How can a design-based research methodology that utilises Mixed-Reality (MR) Technologies be utilized to effectively enhance learning for authentic, high-risk situations?
Even experienced mountain climbers underestimate key dangers and make poor decisions in stressful, high-risk situations when climbing, leading to injury and death. My own experience indicates that effective education can play a key role in managing these risks and improving experienced climber’s decision making. Current educational approaches for climbers, however, are generally limited to textbooks and ‘on the mountain’ learning. It is vital, therefore, that new approaches and methods are developed to improve learning.
My own experience and emergent case studies indicate that AR (Augmented), VR (Virtual Reality) and MR (Mixed Reality), have affordances (possibilities offered by the technology) to underpin new forms of learning and therefore have the potential to enhance education for high-risk environments. Emergent use of MR immersive technologies includes classroom learning, firefighting and military training. An initial review of literature has indicated though that there are very limited examples of rigorous research on the design and application of MR technologies in authentic education, especially for extreme situations such as mountaineering i.e., no one has rigorously designed for these technologies for learning in extreme environments, evaluated learning outcomes and theorised about how learning can be enhanced.
In response to this gap/opportunity, this research explores the potential of MR technologies to effectively enhance learning for authentic, high-risk situations. The research will use a Design-based research methodology (DBR) to develop design principles informed by key learning theories as they offer recognised and critical approaches for a new way of learning in an extreme environment. Underpinned by a Constructivist paradigm, initial theoretical frameworks identified include Authentic Learning and Heutagogy (student-determined learning).Herrington and co-authors (2009) recommended 11 design principles for the incorporation of mobile learning into a higher education learning environment, and Blaschke and Hase (2015)’s 10 principles of designing learning for heutagogy. Other theories and frameworks include Constructivist Learning and the ZPD (the Zone of Proximal Development), design for mobile MR learning and user-centred design. Activity Theory will also be utilised in the data analysis.
Initial design principles will be developed by the DBR methodology. These design principles will be tested through the implementation and evaluation of an MR ‘prototype’ app design solution.’ The prototype solution will be iteratively redesigned using further evaluation and feedback from sample cohorts of end-users. Data will be collected from key participant interviews, researcher observation/reflections and biometric feedback. Methodological triangulation (multimodal data approach) will be used to evaluate learning outcomes. The iterative development will lead to transferable design principles and further theorising that can be transferred to other learning situations involving preparation and decision-making as well as knowledge in high-risk contexts.
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