My TIS friend, Mike, has been exploring the educational use of the iPAQ Travel Companion, a GPS-enabled Windows Mobile device. He invited another TIS friend, John, and me to join him. This GPS device also allows you to upload video, audio files, and html files. Using mscape software, we prepared instructional content based on the Pacific Theater of World War II. There were lots of great film clips from Discovery Streaming. After several months of planning and preparing, we were finally ready to test it with a small group of 5th grade students. As is always the case when exploring new technology, there were a couple of glitches, but overall things went very well! Mike inserted a map of our school playground into the devices and set the GPS coordinates. As students began, only the first location, Pearl Harbor, was visible on the screen. Students began to walk to that location. When they reached the “hot spot,” the content about Pearl Harbor automatically began to play. When that content had finished playing, the next location popped up on the screen. I had prepared questions that students had to answer as they moved through the content. Each student had a role: device manager, reader, or recorder. The roles rotated for each new location so that everyone had a turn to be the device manager, which was obviously the most fun! This picture shows what students saw on the device after they had visited all 7 locations.
On of the advantages of using these handheld devices for learning is that this activity provides for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. We were especially pleased with our students’ enthusiasm about this learning experience. They enjoyed being outside and walking to find the next hot spot with the GPS. One of the greatest benefits of the use of educational technology is the high level of motivation and engagement it produces.
We are working on other content as well. John created a lesson using a cell diagram for a map, I created another WW II lesson on the European Theater, and Mike created a high school activity on energy choices. We see a lot of potential for the use of augmented reality for learning!
To view a short video of students using the handhelds and of them talking about the experience, visit our school website, iWarrior.