Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology & Associate Professor at Royal Roads University

Category: adventure learning

A summary of the Adventure Learning approach to education

Posted on July 31st, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, scholarship. No Comments

Readers of this blog may be interested in a short encyclopedia entry, summarizing the adventure learning approach to education that colleagues and I are using in a few of our projects (e.g., YoTeach and AL Water expeditions). The paper also summarizes productive avenues for future research:

Veletsianos, G. (2012). Adventure Learning. In Seel, N. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 157-160). Springer Academic.

Notable Adventure Learning Projects

Posted on January 19th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, courses. 2 comments

I am finalizing my syllabus for the class I am teaching this semester, entitled Design and Development of Adventure Learning, and I thought that others might benefit from this list of technology-enhanced projects relating to adventure, expedition, and the outdoors. If you are interested in learning that happens outside of the classroom, the use of the outdoors in education, the use of technology in enhancing outdoor learning, and the use of narratives in education, then the following projects will interest you:

Student Adventure Learning Project: Why We Don’t Teach

Posted on May 10th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, courses, my research, online learning, sharing. No Comments

This is the second entry on student projects developed during my Spring 2011 Adventure Learning course. Students in this class  developed online learning environments using the Adventure Learning approach, and one team focused their project on teachers who leave the profession and examined their reasons for doing so. I particularly enjoyed this project because (a) it informs an important and pertinent topic, and (b) it departs from traditional adventure learning projects, treating “adventure” as a location-independent activity. What follows is a description of the project, largely based on student text:

Video from student project depicting one of the project findings: Studies have shown that one of the major reasons
that teachers leave the profession is related to what they consider to be bureaucratic or administrative issues.

Why We Don’t Teach is an Adventure Learning project intended to give policy makers, administrators, and others interested in the current state of public education in the United States an understanding of why teachers are leaving the profession. It has recently been shown that the shortage of quality teachers we are facing as a nation stems from problems of retention rather than problems of recruitment. According to one study, nearly 50% of all teachers leave the field within their first five years of teaching.

Why is this happening? While this topic is complex with many factors that confound easy remediation, the Why We Don’t Teach environment offers resources and curriculum (e.g., Session 1, Session 2, Session 3) for exploring the issue both systemically and from the perspective of teachers who have left the profession.

Student Adventure Learning Project: GrowPlantHere!

Posted on May 9th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, courses, online learning. No Comments

During Spring 2011, I taught a course on Adventure Learning, which is an approach to designing open-ended online learning environments that provide learners with opportunities to explore real-world issues through collaborative, experiential, and inquiry-based learning experiences. Students in this class had to develop an online learning environment using this approach, and what follows is one student project, as described by students themselves:

GrowPlantHere! is a hybrid learning project. Our three garden adventurers planted their own gardens and shared their experiences in order to provide the framework for a lesson plan that teaches the fundamentals of urban gardening. The curriculum was devised for a classroom of adults participating in a 4-week informal class. The nature of the curriculum is focused squarely on Austin, and field trips have been included to local gardening sites. However, the issues of sustainability, self-reliance, and health are universal and often discussed to bring prospective to the project. This online learning environment serves not only to serve up the curriculum and date we created for GrowPlantHere!, but also to provide a place for students, experts, instructors, and the garden adventurers to connect. Students are encouraged to share pictures, ask questions of experts on our resources page, and post about their home gardens in the forum. As they progress, they can read about the garden adventurers as they take on the same tasks and experience the same frustrations and victories.

YoTeach.US: Adventure Learning project

Posted on October 26th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, emerging technologies, online learning, open, sharing. 2 comments

We are in our second week of our latest Adventure Learning project and I am really excited to be working with a group of committed graduate students on this! It is called YoTeach.US and is currently being used in a large sociology course at UT. The aim of the project is to assist sociology students in exploring the relationship between large social forces and individual behaviors and actions. Outside of that course, the project is also intended to be a free resource for students and educators when discussing teacher roles, teacher excellence, and memorable teachers. Here’s a small audio teaser:

Cesar: The teacher’s role by veletsianos

Adventure Learning is an approach to learning design that involves students in the authentic, experiential, and collaborative exploration of topics of interest. It usually revolves around an adventure or a narrative, and engages students in inquiry-based activities. For instance, the GoNorth adventure learning projects have been admired as an example of an innovative approaches to education. A review of research on adventure learning is available at the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning journal.

In our project, our team traveled through the city of Austin and asked individuals to respond to the following:

  • What is the role of the teacher/instructor?
  • Tell us a story about your most memorable teacher.

These contributions were then compiled into mini documentaries and shared on the online learning environment. At the same time, we crowdsourced contributions online and received notes, audio files, and short videos from Texas, California, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin from students, teachers, parents, professors, and researchers. Once student exploration with this topic ends, they will then investigate the relationship between social forces and individual choices within their own communities, create digital artifacts on this exploration, and discuss the results of their research with others.

As always, this project is free to use. If you do use the project or media in your courses, we’d love to hear about it, and if you have any questions or concerns, please lets us know!

Videos on Teacher Roles and Memorable Teachers

Posted on October 6th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, E-learning, emerging technologies, online learning, open, sharing. 3 comments

Teachers, Parents, Principals, Professors, Students, Researchers, and all the shades in-between: We’d like to hear from you! My research/development team (Cesar Navaerrete, Greg Russell*, and Janice Rios) has been diligently working with me on a project in which we intend to study the diverse roles of teachers. The goal of our activity is to collect and share as many ideas and opinions as possible.

