AERA 2017: Doering research on EarthXplorers and WeExplore highlighted

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Two papers, jointly authored by Doering and LT Media Lab creative director Dr. Jeni Henrickson, were presented by Dr. Henrickson at the American Education Research Association (AERA) annual conference in San Antonio this year. The AERA annual conference is the largest gathering of scholars in the field of education research, with more than 15,000 attendees from around the world.

Make it Real: Designing Authentic Online GIS Learning for a K–12 Audience

Geographic knowledge and spatial thinking skills are key in today’s globally interdependent world. New tools and models are needed, however, to guide teachers and learners alike through the process of geographic inquiry using new technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS). EarthXplorers is a new online learning environment that integrates a GIS platform and takes an inquiry- and project-based approach to learning GIS. This environment uses U.S. historical sites of significance tied to contemporary issues to advance spatial thinking and geographic inquiry skills. Our study explores teacher and student engagement with EarthXplorers as it examines how geographic inquiry, spatial thinking, and creative problem-solving skills are impacted by engagement with an online learning environment centered on GIS learning using real-world examples.

Fostering Creativity and Innovation through Inquiry and Adventure in Online Learning Environment Design

Self-directed, inquiry-based learning opportunities focused on transdisciplinary real-world problem solving have been shown to foster creativity in learners. This study examines an adventure-based online learning environment and the role the learning environment design and teacher pedagogy and practice played in influencing creativity in the classroom. Data were gathered via interviews, direct observation, and focus groups as 95 high school students guided by 1 teacher worked in small groups to collaboratively design and present geography research using the WeExplore adventure learning environment. Findings indicate that teacher and student creativity were impacted by the unique learning environment design, the opportunity to define self-identified driving questions, the process of collaborative group work, and the opportunity to combine traditional research approaches with arts-influenced ones.