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Title: Learning with an app? It’s a walk in the park
Author: Pombo, Lúcia
Issue Date: Jun-2018
Publisher: The Association for Science Education
Abstract: As teachers, our first thought about mobile devices is that the gap between their use inside and outside school can lead to students’ disengagement with learning activities in formal education, impacting negatively on their academic success (Reyes et al., 2012). However, in a technology-driven society, educators can take advantage of the pervasiveness of mobile devices to innovate their practices and enhance authentic learning. New technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), are claimed to create conditions that promote students’ enjoyment, motivation and involvement in learning (Akçayır and Akçayır, 2017). The use of mobile games in formal education has also been shown to promote student engagement, leading to deeper and more authentic learning (Robson et al., 2015). The recent proliferation of mobile devices and applications (apps) makes AR technology accessible to support learning anytime anywhere, even in outdoor environments such as urban green parks. Urban green parks are areas of high ecological and environmental value that should be preserved; this requires the community to have positive attitudes about conservation and sustainability. In addition to the use of urban green spaces for relaxation, leisure and physical exercise, there is much scope for environmental education and nature conservation. The EduPARK Research and Development Project ( has developed an interactive AR mobile app supporting geocaching activities in outdoor environments to create situated learning opportunities to be explored in the Infante D. Pedro Park in Aveiro, Portugal (Figure 1). This park is a large green area, with exotic and native botanic species, avifauna, a lake and several historical points of interest. It enables learning about conservation and sustainability, with understanding of different ecosystems boosted by experiences in real environments, influencing communities’ attitudes to nature.
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