Increasing Engagement through Digital Augmentation

When looking all of the different options for websites that help students construct and communicate knowledge, I was blown away by the opportunities available to engage students with research that scientists are conducting around the world.  One of the websites that really interested me that I’m looking forward to trying with my class is the Expedition around the Canada ( for the 150th anniversary. This is an incredible opportunity for students to connect so many facets of science with Canada. I can see how this endeavor could be tied into multiple grade levels in the curriculum.  As the expedition travels through 6 ecozones, sciencitsts will conduct research to share with Canadians, talk to local communities, and discuss ways to protect the environment in live forums.


At schools we have environmental committees that allow students and staff to discuss ways to protect their environment.  This is also a topic that comes up in class discussions in social studies and science.  Involving a group of students in this kind of activity gives them the opportunity to discover what the regions are really like…at the present time. Rather than just reading about them in a textbook (that’s probably out of date) students can see the different ecosystems, ongoing methods of environmental protection.


According to Carraher (1985) the presence of physical items acts as a facilitating factor in allows students to understand a particular concept. There are ample opportunities through exploring the arctic that will allow students to connect and see first-hand how experiments are being conducted and how reconciliation is being undertaken in the Aboriginal communities.


In Yoon et al (2011) it was observed that digital augmentation resulted in increased levels of interest and engagement. Opportunities to provide experiences outside of the classroom environment through educational technologies can assist in the development of conceptual knowledge (Yoon et al, 2011). Students are then able to apply real world examples to their skillset in the areas of collecting data, making predictions, drawing conclusions, and theorizing about different phenomena. Sometimes just providing digital augmentation alone can provide huge gains even with no other scaffolds according to Yoon et al (2011). I wonder how educators can ensure that students challenge themselves when participating in digital augmentation? Would creating their own learning objectives translate into more engagement?





  • Yoon, S. A., Elinich, K., Wang, J., Steinmeier, C., & Tucker, S. (2012). Using augmented reality and knowledge-building scaffolds to improve learning in a science museum. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 7(4), 519-541. doi:10.1007/s11412-012-9156-x


  • Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W., & Dias Schliemann, A. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in schools. The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 3(1), 21.


  1. Tyler,

    You ask a very interesting question and one that I’ve been grappling with this week. Much of the discussion of this course has been on how to ensure that students are constructing their own knowledge that is relevant and useful. But some of the readings in the past few weeks have cautioned that virtual and augmented realities are inherently biased as they are programmed from the eyes of the software developer.

    Your question regarding allowing students to create their own learning objectives is interesting because it really brings to light what our own views on the goal of education is. On the one hand, we all want students to discover and enjoy learning. On the other hand, we are given a set of skills and criteria that students must meet for each grade level. So do we decide what skills and knowledge are necessary for students to become active participants in society, or do we give them more freedom in their learning knowing that they may not become proficient in all that they need to be?

    1. Hi Lawrence,

      Thanks for your comment! I feel the same way about assessing students. With the changing nature of curriculum its more and more difficult to develop some sort of standard assessment tool that can be used for all students in the class. I like your point about giving them more freedom in their learning and not really becoming proficient. With freedom of exploration, I can imagine several students in my class that just won’t push themselves and will take the easy way out of things.

    2. Hi Lawrence, I honestly do not think that there is one broad answer to your concluding question. Different subjects and different grades are going to have different demands and learning goals. For the most part, nurturing students’ individual curiosity is the way to go however, in specific senior subjects, an academic rigor with defined learning outcomes is appropriate, as far as I am concerned. Is it critical that a Grade 9 student recollect dates, cell organelles, or cloud types? Not as far as I am concerned. Order of operations, on the other hand, should be consistent and automated. Educational approaches that are “one-size-fits-all” make no sense to me, whatsoever. ~ Dana

  2. Great Tyler that you have checked out C3, Canada Coast to Coast to Coast. If you or anyone in the class would like to explore this further for your final assignment, please let me know. Some of my graduate students have participated in their creation of a national digital classroom and this involved submitting their lesson plan to the project and receiving feedback on it from C3. I shall share few materials to help make your decision for those who may be thinking of possible ideas for their final assignment.

    Thanks for sharing this initiative through your post,

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