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Technology and outdoor education: Some experiential possibilities

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There is a philosophical tension in outdoor education about the role of technology. On one hand, outdoor educators seek to distance participants from technology in order to provide “a place apart”. On the other hand, most outdoor education programs rely on a growing plethora of outdoor and safety gear, electronic navigation and communication, and transport technologies. Despite this, outdoor education tends to be somewhat unadventurous in its pedagogical use of technology. Instead, we might experiment with a wider spectrum of technologies (from low tech to high tech). By considering possibilities from across the technological gamut – e.g., from survival programs (low tech) to urban challenges with mobile electronic devices (high tech) – we might enrich our understanding of outdoor learning processes and engage different types of participants.

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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  • I am currently involved in a teacher education program (Outdoor Education) and there is a massive push to embrace ICT in teaching within outdoor education. However at this stage of technological advancement, while ICT and Web 2.O tools can be used as a means of reflection, it is simply not practical to take your Iphone or laptop kayaking, sailing, or rock climbing. While a three dimensional fly through map online will clearly help a group of students plan a 5 day exped. the reality is that you would not send students away with a gps and no map and compass. If you had to choose between the two you would always take the map and compass just as any experienced yacht skipper would choose a sextant and chart over a gps.
    ICT and Web2.0 does have its place in education and more so I believe as students move toward tertiary education. But what must be recognized as we interface more and more we loose the development of interpersonal skills.

    While Technology has made us safer in and more comfortable in the outdoors it also has issues. Safety can be compromised by technology. I recall reading a court case where a dive instructor or facility was found negligent as the instructor was taking pictures while supervising a group of novice divers. The Instructors attention to safety was impaired and a diving accident happened.
    Furthermore while the concept of students recording the natural environment with there $100 lap tops is great I would question the level of connectedness this creates. Connectedness with the natural world not the internet.

    An area that I feel must embrace a technological age and ICT is sustainability education. The old ways are not effective and as new technologies develop so with sustainable living and education.

    Outdoor education is at the crossroads! On one hand the aims of outdoor education 1) Leadership, but is following the arrow on your gps leadership? 2) Personal socio development, but is a virtual camping experience a suitable substitute for the challenge of 2 students assembling a tent in the wind and rain? 3) Interpersonal skills, but does ICT really develop Interpersonal Skills
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  • Thought provoking for us luddites in the outdoors!
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Technology and outdoor education: Some experiential possibilities

