H.P. McKenna1, S.A. Chauncey2

1AmbientEase (CANADA)
This paper describes a proposed exploratory research project designed to investigate the concept of a frictionless learning environment (FLE). Motivated by the wicked, challenging, and complex issues facing 21st century educators, learners, and communities, this study will design, develop, and implement a minimally viable frictionless learning environment with a special population of high school students. Utilizing and expanding upon existing theory and constructs for 21st century formal and informal learning spaces, this study extends beyond current understandings of a classroom to form part of, and contribute to, the learning dimension of interactive smart cities.

Combining the frictionless learning environment (FLE) with activity theory (AT), the resulting innovative FLEAT model is proposed, serving to operationalize and support "smart team" engagement. Through collaborative real-world problem solving, mediated by emerging, next generation, and existing information and communications technologies (ICTs), students, educators, diverse cross-agency partners and community members form "smart teams" with a common goal of generating solutions that have the potential to impact policy and action locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

The research design employed for assessing the effectiveness of the FLEAT innovation consists of: 1) a quasi-experimental, multiple time-series design used to accommodate an exploration of the 3 iterative refinements of the innovation's implementation and delivery; and 2) a mini-ethnographic participatory observation using a "story telling" approach. Participatory observations will be triangulated with quasi-experimental artifact, survey, and interview data and analysis. This mixed methods research approach supports exploration of the research questions and hypothesized intended outcomes which are designed to surface key variables that may not be well known or understood in the context of the technology-rich FLEAT innovation.

This project will advance knowledge in the learning domain; in technology-rich learning environments; within the learning dimension of smart cities; and contribute to a range of theoretical perspectives on learning. More broadly, this project has the potential to generate benefits for society in that the research study may serve as a model for the learning city in action; with modifications, the research may be replicable and transferrable to other learning environments and to cities interested in developing learning cities; and this research may advance scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to the achievement of societally relevant outcomes generated by motivated, curious, interested, and engaged learners.

Expressions of interest in this research are invited as well as partnerships, feedback, and other forms of support.