Using mobile learning in free-choice educational settings to enhance ecological literacy

Principal Investigator: Dr Chris Eames Researcher: Dr Claudio Aguayo
Teacher: Ahuroa School: Jessica Hanlon & students
Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre

Project Dates: January 2017 - December 2018

Partnerships: NZCER Teaching and Learning Research Initiative

This research addressed the intersection of mobile learning, free-choice learning in science and sustainability education, and ecological literacy. It examined the outcomes of an intervention using mobile learning which enhanced primary school teaching and learning during a unit on marine reserves. The unit included a visit to Goat island marine reserve and its associated Marine DIscovery Centre. The research examined how mobile learning in a free-choice learning setting influences teaching and learning for students, their teacher and their parents, and promoted ecoliteracy outcomes, developed the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours for a sustainable future.

Why was this research important?

An understanding of how mobile technology could be integrated into the teaching and learning of science and sustainability education that incorporated free-choice learning contexts is of strategic importance to education in New Zealand. Mobile learning tools, affordances and experiences could be shaped to offer ideal conditions for free-choice learning. Promoting knowledge and favourable attitudes towards science and socio-ecological sustainability, through the use of technology and experiences of place, contributed to the achievement of success for all learners and their ability to contribute to the wellbeing of New Zealand.

There was growing evidence indicating that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has the potential to enhance learning, increase knowledge and promote transformative changes in the attitudes and behaviour of both individuals and the broader community. Within ICT, today’s mobile learning technologies (e.g. smartphones, tablets) have multiple potential positive impacts for teaching and learning. Most importantly, they allowed for learning processes to occur practically anywhere in collaboration with anyone. They also promoted innovative, inclusive and transformative  types of learning that challenge traditional pedagogical approaches. Outcomes from this project  provided useful examples and guidelines for enhanced learning using mobile devices, and for successful online collaboration between mobile learning practitioners.