WHY ADVENTURE WORKS IN (TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED) EDUCATION
Adventure has been incorporated into education in multiple ways throughout history, including through literature, outdoor and physical education, and most recently, technology. Technology has enhanced and expanded the types of adventures we can engage in today, both through advances in equipment and tools that allow us to explore phenomena that were previously inaccessible. For example, learners can virtually journey along with explorers and scientists to the far-reaches of the world.
This paper offers an overview of how adventure has traditionally been employed in education, discusses differences between adventure education and adventure learning, shares research conducted on adventure learning, and advances suggestions for how adventure may be used most effectively in technology-enhanced learning.
In adventure education (AE), participants are physically or psychologically challenged, with a focus on risk-taking, problem solving, and personal growth (Berry & Hodgson, 2011). Typical desired learning outcomes include enhanced self-concept and interpersonal skill building (Hattie, Marsh, Neill & Richards, 1997). AE has taken the form of team/trust building, cooperative games, and outdoor risk challenges. It typically targets small groups, with the learning limited to the individual and the small group. AE is often associated with environmental education, and typically employed in informal or nonformal settings.
Adventure learning (AL; Doering, 2006) extends adventure beyond the realm of individual and small-group participation, and from informal to formal education. It is a form of hybrid distance education that blends experiential (Dewey, 1938) and inquiry-based (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999) approaches. Grounded in a strong curriculum and pedagogy, an exciting adventure-based narrative, and place-based concepts of learning (Sobol, 2004), AL emphasizes real-world problem solving and merges an online learning environment with teacher-led classroom activities. It has been shown to have a positive influence on student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes, and to be a successful model for teaching and learning across the curriculum (Doering, 2007; Doering & Miller, 2009; Doering & Veletsianos, 2008; Doering, Scharber, Riedel, & Miller, 2010; Moos & Honkomp, 2011; Veletsianos & Doering, 2010; Veletsianos, Doering, & Henrickson, 2012).
An emerging concept that merges components of both AL and AE is user-driven AL environments (UDALE) (Doering & Miller, 2009). In such environments, learners create and share self-initiated AL projects online, thus engaging in their own physical adventure while concurrently educating others about a real-world issue and employing technology for data collection and collaborating online. In all these models, adventure is key. It serves not only as a “hook” to draw the learner or participant into the learning pursuit, but also introduces a challenge to the learner along with an element of risk and uncertainty via the opportunity to embark on an inquiry-based exploration.