Naturalists' Perspectives on the Use of Mobile Technology During a Nature Hike
Naturalists act as our link between scientific knowledge and the public’s understanding of natural history and conservation efforts. In order for them to succeed, they need access to reference materials as well as up-to-date information (Mankin, Warner, & Anderson, 1999). Incorporating mobile technology (i.e. tablets) into naturalists’ endeavors in natural history and environmental education can be used as supportive and educational tools. My project investigated how newly trained naturalists used tablet technology while leading groups of children on nature hikes. I investigated naturalists’ views on the use of mobile technology as a tool during the hikes. My research was guided by Roschelle’s (2003) Attention Participation framework, which recognizes that mobile technology can support participation as well as attention in a task in an informal learning environment. My participants (10 for research question one, 13 for research question two) included university students who received naturalist training who guided nature hikes of young children. I used a qualitative approach to collect and analyze data. Data sources include video observations and field notes taken during the hikes, and semi-structured interviews conducted after the hikes. found that overall the naturalists would use the tablets as a reference and to introduce each part of the hike to the children. I also found that all of the naturalists held a positive attitude on including tablets into nature hikes. My project provides an understanding of how naturalists used tablets as educational tools during a nature hike and what their perceptions were of the tablet use.
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