Designing Immersive, Narrative-Based Interfaces to Guide Outdoor Learning

Alan Y. Cheng, Jacob Ritchie, Niki Agrawal, Elizabeth Childs, Cyan DeVeaux, Yubin Jee, Trevor Leon, Bethanie Maples, Andrea Cuadra, James A. Landay
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2023
Outdoor learning experiences, such as field trips, can improve children’s science achievement and engagement, but these experiences are often difficult to deliver without extensive support. Narrative in educational experiences can provide needed structure, while also increasing engagement. We created a narrative-based, mobile application to investigate how to guide young learners in interacting with their local, outdoor environment. In a second variant, we added augmented reality and image classification to explore the value of these features. A study (n=44) found that participants using our system demonstrated learning gains and found the experience engaging. Our findings identified several major themes, including participant excitement for hands-on interactions with nature, curiosity about the characters, and enthusiasm toward typing their thoughts and observations. We offer a set of design implications for supporting narrative-based, outdoor learning with immersive technology.