Tools for Designing Mobile Interaction with the Physical Environment in Outdoor Lessons

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University

Abstract: Mobile technologies are increasingly being used to support students in outdoor learning activities. For instance, in a growing number of research projects, smartphones and positioning technologies are being used to support students in exploring the natural environment. However, previous research has identified challenges with the introduction of mobile technology into outdoor lessons. One fundamental challenge is that interaction with mobile technology in outdoor lessons may distract students from interacting with the physical environment. In this thesis this challenge is approached from the perspective of human-computer interaction, guided by the following research question: How can we design, evaluate, and reflect on mobile technology for interacting with the physical environment in outdoor lessons? The thesis presents four design cases on outdoor geometry and biology lessons, which act as probes for developing conceptual design tools. The design cases were developed through a concept-driven design approach and evaluated on field tests with primary school students. Future workshop and Interaction analysis were the main methods used. The results of the field tests suggest that mobile technology needs to be designed to orientate students in their interaction with the physical environment. In line with the concept-driven design approach, the thesis proposes three design tools. The design tools proposed are: Design guidelines that are specific enough for guiding the design of mobile technology for outdoor lessons, a Design model for designing and evaluating mobile technology for outdoor lessons, and Design concepts for reflecting on the placement of mobile technology in outdoor lessons. The design tools are proposed as tools for researchers and designers to take the challenge of distraction into account in designing mobile technology for outdoor lessons.