Walk Down George Street


Tamara Pearce

QUT Law School

The QUT Law School has used mobile technology to transform a traditional three day classroom intensive into an educational scavenger hunt, that builds friendships and intellectual curiosity. The project is called ‘Walk Down George Street’.

Law students need to quickly learn threshold concepts about the history, structure and function of the state government and legal system. The nature of this learning is low on Bloom's taxonomy (i.e. understand and remember) (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001) and needs to be consolidated before students can move onto the higher order skills and knowledge required in first year law subjects. Two first year lecturers, Dr. Elizabeth Dickson and Mr. James Duffy designed a scavenger hunt style activity to encourage more active learning (Bonwell & Eison, 1991) of these threshold concepts. A series of set questions, local area maps, bonus trivia items and links to relevant online resources, all accompanied stunning photography of the seven locations on the walk. The Law School’s Learning Designer, Tamara Pearce, then teamed up with a group of final year IT Students to develop a mobile app for the ‘Walk Down George Street’ project.

The re-imagining of how Law School students could learn about the government and legal system via a mobile learning activity constitutes Redefinition under the SAMR model for integrating technology into teaching (Puentedura, 2006). This student-staff partnership helped to merge the content knowledge of the staff members, with the design and technical knowledge of the students - who knew that they were creating an app for other students of a similar age in a different faculty.

Students who complete the activity in groups (as recommended by the Law School staff) also have opportunities to develop peer connections and friendships. This is important because empirical studies into the psychological well-being of law students, consistently show elevated levels of psychological distress compared to the general population (Larcombe, Finch & Sore, 2015). These declines in well-being begin during the first year of law school. The experiences of relatedness to others, autonomy and competence that the activity ideally produces, have been strongly linked to the maintenance of intrinsic motivation and increases in psychological well-being (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

QUT has made the Walk Down George Street app is freely available on iTunes and Google Play making this active, technology enabled, situated and connected learning experience available to anyone who wants to make use of it - from school students, to teachers and members of the general public.

References

Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Bonwell, C., & Eison, J. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom (ASHE - ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1). Washington, DC: George Washington University.

Cheon, J., Lee, S., Crooks, S. M., & Song, J. (2012). An investigation of mobile learning readiness in higher education based on the theory of planned behavior. Computers & Education, 59 (3), 1054–1064. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.04.015

Larcombe, W., Finch, S., & Sore, R. (2015). Who's distressed? not only law students : Psychological distress levels in university students across diverse fields of study. Sydney Law Review, the, 37(2), 243-273.

Puentedura, R.R. (2006) Transformation, Technology, and Education. Online at: http://hippasus.com/resources/tte/

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68