Technology Inquiry Project, Post #9: Wrap-up

Beth and I will be wrapping up our Tech Inquiry project and sharing what we’ve learned using Google Slides. In turn, familiarizing ourselves with GAFE and providing our peers with a series of easily accessible resources moving forward. You can access the slides here! I realized that we also never shared our trello board on our blog, but you can access it here if you want to dig deeper into our learning process.

It’s been a blast! Enjoy.

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Technology Inquiry Project, Post #7: QuestaGame & Geocaching for Students

As we reach the end of our assignment, Beth and I are getting eager to head outside with our digital devices. We wanted to try playing QuestaGame and go Geocaching, however, it looks like we’re only going to have time for one.

QuestaGame

Here is brief video outlining how QuestaGame works.

1. Download the app.
2. Capture photos of your outdoor surroundings.
3. Receive expert feedback on sightings.
4. Collect individually, challenge friends, and have fun!

I really like this game because sightings are shared with biodiversity record organizations to help researchers on their quest to save the planet. So not only are participants actively outside learning in real-time about nature, but they’re actually contributing to something far bigger than themselves. Moreover, this is a game that can be enjoyed individually or in groups via features like the winner-takes-all “Challenges.”

Geocaching

I’m going to make this description a little bit more detailed because SURPRISE.. Beth and I are going geocaching!

This video outlines how to find a geocache.

1. Download the app.
2. Research clues using geocache’s name and description.
3. Check difficulty rating (mental exertion).
4. Check terrain rating (physical exertion).
5. Decide how you’re going to get there.
6. Once your phone says your within 20-30ft of geocache, search with your hands and eyes.
7. You found it! Sign the log-book, trade swag + trackables, put it back, and log your find online.
8. Repeat!

Pro-tips:

  • Geocaches will never be buried. Check in trees, on metal objects for magnets and under sticks. If you still can’t find it, think “If I hid a geocache here, where would I put it?”
  • If you’re still totally lost, check the most recent activity and hints on the app.
  • Bring a pen!

GeocachingEDU

This totally awesome website shares a wide variety of resources that makes introducing geocaching to students a breeze. You can even download a PowerPoint presentation on “Geocaching 101” here. The website also has brochures and posters, but what I found most useful is this blog! Teachers and parents provide tips and tricks on how they’ve incorporated geocaching into their learners’ agendas and it looks like a blast. I mean, what kids don’t want to hunt for treasure?! As for curricular opportunities, one teacher creates academic puzzles for Science, Math, Music, History, Art, and English. However, that’s just one way to do it. I thought another cool idea would be to include QR codes on hidden items to share more knowledge with students. Check out the blog and see what appeals to you.

I can’t wait to go geocaching and see what it’s all about for myself!

Photo by Settergren / CC BY

Technology Inquiry Project, Post #5: Sensible Use of Technology

Incase you missed it, Beth wrote up a fantastic post last week highlighting the benefits of place-based education. In turn, I thought it would be appropriate to make a similar post analyzing the impact technology has on student learning. However, it didn’t take me long to realize just how controversial this topic is. There’s compelling research on both ends of the argument and I think as educators we need to take everything into account.

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, technology can serve as a helpful tool to enhance student learning. However, if technology is prompting distraction, disengagement, or social disconnectedness amongst students, then it’s counterproductive. As educators, we must question whether or not the technology we’re using is supporting meaningful learning experiences for our students. According to this online Educational Technology Textbook, the main characteristics of meaningful learning are:

  • Active – learning occurs through interactions with and manipulations of the environment; not sitting passively in desks.
  • Constructive – learning occurs when we reflect on our learning activities in order to assign meaning to them.
  • Intentional – learning occurs when students can identify the learning goals and are aware of their progress toward achieving the goals.
  • Authentic – learning occurs when context-based, complex, and relative to real-life.
  • Cooperative – learning occurs through working with others and participating in a learning community.

Reflective teaching practice means asking ourselves if these characteristics apply to the technology we’re promoting. If not, then it’s time to reconsider what sensible use of technology looks like.

Technology Inquiry Project, Post #3: Tree Mapping

For this blogpost I decided to explore one of the references that Bethany had listed in her previous post. More specifically, an academic article titled, “Local Tree Mapping: A Collaborative, Place-Based Activity Integrating Science, Technology, Math, and Geography” by Erica Blatt. I was instantly hooked. This insightful article provides detailed instruction and an abundance of resources concerning how to conduct tree mapping as a class.

What makes tree-mapping so awesome?

  • It’s inquiry-based; thereby fits perfectly into the new BC curriculum.
  • It can be adjusted for students grades five through twelve.
  • It promotes place-based education and real-world experiences.
  • Students work together to accomplish a common goal.
  • Technology is integrated into nature to enhance student learning.

In short, what are students getting out of this activity?
*Grade-level dependent*

  • Experience collecting data on tree type, height, diameter, age, and the longitude and latitude.
  • A means for identifying various local tree species.
  • Ability to analyze and present real-world data that can be utilized by the local community.
  • Basic skills in geographical information systems (ie. GPS) and Microsoft Excel.
  • Understanding and appreciation for the role of trees within the Earth’s ecosystems.
  • Inquiry skills in science, mathematics, and geography, as well as problem solving, critical thinking and collaborative skills.

This article is proof that when technology and the great outdoors are combined, some really interesting doors suddenly open. Tree mapping is only one of many wonderful possibilities. I look forward to discovering more ways to apply technology outside to create meaningful learning opportunities for students.