“What was once simply a dream is now a reality.” This is just one of the comments from the thousands of teachers who have used past and current adventure learning (AL) projects in their classrooms.
Adventure learning is a hybrid distance education approach that provides students with opportunities to explore real-world issues through authentic learning experiences within collaborative learning environments (Doering, 2006; Doering, 2007). Specifically, this hybrid approach includes educational activities that work in conjunction with the authentic experiences of researchers in the field. Within an AL program, the curriculum, the travel experiences and observations of the researchers, and the online learning environment are delivered concomitantly so students are able to make connections among what is happening in the real world, their studies, and the collaboration and interaction within the online learning environment.
Doering (2006; 2007) and then Doering and Miller (2009) developed and refined a theoretical framework to guide adventure learning projects throughout the world. This framework includes nine principles (fig. 1):
- the identification of an issue and respective location of exploration
- a researched curriculum grounded in problem-solving that guides the progression and evolution of the AL program
- collaboration and interaction opportunities between students, experts, peers, explorers, and content
- education that is adventure-based
- exploration of the issue, environment, local population, culture, and additional relevant factors that provide an authentic narrative for students and teachers to follow
- design and utilization of an Internet-driven learning environment for curricular organization, collaboration, and media delivery
- enhancement of the curriculum with media (e.g., photos, video, audio, etc.) and text delivered from the field in a timely manner
- synched learning opportunities with the AL curriculum and online learning environment
- pedagogical integration guidelines and strategies for the curriculum and online learning environment
Figure 1. Guiding principles of the AL framework
Adding Earthducation to the long list of successful AL programs is very exciting. To-date, AL has reached more than three million learners annually (across all fifty states and the entire globe). Doering and his team at the University of Minnesota designed and delivered the following AL programs as they dogsledded throughout the circumpolar Arctic.
GoNorth! 2010 Greenland
Brought focus to our oceans and to Greenland and the Kalaallit people as the team explored approaches to sustainable development of the ocean’s resources, sharing their journey and discoveries with millions of schoolchildren worldwide.
|GoNorth! 2009 Nunavut
The team explored the consequences of transboundary pollution while traveling along the spine of Baffin Island and up the coast of the Arctic Ocean and Baffin Bay in the land of the Inuktitut people.
|GoNorth! 2008 Fennoscandia
The team traveled 1,000 miles by dogsled across Arctic Sweden, Finland, and Norway in the Sápmi region, investigating the issues of deforestation with the Sámi people.
|GoNorth! 2007 Chukotka
Traveling to what is considered the most remote Arctic region, the team explored culture and the use of mineral resources in the last secret outpost of the former Soviet Union. Geographically isolated, the peninsula is considered one of the least known places on earth.
|GoNorth! 2006 Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The team journeyed across northeastern Alaska through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, stopping at five Native communities and one oil platform along the way. This program explored the impact of oil exploration and sustainable development of the Earth’s natural resources.
|Arctic Transect 2004
A 6-month, 3,000-mile traverse of the Canadian Arctic from Yellowknife, NWT, to Pond Inlet, Nunavut, this expedition documented climate change in the Arctic. The team met with Inuit Elders and students enroute and explored traditional ecological knowledge in the remote communities along the trail.
Examples of Published Research on Adventure Learning
Veletsianos, G., & Doering, A. (2010). Long-term student experiences in a hybrid, open-ended and problem based Adventure Learning program. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(2), 280-296.
Doering, A., Scharber, C., Riedel, E. & Miller, C. (2010). “Timber for President”: Adventure Learning and Motivation. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 21(4), 483-513.
Doering, A., & Veletsianos, G. (2008). What lies beyond effectiveness and efficiency? Adventure Learning Design. The Internet and Higher Education, 11(3-4), 137-144.
Miller, C., Veletsianos, G., & Doering, A. (2008). Curriculum at forty below: A phenomenological inquiry of an educator explorer’s experiences with adventure learning in the Arctic. Distance Education, 29(3), 253-267.
Doering, A., & Veletsianos, G. (2008). Hybrid Online Education: Identifying Integration Models using Adventure Learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41 (1), 101-119.
Doering, A., Miller, C., & Veletsianos, G. (2008). Adventure Learning: Educational, social, and technological affordances for collaborative hybrid distance education. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 9(3), 249-266.
Doering, A., & Veletsianos, G. (2007). Multi-Scaffolding Learning Environment: An Analysis of Scaffolding and Its Impact on Cognitive Load and Problem-Solving Ability. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 37(2), 107-129.
Doering, A. (2006). Adventure learning: Transformative hybrid online education. Distance Education, 27(2), 197-215.