Sunday, 4 October 2009

Experience! Explore! Expand!

The reading around Adventure Learning brings up some very interesting points for discussion, but before I get onto those, let's consider the title of this posting.
Experience! Explore! Expand!
As an educator I'm fairly well placed to say that the whole process of learning should go beyond just the experience. Learners need the opportunity to explore a topic to gain deeper knowledge and to expand their understanding. It's quite appropriate therefore, that the motto Experience! Explore! Expand! appears on the GoNorth! website.

Adventure Learning projects, such as GoNorth! have a growing number of global subscribers - (about 3 million annual users, as of 2008), though the research literature surrounding the growth and impact of these programmes is remarkably small. My distance learning tutor, George Veletsianos has invited me to look at this and report back some intial findings. This is an area that is of interest to him, and having read some of the papers that he has co-authored on the subject, something that I feel is worthy of further exploration.

In a previous posting, I introduced some aspects of Adventure Learning. For this example, GoNorth! provides a good illustration - this is because educators have constructed a fully integrated K-12 curriculum with activities that run alongside the Arctic exploration mission. Typically with new technologies, how well Adventure Learning is integrated into classroom practice depends very much on teaching pedagogies and the confidence with which new technologies are taken up. Bearing in mind that most the examples come from the North American samples of their work, I shall look at four models for Adventure Learning integration identified by Veletsianos and Doering:
  • Curriculum Based - using the Adventure Learning programme as is (by following the the project's own curriculum programme)
  • Activities Based - by selecting key activities from the programme (both in a seemingly ad hoc, unstructured manner as well as a more structured activity approach)
  • Standards Based - using the variety of material available through the programme to prepare students for state testing (i.e. tailoring the material to the students' needs)
  • Media Based - this is similar to the activities based approach, but is based on a media-rich programme where students are encouraged to explore the media on offer
All aproaches generate their own discussion points, which I hope to explore in a further posting.

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