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Does the use of Place Affect Learner Engagement? The Case of GeoStoryteller on the Streets of New York

Drs. Anthony Cocciolo and Debbie Rabina (2012) Does the use of Place Affect Learner Engagement? The Case of GeoStoryteller on the Streets of New York, Proceedings of the 2012 iConference

The aim of this research project is to uncover if place-based learning can increase learner engagement and understanding of historical topics. To study this, learners will use GeoStoryteller to learn about a historical topic on the places where those events occurred, and then be interviewed by the researchers. GeoStoryteller is a tool developed by the researchers that runs on smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone. It provides the user multimedia stories about the historical sites, delivered via the mobile web or through Layar, an augmented reality web browser. Place provides the learner with a meaningful entry point to the topic and one that increases the topic’s prominence within an information environment that is seemingly limitless. This environment—for those who have broadband connections to the Internet—is constantly growing in interesting facts and resources yet proves difficult for the user in determining what is worth knowing, creating what individuals often describe as information overload (e.g., Shirky, 2008). Whereas the Internet is seemingly unbounded, geographic space has the advantage of being finite and inherently understood. Providing users with meaningful entry points to information, such as through the use of already familiar places, is hypothesized to increase engagement and subsequent understanding.

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