Mobile augmented reality supporting families’ immersive collaborative learning: Learning-on-the-move for place-based geoscience sense-making

Heather Toomey Zimmerman, Susan M. Land, Lillyanna Faimon, Yu Chen Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We investigated how families experienced immersion as they collaboratively made sense of geologic time and geoscience processes during a place-based, learning-on-the-move (LOTM) experience mediated by a mobile augmented reality (MAR) app. Our team developed an MAR app, Time Explorers, that focused on how rock-water interactions shaped Appalachia over millions of years. Data were collected at the Children’s Garden at the Arboretum at Penn State. Data sources were videos of app usage, point-of-view camera recordings with audio capturing family conversations, and interviews from 17 families (51 people). The analytical technique was interaction analysis, in which episodes of family sense-making were identified and developed into qualitative vignettes focused on how immersion did or did not support learning about geoscience and geologic time. We analyzed how design elements supported sensory, actional, narrative, and social immersion through photo-taking, discussion prompts, and augmented reality visualizations. Findings showed that sensory and social immersion supported sense-making conversations and observational inquiry, while narrative and actional immersion supported deep family engagement with the geoscience content. At many micro-sites of learning, families engaged in multiple immersive processes where conversations, observational inquiry, and deep engagement with the geoscience came together during LOTM. This analysis contributes to the CSCL literature on theory related to LOTM in outdoor informal settings, while also providing design conjectures in an immersive, family-centered, place-based LOTM framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-322
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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