Mobile Learning in the Outdoors Benefits, Apps and Examples
From Expanding the Classroom with Mobile Learning:
Mobile devices can form an engaging platform for teaching and learning, with the potential to expand the realm of the classroom. Functionality and context are key considerations when selecting from the myriad of mobile-enabled web sites and applications.
Like a Swiss army knife, mobile devices and their apps can provide utility and flexibility in a compact, portable package. Among the options available are:
GPS and other location-based functionalityVideo, audio, and still image captureMobile networking and collaborationThe ability to bridge to other tools and dataScanning and data logging in the fieldVisual and audio recognitionScreen readers, slow keys, text to speak, and other accessibility features
The portability and convenience provided by mobile devices enables instantaneous, contextual observations in the field or whenever spontaneous learning opportunities arise. Collecting information outside the classroom can help students hone observation and collaboration skills, reinforce topic relevancy, or provide opportunities to emulate an expert system through use of the apps.
GPS-based apps for mapping, geo-blogging, and geo-tagging are especially powerful in this regard, because they enable direct linking of observations to specific times and locations. The ability to capture, reference, and share data, multimedia, and ideas within a spatial or temporal context helps students identify broader trends and relationships, foster discussion, and develop conceptual thinking.
5 Ways to Take Technology Outdoors:
Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are powerful tools for outdoor study. Access to the Internet, a camera and geospatial data (e.g. GPS) make it easy to gather, organize and submit data from observations. Applications (apps) can be downloaded to engage students in citizen science activities, like identifying wildlife.
GPS (Global Positioning Systems) is a technology that communicates with satellites to pinpoint specific locations on Earth. GPS units are great tools for getting students outside and engaged in environmental field research and service-learning projects.
At Wisconsin’s Augusta Area School District, teacher Paul Tweed engaged his students in several projects that used GPS and GIS (Geographic Information Systems), one of which helped the Wisconsin Department of Nature Resources (DNR) track orphaned black bear cubs released into the wild.
Students can use digital cameras to document their local environment, track their progress on science projects, collect evidence and present their findings in the classroom.
Students at Monroe City Schools in Louisiana use tech tools like digital cameras to enhance environmental education programs at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Learn more at: fws.gov/northlouisiana/blackbayoulake/environmental_education.html.
Digital Weather Stations
Digital weather stations are small monitoring devices put in place to collect real-time weather data. They can be installed near home, school or in nearby parks, enabling students to add weather conditions to their study of the local environment.
Students participating in outdoor education programs with NatureBridge check digital weather stations at Olympic, Yosemite and Golden Gate National Parks for weather data to add to their field research. Learn more at: naturebridge.org/your-naturebridge-program-olympic.
How technology can further STEM learning through the environment, both inside and outside the classroom. An educator toolkit is available free at - http://go...
Mobile Learning in Outdoors Viewed with the SAMR Model
The SAMR model (http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/) is being used to discuss technology integration. The SAMR model, developed by Dr Ruben Puentedura, aims to support teachers as they design, develop and integrate learning technologies to support high levels of learning achievement and student engagement.
The guiding questions for the SAMR Ladder include:
It becomes apparent that these outdoor-based mobile learning activities can be categorized in the transformational levels of modification and redefinition as learners engage in tasks that are uniquely possible given the mobile technologies.
Mind mapping is a great way to brainstorm, make a plan, or turn ideas into the steps needed to make it real. Thankfully, there are great tools out there to help you build mind maps, organize them, and save them for later.