Examining the Impact of Spherical Videos in Teaching Endangered Species/Environmental Education to Primary School Students

Emmanuel Fokides, Melpomeni Kefallinou
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 19  •  2020  •  pp. 427-450

The study examined whether spherical videos are an effective tool in teaching primary school students subjects related to the endangered species. It also examined their feelings/attitudes towards this tool.

Young students have trouble understanding concepts related to environmental education and, specifically, concepts related to the endangered species. Spherical videos constitute an interesting alternative teaching tool, applicable in diverse scientific disciplines. Additionally, research in this field is rather unsystematic and fragmented, given that the underlying technology is still an emerging one.

A three conditions within-subjects design was applied. Forty-nine, nine-to-ten years-old primary school students attending public schools in Athens, Greece were selected to participate in the project. They had never before been formally taught subjects such as the ones included in the study and had no prior experience in using Google Cardboard compatible head-mounted displays. The participating students were taught using printed material, web pages, and interactive applications in which spherical videos were embedded. The project lasted for nine two-teaching-hour sessions (three for each tool). Data were collected using nine evaluation sheets. About a third of the questions in these tests assessed declarative knowledge, while the rest examined procedural and conditional knowledge. A validated scale was also used, designed to evaluate users’ experience when using digital educational applications. For analyzing the data (from both the evaluation sheets and the questionnaire), several repeated measures ANOVA tests were conducted using SPSS 25.

By examining the learning outcomes from the use of applications in which spherical videos were integrated, by contrasting their impact on knowledge with other tools, and by quantifying their differences, the present study extends the -rather limited- literature regarding the educational uses of this technology. Given that there is a lack of a well-defined teaching framework, the study contributes towards this end, as a modified version of Bybee’s 5Es was tested, with encouraging results.”

Post-hoc pairwise comparisons revealed statistically significant differences indicating that students’ performance when using the apps was better than their performance in the web pages and printed material. Statistically significant differences were also noted when analyzing the questionnaire’s data. In detail, the analysis revealed that the apps were considered more motivating compared with both the printed material and the web pages. The same applied to students’ enjoyment. Also, their sense of presence was stronger. Then again, all tools were considered as being equally useful. Finally, no usability issues were reported.

As the development of apps requires time and effort, a large pool of ready-made apps has to become available to educators. Spherical videos have to be used in the context of a well-defined teaching framework. A familiarization period on how HMDs are used and how to run and navigate in the apps will help to avoid usability issues. Education administrators have to implement reforms in the primary school timetable and curriculum, for achieving the seamless integration of this technology to everyday teaching.

Motivation and enjoyment can be further enhanced by adding game-like features. Thus, software developers can consider adding such features and researchers can examine their effects. A lot more can be done for making the apps utilizing spherical videos easier to handle and navigate. For example, hand tracking can be used, which is a more natural interaction method.

Besides larger sample sizes and more interventions, future research can examine the impact of spherical videos on student misconceptions, attitudes, and behaviors towards environmental issues. It would be interesting to examine the views and experiences of educators as well. Longitudinal studies and comparison of spherical videos with other promising technologies would also be useful.

endangered species, environmental education, primary school, spherical videos
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