A follow up to the ecological pond | eePRO @ NAAEE
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A follow up to the ecological pond

I have come across an recent article that seems to continue the 'ecological pond' focus that Clifford raised some time ago. I have copied the text from the abstract of this 2016 article below and wondered what people thought, particularly of the claim that there is an 'antagonistic relationship [which] is traditionally seen as existing between eco-education and technology'?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

~ Mike.

ABSTRACT:

Taken from Tien-Chi Huang, Chia-Chen Chen, Yu-Wen Chou, Animating eco-education: To see, feel, and discover in an augmented reality-based experiential learning environment, Computers & Education, Volume 96, May 2016, Pages 72-82, ISSN 0360-1315, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2016.02.008.

An antagonistic relationship is traditionally seen as existing between eco-education and technology, with conventional instructional approaches usually characterized by a commentator guiding students in field learning. Unfortunately, in this passive learning approach, the discovery of rich ecological resources in eco-environments to stimulate positive emotions and experiences is often condensed into a “sightseeing”. Therefore, precise and systematic guidance focused on providing a rich learning experience is needed in field learning and eco-education. Based on Kolb's experiential learning theory, the current study develops an eco-discovery AR-based learning model (EDALM) which is implemented in an eco-discovery AR-based learning system (EDALS). In a field experiment at a botanical garden, 21 middle school students constitute three groups participated in a learning activity using different learning types and media. Quantitative results indicate that, compared to the human-guidance-only model, EDALS successfully stimulates positive emotions and improved learning outcomes among learners. In post-activity interviews, students indicated they found the exploration mode provided by the proposed system to be more interesting and helpful to their learning in school. The use of attractive technologies increase students' willingness not only to learn more about the environment, but also to develop a more positive emotional attachment to it.

I have been thinking a lot lately about augmented reality and engagement in nature, particularly in the context of Pokemon Go. How might hand-held electronic devices promote a deeper appreciation of the natural world and perhaps even a greater sense of connection to it? Pokemon Go certainly does not do this, though it does at least seem to be getting children exercising outdoors and wandering their neighborhood. Ultimately, though, for all the apps out there, I find it difficult to beat two that have been with us for a long time now: the camera and the GPS. Neither augment reality, but both enable people to experience it in new ways. A camera becomes a tool for seeing our surroundings in new light (quite literally); a macro lens enables us to notice insects and leaf tracings we might have passed by before. Meanwhile, Geocaching is an excellent activity for introducing children to new natural areas and new experiences. The data, restricted to a set of coordinates, facilitate the adventure but do not intrude upon it. I know this is a somewhat skeptical response. From this abstract, it appears that virtual reality may help engage students with nature. But I remain wary.