  1. 1. Technology & outdoor education Some experiential possibilities Dr. James Neill Centre for Applied Psychology University of Canberra National Outdoor Education Conference, Jan. 10-13, 2010
  2. 2. Copyright: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  3. 3. Presentation url: http://bit.ly/5P3HwQ (wilderdom.com) Email: [email_address] Twitter: http://twitter.com/jtneill Contacts & resources
  4. 4. Abstract Philsophical tension between outdoor education & technology On one hand, outdoor educators seek to distance participants from technology in order to provide “a place apart”. On the other hand, OE programs rely on a growing plethora of technology e.g., outdoor activity, safety, navigation, communication, transport and multimedia gear.
  5. 5. Proposal That there is (or can be) a symbiotic rather than antagonistic relationship (between tech & OE) and that outdoor education can contribute to facilitating experiential and adventurous learning with and about technology.
  6. 6. Session aim to explore the creative tension and experiential possibilities of different kinds of technology in outdoor educational settings
  7. 7. Philosophy History Possibilities (Applications & Trends) Discussion Overview
  8. 8. OE & Technology: Philosophical dilemma Is outdoor education a ‘ victim ’ of technology? e.g., invaded, colonised, overtaken by technology ?
  9. 9. OE & Technology: Philosophical dilemma Or will we work with technology? e.g. use technology to enhance outdoor education skills and understanding ?
  10. 10. OE & Technology: Philosophical dilemma Is modern technology a problem or an opportunity for outdoor education?
  11. 11. OE & Technology: Philosophical dilemma ...but this is an intimate & necessary tension Tech & OE are uneasy bedfellows
  12. 12. OE & Technology: Philosophical dilemma Outdoor education relies on technology because OE exists as a cultural reaction to industralisation.
  13. 13. OE & Technology: Philosophical dilemma Conventional outdoor education practices rely significantly on modern technology (e.g., transport, outdoor gear, mobile communication).
  14. 14. OE & Technology: Philosophical dilemma … Technology is NOT the antithesis of the outdoors (indoors is)  Tech is a vital component of OE
  15. 15. A brief history of technology in the outdoors Have things changed that much?
  16. 16. What is technology? <ul><li>Artificial aid e.g., tool </li></ul><ul><li>(Useful) cultural artifact </li></ul><ul><li>Capacity not inherited </li><ul><li>Hard (gear)
  17. 17. Soft (know-how) </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Wild gorillas are handy with a stick In the Republic of Congo, researchers observed an adult female gorilla was observed at the edge of a pool of water, “looking intently at the water in front of her.” She walked into the water, but stopped and returned to the edge when the water reached her waist. She then walked back into the water, grabbed a branch, detached it, and, grasping it firmly, repeatedly jabbed the water in front of her with the end of the branch, “apparently using it to test the water depth or substrate stability.” She continued walking across the pool, branch in hand, “using it as a walking stick for postural support.”
  19. 19. Homo sapiens are not the only hominids to use tools e.g., Neanderthals did too
  20. 20. Otzi - Iceman - 5300 years ago <ul><li>Bow & arrows
  21. 21. Bread
  22. 22. Copper axe
  23. 23. Fire starting kit
  24. 24. Knives
  25. 25. Medicine
  26. 26. Shoes / Snowshoes
  27. 27. Tattoos </li></ul>
  28. 28. Mt Everest Expedition, 1953 Gear (Hillary and Tenzing) <ul><li>Cotton tents 2-3 x heavier than today
  29. 29. Wool, leather and canvas clothing
  30. 30. Primitive ice-climbing equipment e.g., wooden-handled ice-axes
  31. 31. Value of oxygen weight debatable </li></ul>
  32. 32. History of tool usage Stone/Wood: 500,000? years Computers: 20 years Copper/Iron: 3,000 years Industrial machines: 150 years
  33. 33. Modern electronic technologies are leap-frogging industrial development
  34. 34. Disruptive technology <ul><li>Innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by being lower priced or designed for a different set of consumers.
  35. 35. Disruptive technologies threaten to virally leap-frog and make redundant expensive mainstream technologies.
  36. 36. e.g., digital cameras vs. film cameras
  37. 37. e.g., wireless vs. landline </li></ul>
  38. 38. 4 waves of technological change (Peter Russell, 1983, Global Brain) <ul><li>Agriculture
  39. 39. Industry
  40. 40. Information
  41. 41. Mind </li></ul>21 st century – age of biotech/cybertech?
  42. 42. Open design Development of physical products, machines and systems through use of publicly shared design information . Consistent with philosophy of free & open source software & information.
  43. 43. Appropriate technology Effective, ethical technologies for addressing the social and environmental needs in developing societies. e.g., Whirlwind Pedal-powered wheelchair washing machine
  44. 44. Web 1.0: Read Web User Static Passive
  45. 45. Web 2.0: Read & Write Web User Dyna- mic Exper- iential
  46. 46. Singularity (Kurzweil) <ul><li>Hypothetical point of massive interconnection
  47. 47. Paradigm shifts & technological innovations occur unprecedently rapidly.
  48. 48. Whenever technology approaches a barrier, new technologies will cross it. </li></ul>
  49. 49. Singularity (Kurzweil) <ul><li>… leading to “technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history”
