researchers have received funding for a nation-wide implementation that could support hundreds or thousands of concurrent users. Usability testing of the system has begun, and the researchers are considering how to generalize the system for a mainstream student population.”
To learn more about AvenueDHH or Charles Miller’s other projects, visit the LT Media Lab’s projects page.

Learning Technologies and Ensia magazine win international design awards

Three University of Minnesota-based projects — Earthducation, Ensia and North of Sixty — received prestigious 2013 (Re)design awards recently from AIGA, one of the world’s largest professional organizations for design. The projects competed against hundreds of competitors worldwide. Earthducation and Ensia also received additional recognition as “Judge’s Choice” award winners.

aigaThe AIGA (Re)design Awards competition has been held biennially since 2009 as a way to recognize exemplary sustainable and socially responsible design. The awards showcase “design that challenges us to (re)think the world and our choices” and are based on the philosophy that “through masterful storytelling, compelling visuals, and beautiful design, we have the power to shape the future and ignite change,” according to AIGA.
Other 2013 award recipients include projects done for Human Rights Campaign, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s National Medical Center, Earthjustice and more.
North of Sixty is a project of the LT Media Lab in the University’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), while Ensia is housed in the Institute on the Environment (IonE). Earthducation is sponsored by both CEHD and IonE.
North of Sixty aims to create a global tapestry of climate stories, weaving together the history and culture of Arctic communities worldwide and preserving the voices and ecological knowledge of generations.
Ensia is a magazine and event series showcasing solutions to Earth’s biggest environmental challenges. The online magazine was designed by Vancouver-based creative agency smashLAB.
Earthducation is a series of seven expeditions to every continent over the course of four years (2011-14) designed to create a world narrative of the dynamic intersections between education and sustainability.

C&I’s Aaron Doering delivers Keynotes in Singapore and St. Paul

DoeringAAUWThis past weekend, Curriculum and Instruction Associate Professor Aaron Doering presented “From Apps to Adventure Learning: Engaging Millions of Learners around the World,” the keynote address for TEL2013 Symposium in Singapore. This two-day symposium brought together stakeholders from institutions of higher education around the world to examine key aspects of technology-enhanced learning such as impacts on learners and teachers, sustainability, and scalability.
In his talk, Doering shared the technology transformation principles behind many of the learning environments he and his team have designed, developed, and delivered around the world. Some of these projects include North of Sixty, Earthducation, WeExplore, and Geothentic.
In addition, Doering provided the keynote at a meeting of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in St. Paul, MN, this week. His talk centered on engaging learners through the investigation of education and sustainability.
Please visit the Learning Technologies Media Lab for more information on Doering’s research and projects.

C&I’s Cassie Scharber and Angel Pazurek deliver Keynote at SPCLC Event

SPCLCEarlier this month, Curriculum and Instruction Assistant Professor Cassie Scharber and Angel Pazurek presented the keynote at the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium’s (SPCLC) annual fall meeting for literacy professionals working in Adult Basic Education programs.
The title of the keynote was “Technology and the Shifting Definition of Literacy: New Directions for Education,” and it engaged literacy professionals in conversations relating to preparing adult learners with digital literacy skills. Technology integration was discussed as a means to amplify possibilities for learners to connect, collaborate, and create. Scharber and Pazurek also discussed the community and culture shift associated with teaching with technology, including opportunities, barriers, and the ontological changes in learning spaces that impact the roles of both learners and facilitators.

C&I’s Aaron Doering and Earthducation featured in UNEARTH News

DoeringA-2011Department of Curriculum and Instruction Associate Professor and Learning Technologies Media Lab Co-Director, Aaron Doering and the LTML project, Earthducation are featured in the article, “The Power of Storytelling in Climate Change Education,” published this week by UNEARTH News, a nonprofit news agency based in the United Nations.
The article highlights the necessity for culturally-relevant curriculum when visiting remote regions impacted by climate change. Doering states, “Climate change education is going to be motivated by these stories that people want to share. What we’re seeing now is that formal schooling does not have a focus on traditional practices and how it’s changing within the environment.”
Visit UNEARTHNews.org for the full story.

