I’ve been looking in to technologies that help observe a free choice learning experience from the learner perspective. My research interests center on interactions between learners and informal educators, and so I wanted a technology that helped record interactions from the learner perspective, but were as least obtrusive on that interaction as possible.

Originally I was interested in using handheld technologies (such as smartphones) for this task. Here the idea was to have the learner wear a handheld on a lanyard which would automatically tag and record their interactions with informal educators via QR codes or augmented reality symbols. However, this proved more complicated than originally thought (and produced somewhat dodgy video recordings!), so we looked for a simpler approach.

I am currently exploring how Bluetooth headsets can help this process. The “looxcie” is basically a Bluetooth headset equipped with a camera, which can be paired to a handheld device for recording or work independently. Harrison is expertly modeling this device in the photos. I am in the process of starting to pilot this technology in the visitor center, and have spent some time with the volunteer interpreters at HMSC demonstrating how this might be used for my research. Maureen and Becca helped me produce a test video at the octopus tank (link below).




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “Observing from the learner perspective

  1. ok, I’m intrigued for several reasons:
    1) what a great way to engage visitors in research that puts them in the traditional position of power! Wearing the camera, they become the observer controlling the lens and the staff become the observed. What sort of feedback are you getting from the visitors as to their experience of participating in the project? Do they get to see and discuss what they recorded?

    2) I am wondering if this could be useful technology for me to use for a potential SED 566 (Fostering reflective discourse in science) project. I will be assisting coaching a novice First Lego League team this fall on which my son will participate. I plan on using it as the free choice learning venue in which I conduct the course assignments. Since I am primarily interested in how I and the other coach foster science inquiry, making it easy for the kids to record us would likely be informative…

    • Jinnet,
      Thanks for your feedback! I’m really excited about this tool too, and am having A LOT of fun tweaking it for my research – I’m a firm believer in enjoying your thesis!

      1) I’m still in the pilot phase and testing visitor and docent recruitment procedures. As a result I have only been sending the looxcies out with fellow grad students as test subjects. Feedback from my test subjects though has been positive – so far they have shown to be comfortable to wear, and subjects almost forget they are wearing them after a few minutes. The footage has also been really interesting, with a huge scope for documenting interactions, and for other types of research, and subjects are interested in the process and outcomes. In terms of getting to view the footage, the great thing about the looxcies is that the video data is immediately available to subjects via a paired tablet or handheld device. The plan is therefore to have this as an option available if visitors wish to see their recordings.
      2) There is a HUGE scope for the use of this tool for other research and evaluation purposes in my opinion, and your project idea sounds like a great example.
      I’ve had many discussions about this tool being particularly useful for educators to reflect on their own practice, and your interests seem to fit that description. The level of detail that can be captured from video of the learner experience I feel is an important tool for understanding educational practice, and it seems these cameras simplify this process. In my work, it actually allows me to encompass visitors (learners) as “co-researchers” which I hope will also make the process more interesting, more fun and less intimidating for them. I encourage you to give these cameras a try!

Leave a reply