The Fieldtrip Project: An Online Community Featuring Teens’ Cellcam Films Sparked Substantive Peer Discussion

By Lee Boot, Linda Baker, Susan Sonnenschein, David Gurzick and Colleen Sullivan.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Educators have long known that issues beyond those directly related to school and the classroom, influence education outcomes. However, working with young people to address such issues has been problematic as they often involve family, community and even the larger culture. Further, older teens, particularly those at the largest risk of dropping out, do not necessarily assume adults can help them. This paper describes a study that utilized peer-to-peer interaction—an activity known to affect beliefs, attitudes and behaviors among young people, to better understand what circumstances might cause teenagers to reflect upon, discuss and try to co-create ways to address issues that affect their engagement in school and learning. A transdisciplinary research team established a structure and instrumentation that allowed teen filmmakers to create and post films they thought would stimulate worthwhile discussions amongst an online community of their peers, and record the activity. Teenage filmmakers selected for the project decided that authenticity of their voices should be a crucial characteristic of the films and the site overall in order to attract older teenagers who were possibly jaded and whose ages made their life and school-related choices particularly important. Seventy-six short films helped stimulate hundreds of text posts during the month-long pilot. Analysis of the text showed it closely linked to issues that research on motivation has indicated affects engagement in learning.

Keywords: Adolescents, Cell Phones, Co-created Knowledge, Collaborative Learning, Education, Engagement, Filmmakers, Films, Learning, Mobile Phones, Motivation, Online, Online Communities, Peer-to-peer, Peers, School, Social Networking, Websites

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.79-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.823MB).

Lee Boot

Research Associate Faculty and Associate Director, Imaging Research Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

Lee Boot’s work is in researching how various media and communication technologies can be used to weave societies most valuable knowledge into the fabric of culture. The work often applies timeless principles of art making to new media efforts to address longstanding social issues, and measures the results. To this end, he has made an NIH-funded feature film expressing what is known about building rewarding lives, including the neuroscience related to happiness. The film, Euphoria, won the Gold Award for documentary at Houston World Fest and will be released in 2007. This and other projects use a transdisciplinary approach to message identification and media development, as well as ways of distributing media. Together, the work constitutes a new research thread with significant potential to save lives and resources through prevention and awareness. Lee and his wife, artist Stacy Arnold, live in Baltimore, MD with their two children.

Dr. Linda Baker

Professor, Psychology Department, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

Linda Baker is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at UMBC. Her research interests include metacognition and comprehension monitoring, early literacy development, motivation for reading, parental influences on educational achievement, and instructional interventions to improve school readiness and achievement. In addition to publishing numerous articles and book chapters, she co-edited Developing Engaged Readers in School and Home Communities (1996) and Engaging Young Readers: Promoting Achievement and Motivation (2000), and she co-authored Becoming Literate in the City: The Baltimore Early Childhood Project (with R. Serpell and S. Sonnenschein, Cambridge, 2005). She served as an associate editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology and is a member of the editorial boards of other journals in literacy, education, and child development. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association.

Dr. Susan Sonnenschein

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

Susan Sonnenschein is the graduate program director of the Applied Developmental Psychology program at UMBC. Her research focuses primarily on aspects of educational development in children from different sociocultural groups, particularly children from low income backgrounds. One area of inquiry has been literacy and language development, with an emphasis on how parental beliefs and practices are related to children’s development in these areas. Dr. Sonnenschein, along with several colleagues, recently published a book discussing the results of their federally funded 5-year longitudinal study of literacy development in young children from different sociocultural groups. A large focus of that study was a consideration of how parental beliefs and practices foster children’s literacy appropriation; that is, their reading and writing skills, as well as their motivations for reading. A follow-up inquiry which revisited the children and families when the now adolescents were in 11 th grade showed the continuing impact of the early home environment on later literacy development.

David Gurzick

Managing Associate, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

David explores the role of technology in the social lives of individuals and communities. This broad area of research includes online community design,online, expression of social identity, computer-mediated comunication (CMC, computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW, and Internet communication technology (ICT). Now an instructor at Hood College in Maryland, Mr. Gurzick has worked at Sonum Technologies, Inc. as Director of Research, been a Software Engineer at ExpoExchange, LLC and a Software Developer at Plural. He is a full-time doctoral student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in the Information Systems department and lives with his wife in Frederick, Maryland.

Colleen Sullivan

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

Colleen Sullivan’s research focuses primarily on aspects of academic motivation in students in elementary school through post-secondary education. An area of her inquiry has been the development of academic motivation which begins in elementary school, and changes that occur throughout a school career that positively and negatively affect students’ overall feelings towards the educational environment. In addition, Colleen Sullivan is currently working on her dissertation, which explores the academic transition first-year college students experience and it’s impact on academic performance, motivation, and retention.