New Research from Associate Professor Aaron Doering and PhD Candidate Jeni Henrickson

Jeni-Henrickson-article-thumbanilPeople around the world are captivated by a good adventure story. Adventure draws us into great literature and movies, but can it draw us into an educational lesson? Can it inspire us to act? Associate Professor Aaron Doering and researcher Jeni Henrickson sought answers to these and other questions in “Teaching Sustainability through Adventure,” recently published in the Journal of Sustainability Education.
In this study, Doering and Henrickson provide a brief history of the use of adventure in education, along with an overview of two models: adventure education and adventure learning. They then investigate how students experience adventure when participating in an adventure learning program and what role teachers believe adventure plays in teaching and learning. They conclude with a discussion about how this research supports a new model, user-driven adventure learning, that involves learners completing and sharing their own inquiry-based adventure learning projects online. This is now possible through a unique new online learning environment called WeExplore.
In order to answer the specific study questions, Doering and Henrickson gathered data from teachers and students who participated in one of the numerous Adventuring Learning projects delivered over the past decade throughout the world. The Adventure Learning team in this instance was a mix of explorers, scientists, and educators who traveled into different regions of the Arctic, visiting remote communities and schools, interviewing local residents, participating in cultural events, and collecting both scientific and cultural data.
The expedition team posted weekly updates online, including photos, videos, maps, and interactive graphics, all of which were synched with a previously designed, comprehensive curriculum provided to teachers prior to the expedition start. The online learning environment included multiple opportunities for classrooms to interact with the team, a variety of field experts worldwide, and each other. In addition, classrooms could share their own projects and data related to the expedition within this online environment.
Here are some of the results from their analysis:

  • 90% of the students interviewed noted that the adventure motivated them to learn.
  • Over 70% of the students noted that once they learned about the adventure, they wanted to follow along until the adventure was completed. Students commented that normally they would engage in a learning experience for the minimal amount of time to complete the activity. When adventure was part of the learning experience, they returned to the learning environment not only during class, but also during study halls, at home, and on mobile devices.
  • Over 50% of the students noted that the learning experience was as if they were reading a book. One student said, “Whether it was the dogs or the Inuit or the team’s crazy experiences, I wanted to be part of the entire adventure. I think my parents were wondering why I was always on the computer.”
  • Students gained an understanding of the world beyond their local community. Students commented that they felt they had a better understanding for remote locations and cultures.
  • All six of the teachers interviewed commented that they were motivated to be part of the learning community because they, too, wanted to follow along and be part of the adventure. From comments about the daily updates to how the adventure connected to the curriculum, the teachers noted the idea of adventure was what was needed in the classroom and beyond.

Doering commented, “This study is a reflection of the many studies that have come out of the adventure learning programs over the past decade – both students and teachers alike are both motivated and inspired to be part of the adventure and narrative as they utilize the curriculum within their schools. I’m excited to move to the next level of Adventure Learning, where students are developing their own adventure learning projects and sharing them with a worldwide audience, which is now possible at http://we-explore.com.”

Teen Tech leaders gather at LTML

teenTechGroupShot

Teen Tech leaders from around the Twin Cities gathered at Learning Technologies Media Lab on Thursday, July 25, to meet each other, share work and ideas, play with Flipgrid, and hang out with LTML developers. Co-sponsored by the LT Media Lab and the Emma Birkmaier Professorship in Educational Leadership, this event was organized by Maggie Struck, a Ph.D. student in Literacy Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
Participants included the Franklin Library’s Teen Tech Squad (Hennepin County Library), CreaTech from SPNN (St. Paul Neighborhood Network), and the Teen Tech Crew from the Science Museum of Minnesota and St. Paul Public Libraries.
Thanks to all who made this day spectacular. LTML is looking forward to future visits and collaborations.