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Fly me to the moon

| September 6, 2013 | 0 Comments

Augmented reality is gaining currency in American schools where budgets for school field trips are increasingly being cut. The trend was endorsed at a recent American Educational Research Association held in Washington, DC, where speakers said ‘real-world settings’ should be incorporated into curricula and assessment at schools.

Mobile apps are the central features of augmented reality – students can use mobile phones and tablets with internet, GPS and camera capabilities to overlay information in particular areas. Apps could trigger virtual scenarios, or enhance or augment research capabilities and educational experiences for children.

Augmented reality is especially useful for schools without access to rich or interesting supplementary environments. For example, pilot programmes are underway testing Ecosystems Mobile Outdoor Blended Immersive Learning Environment (EcoMOBILE), created at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This app offers Grade 6 students an enriched exploration of a pond, enabling them to capture and analyse water samples, draw flora and fauna and investigate the ecosystem. Says one of the creators of the EcoMOBILE app: “We hope we can help students develop practices that mirror real scientific practices and carry them from the classroom to the real-world environment.”

Teachers involved in the pilot study report that students’ understanding of concepts like oxygenation and pH levels improved by 19% on average after the experience, and that they demonstrated happiness at being allowed to explore at their own pace.

Some of the most popular virtual field trips being used at present are the UPM Forest Life field trip, where children take a hike through a forest to learn about sustainability and Moon View, used via Google Earth, which makes it possible for children to become astronauts and explore the moon’s surface. Google Lit Trips are free, downloadable files that explore the journeys of characters from famous works of literature.

Category: e-Education, Spring 2013

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