Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Environmental Education Research

For a Special Issue on

Marine Environmental Education and Digital Technologies

Abstract deadline
31 October 2023

Manuscript deadline
29 February 2024

Cover image - Environmental Education Research

Special Issue Editor(s)

Dr. Géraldine Fauville, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
[email protected]

Dr Danny Pimentel, University of Oregon, USA
[email protected]

Dr. Erika Woolsey, The Hydrous, USA
[email protected]

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Marine Environmental Education and Digital Technologies

Regardless of where we live on earth, we benefit from the ocean on a daily basis. Similarly, everyone on the planet has an impact on the marine environment through the systems we participate in, and the decisions that we make. As highlighted in the latest IPCC report, the destruction of the ocean and its ecosystems will have catastrophic impacts on the physical, mental and economical health of human populations if not urgently addressed (Cooley et al., 2022). Research in the field of environmental and sustainability education is at the core of addressing these current issues.

Direct experience of the natural environment and environmental issues is key to environmental education (Mayer & Frantz, 2004). However, few people have the ocean in their backyard and even for citizens living by the ocean, most of the marine environment remains hidden under the surface or far away from the coasts. This leads to a situation where only a small fraction of marine biodiversity and processes can be experienced directly.

Technologies and Environmental Education

The decreasing time people spent in nature has been argued to impact the likelihood of valuing nature, feeling connected to it, and protective of it (Wells & Lekies, 2006). Digital technologies have been argued to be one of the culprits in our recent disconnect with nature (Ballouard et al., 2011). On the other hand, access to outdoor activities for environmental education has a long history of lacking diversity and has been criticized for privileging activities and ‘pursuits’ designed for typically white, middle-class, able-bodied males (Byrne & Wolch, 2009). These have raised issues of environmental justice and equity, and challenge the primacy given to certain forms of outdoor experiential education (Warren et al., 2014). Moreover, field trips can have an environmental footprint that might be greater than their environmental benefits (Telford et al., 2023).

Digital technologies can offer opportunities to address some of the challenges associated with experiencing nature. For example, virtual field trips can be accessible to historically marginalized groups who would typically be left aside; they can also offer encounters with nature without the environmental impact of physical trips. Several studies have pointed out the positive impact of watching nature documentaries on knowledge gain (Fortner & Lyon, 1985), donation behavior (Arendt & Matthes, 2016), and environmental sensitivity (Barbas et al., 2009). More recently, studies using immersive-like augmented reality (AR) to facilitate interactions with virtual marine life suggest positive implications for spurring environmental concern and nature connectedness (e.g., Pimentel, 2022). Digital technologies may especially be valuable when the natural places can be inaccessible for humans to explore, such as remote marine habitats. When firsthand experience with the ocean is impossible in MEE, a virtual immersive environment offers a suitable alternative, as was found during the pandemic for research, education and other activities (Knutsson & Bavinck, 2021).

While there is still little research on the potential of digital technologies for MEE, interest is growing due, in part, to the focus brought to ocean literacy through the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021- 2030: see For instance, Ocean Decade Outcome 7 seeks to create “an inspiring and engaging ocean where society understands and values the ocean in relation to human wellbeing and sustainable development.”

Framing question for the papers

This Special Issue will be devoted to understanding the value and role of digital technologies and technological innovation in MEE. The SI will also afford critical discussions around the complex ways in which technologies transform, for better or worse, the field of MEE, and ESE more broadly. Thus, some of the questions we would like the Special Issue to address are:

Benefits of digital technologies for MEE

  • In what ways could marine citizen science and education benefit from the integration of digital technologies?
  • What potential benefits emerge from the use of digital technology in marine environmental education?
  • How can interactions with virtual marine life influence learners’ marine environmental outcomes such as empathy, connectedness, stewardship, care, and governance?
  • How can social virtual reality facilitate experiential learning for marine education?

Limitations of digital technologies for MEE

  • What potential challenges and limitations emerge from the use of digital technologies in MEE?
  • What aspect of educational marine field trips can and cannot be enhanced or replaced by digital technologies?
  • In what way could digital technologies keep target audiences for MEE away from the physical marine environment?

Role of digital technologies in MEE

  • What are the short- and long-term effects of extended reality (XR)-based educational experiences on marine environmental education?
  • In what ways could MEE be transformed by the use of digital technologies?
  • What kinds of tension emerge in the use of digital technology as a substitute for outdoor marine education?
  • What role does digital technology play in MEE, and how do these roles vary depending on the audience, the learning objectives and the educational context?
  • In what way could the use of digital technology in MEE bring the learners closer to, or set them apart from, marine environments?
  • What equity issues emerge, deepen and disappear when digital technology is introduced in MEE?
  • How are marine educators leveraging digital technologies in classrooms and informal learning spaces? What gaps can immersive media help fill?

Beyond MEE

  • What are key ethical considerations for the design and distribution of XR-based marine educational content in fields such as the sciences, arts, and humanities?
  • What might be learned from the use of digital technologies in MEE that could apply to other ESE contexts (e.g., terrestrial) and transform the fields of ESE or education in general?
  • What lessons in using digital technology for terrestrial environmental education can be adapted and applied to MEE?
  • How else might we think about the use of digital technologies in MEE and their effects more broadly?

As appropriate, in order for authors to illustrate how a digital technology is used in their research, we encourage the careful use of additional material (e.g., screenshots, storyboards, slide decks, links to platforms, video demos) including by way of supplementary material.

Submission Instructions

Authors interested in contributing to this SI are invited to send an extended abstract to [email protected].

The extended abstract will include:

  • a title,
  • a preliminary list of authors,
  • a summary of the paper (max. 1,000 words) placing the work in the context of marine environmental education and digital technologies, presenting the main arguments, method and the preliminary results (if available) along with max 10 relevant peer-reviewed academic references that support the work.

The Guest Editors will review the abstract in order to evaluate if the paper is suitable to be submitted to this SI.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article