And, what a better way to learn about this, by asking all of you to share your thoughts with us in the form of a video! Some of you may have seen examples of crowdsourced video already. For instance, Alan Levine’s Amazing Stories of Openness serves as one of the models we are using for this project. And the Learning Technologies group at the University of Minnesota (Aaron, Charlie, & Cassie) is traveling around the globe to create a narrative around the question “what is education?

Our goal here is to build a collection of user-created videos on the topic of teacher’s roles and create a freely-available curriculum for anyone interested in exploring the topic. The more voices shared, the more open and diverse the discussion can be.  Thus, we hope that if you have a few spare minutes, you might contribute a video clip and add your own perspective.

If you’d like to help out, we would greatly appreciate your response to one of the following:

  • What should the role(s) of a teacher be?
  • Tell us a story about your most memorable teacher.

Talk about your thoughts as they relate to your background, beliefs, or practices! There are no correct answers and we aren’t looking for one single answer. The definition of “teacher” is also fluid: it can be a k-12 teacher, a professor, or a family member who acted as a teacher, a coach, or someone/something else that you consider to be a teacher.

Your contribution should be a short (45-90 sec.) video clip of your ‘off-the-cuff’ response, recorded with a webcam or digital camera.   There is no need for editing, HD, or a great deal of planning.  Just keep it short and simple.  But, don’t let us constrain your creativity. When you are finished upload it to Youtube or Vimeo and either post a link on the comments, email us a link (veletsianos |AT| gmail.com), or send us a note on twitter at @veletsianos or @mrgsrussell

Another example of the videos we have so far is below:

We will be posting a portion of interviews onto our project’s website; therefore, you must be willing to have your video published online. A link to the site will be posted within the next two weeks

Thank you in advance for your time and help!

George, Greg, Cesar, Janice

* This entry has largely been written by Greg Russell, one of our first-year PhD students at UT Austin.

Technologies to support Adventure Learning projects

Posted on May 19th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, online learning, sharing. 4 comments

I am often asked how Adventure Learning projects come together. The usual question goes something like this, “It seems that there are so many technologies used to create an Adventure Learning project. How do you bring it all together?” The answer is rather simple actually: You center the project on an narrative and you use technological and social affordances to bring the narrative to life. Here is a simple example, that excludes any kind of interaction, other than the option to reply via comments on this post:

Saturday was a beautiful day.  The shining sun was appealing enough to put an end to my plans to work.

My partner in crime and I got our bikes and sought to explore parts of town off the beaten path. Art Alliance Austin was hosting an art fair and that was our destination. This is the story of our adventure to the fair and the art we encountered during our trip. Urban biking can sometimes be a challenge, but it’s mostly a fulfilling experience if you take the time to pause and look around. I ride a 2008 Marin Muirwoods. It’s a rugged, steel-framed city bike that allows me to go off-road quite easily. I rode this same bike in Minneapolis, MN, Manchester (UK) and Austin, TX and it has always been reliable.

The trip started a few miles North of the University of Texas at Austin. I am posting the route below along with placemarks of interest along the way. The route was automatically created via MyTracks which is an application for Android-based phones that records GPS tracks. I turned on the application when I started the trip and turned it off at the end of the trip. At times when I wanted to note locations of interest, I added points to MyTracks which then appeared on the map. The final map along with the 8 markers I added are shown below.


Each time I added a marker, I also took a picture. Each picture can therefore be mapped to the marker on the map above. In addition, if you select street view on the map above you may be able to match the picture to the images there (except perhaps in the cases where I was cycling through the alleys!). Geotagged pictures can also be added automatically to a map.

Our first stop was Sparky Park. This is an Austin Energy substation that was converted to a “pocket” park. We found this by accident, but is was quite fitting that we came across it on our way to the art fair!

From there, we rode towards downtown. The trees provided much needed coverage from the sun and it was great riding through the residential neighborhoods and looking at old houses. At some point we decided to cross Guadalupe Street which is one of the main Austin streets and runs right by the University of Texas.


View Larger Map

We quickly abandoned the plan to stay on that street because of the number of cars and people that were on it, and got on side streets again. That’s when we came across the following graffiti, celebrating UT Austin’s football team. Now, I’m not really into football, but from what I hear, UT has a pretty good football team with a dedicated following. That’s probably a topic for a different post though!

Riding past the university and towards downtown still, the next form of public “art” encountered was one of Austin’s still-standing moonlight towers. These structures were built in the late 1800′s as a way to provide light to the city. Originally, there were 31 of these structures in Austin – nowadays, there are only 15 towers left, while, according to Wikipedia, Austin is the only city left that still operates this system (as part of the “keep Austin weird” program I am assuming! )… To provide more contextual information, I “checked in” at this location using Gowalla.

The first leg of our journey ended at Lady Bird lake – which is named after Lady Bird Johnson former first lady and wife of Lyndon B. Johnson. Our very own Learning Technology Center at UT Austin keeps a presidential timeline of the 20th century along with digitized assets and information on LBJ is of course available.

The trip included many more highlights, but this short example provides the main ideas behind designing adventure learning experiences for real-world, participatory, and inquiry-based experiences that capitalize on events that happen outside of the classroom. Literature on adventure learning and these ideas can be found in my publications page.

And for those of you interested in data and the use of data to help teach relevant topics, here’s the graph of the trip!