  50. 50. Singularity will occur before the end of the 21st century, ~2045. </li></ul>
  51. 51. Some technological applications & trends for outdoor education
  52. 52. International Life Cycle (Priest, 1999) Source: Priest, S. (1999). National life cycles in outdoor adventure programming .  The Outdoor Network, 10 (1),16-17, 34-35.
  53. 53. Minimalist Normal Experimental Historical Typical Electronic Hand-made Common Web 2.0 Levels of technology & outdoor education Low tech High tech Intimate Tension Mid tech
  54. 54. Low tech Navigation High tech GPS Map Compass Sextant Google Earth Memory Songlines
  55. 55. Ö tzi's shoes <ul><li>Waterproof and wide (seemingly designed for walking across the snow)
  56. 56. Bearskin soles, deer hide for the top panels, netting made of tree bark.
  57. 57. Soft grass went around the foot and in the shoe and functioned like modern socks.
  58. 58. Plans for commercial production </li></ul>
  59. 59. Minimalist footwear High tech or low tech?
  60. 60. Oscar Pistorius “ Blade-runner” - the fastest man on no legs
  61. 61. Barefoot living?
  62. 62. <ul><li>Waterproof
  63. 63. Dropproof
  64. 64. Wind-up
  65. 65. Mesh
  66. 66. Educational
  67. 67. Cheap </li></ul>
  68. 68. OLPC-XO computer used for taking photos on a hike (Thailand)
  69. 69. OLPC-XO computer used for taking photos on a hike (Thailand)
  70. 70. Technology trends <ul><li>Web 2.0 (read/write web)
  71. 71. Mobility
  72. 72. Virtualisation
  73. 73. Singularity
  74. 74. Openess / Freedom </li></ul>
  75. 75. Diffusion of innovations (Rogers, 1962) Rogers, E. (1962) Diffusion of innovations . Free Press, NY.
  76. 76. Outdoor education: Across the technology spectrum Outdoor education could aim to educate across the technology spectrum
  77. 77. Outdoor education: Across the technology spectrum New & old technology could be synthesised towards our goals e.g., recreation, education, development, therapy, sustainability
  78. 78. Web 2.0 = Collaboration -> Collective Intelligence (via recording, sharing, reflection, discussing etc.)
  79. 79. Outdoor education - Wikipedia
  80. 80. Outdoor education - Wikiversity
  81. 81. Outdoor education - Wikibooks
  82. 82. Jessica Watson: Youngest Solo Circumnavigation Attempt http://www.jessicawatson.com.au/ http://youngestround.blogspot.com/
  83. 83. Jessica Watson: Most Watched Blog in Australia
  84. 84. Outdoor education groups e.g., on facebook
  85. 85. Apple Tree Flat Hike Route Start Cliff line safety River crossings Our Hike Route Off track hiking Unmarked Cliff lines
  86. 86. Glengarry Looking West Apple Tree Flat Camp Site 24km West of Glengarry
  87. 87. Collaborative mapping Community-generated Google Map of Ropes Course locations
  88. 88. Collaborative mapping: Google Picasa + Google Maps
  89. 89. Greenwich Emotion Map
  90. 90. Photo-sharing
  91. 91. Tag Cloud
  92. 92. Future OE conferences <ul><li>Live streamed presentations
  93. 93. Auto-recorded & uploaded
  94. 94. Hashtags: </li><ul><li>#NOEC2010, #NOEC2012
  95. 95. #OECurriculum </li></ul><li>Back-channel conversations
  96. 96. Editable, commentable, mashable </li></ul>
  97. 97. Bio feed back
  98. 98. Biofeedback
  99. 99. Mood ring
  100. 100. Infield biofeedback tools to enhance stress management training (ORIC, 2008, 2009)
  101. 101. Virtual Worlds Virtual worlds computer-based simulated environments
  102. 102. What “outdoor education” can we do in virtual worlds?
  103. 103. Botanical Landscaping, Garden and Environmental Design Center (Second Life)
  104. 104. Camping in the digital wilderness
  105. 105. Augmented reality Live view of a real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery - creating a mixed reality .
  106. 106. Milgram's Reality-Virtuality Continuum Milgram, P., & Kishino, A. F. (1994). Taxonomy of mixed reality visual displays. IEICE Transactions on Information and Systems , E77-D(12), 1321-1329.
  107. 107. QR codes
  108. 108. QR codes
  109. 109. Wikitude World Browser http://www.wikitude.org/
  110. 110. Augmented reality: Social applications
  111. 111. Discussion <ul><li>Practices? (What are we doing?)
  112. 112. Issues? (Problems encountered?)
  113. 113. Ideas? (What could we do?)
  114. 114. Opportunities? (Collaborations?) </li></ul>
  115. 115. References <ul><li>Boyle, I. (2008). Technology and outdoor education. http://www.slideshare.net/digger_boyle/technology-and-outdoor-ed-presentation
  116. 116. Green, J., Schnädelbach, H., Koleva, B., Benford, S., Pridmore, T., & Medina, K. (2002). Camping in the digital wilderness: tents and flashlights as interfaces to virtual worlds. In Proceedings of CHI '02 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems , Minneapolis, MI, 780-781. Retrieved January 10, 2010, from http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/research/groups/interact/publications/chi02.pdf
  117. 117. Milgram, P., & Kishino, A. F. (1994). Taxonomy of mixed reality visual displays. IEICE Transactions on Information and Systems , E77-D(12), 1321-1329.
  118. 118. Priest, S. (1999). National life cycles in outdoor adventure programming .  The Outdoor Network, 10 (1),16-17, 34-35.
  119. 119. Rogers, E. (1962). Diffusion of innovations . Free Press, NY.
  120. 120. South, D. (2009). The use of infield bio-feedback tools to enhance stress management training . Presentation to the Outdoor Recreation Industry Council Conference, Novotel Hotel, Sydney. </li></ul>

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