Writing for eLearning Inside in mid-February 2022, journalist Majorie Desamito reported that many parents and teachers fear that one of the unwanted consequences of remote online learning is students spending all their time indoors, often alone.
In a world impacted by climate, economic struggle, and an increasing need to adapt to available opportunities, hands-on experiences beyond gazing at the computer screen are more important than ever.
Advocating for an approach that is fast becoming popular by creative educators, place-based learning (PBL), Desamito explains that PBL immerses students into a locational or community-based experience. PBL lessons often involve going outside or taking a field trip. Other times, the lessons are heavily based on a specific location, community, and rich sensory details (without travelling).
Both venturing out into the world, or exploring its different aspects in a sensory-rich manner, are important, say education experts. Whether outside or in, students can be exposed to personalised and deep learning, student engagement, creative thinking, and interdisciplinary education.
Moreover, says Desamito, PBL requires that students investigate their relationships with, and impact upon, different environments. The approach also encourages them to interact with people in other communities. Desamito notes that:
Education technology used alongside PBL can create a unique learning experience on how to apply reliable research to environmental exploration and handson activities. Such an experience can help students challenge their initial perceptions and use social media more mindfully.
Augmented reality (AR) can also help students discover more about the world around them. Desamito says:
While it may not be as immersive as virtual reality, augmented reality is meant to supplement an experience out in the world, rather than create a new one altogether. It generally also costs less to implement.
Many AR applications run on smartphones, making this form of technology widely available.[Furthermore], GPS Technology can link a student’s environmental understanding with map-related skills. For note-taking or experimental purposes, GPS technology can be used to tag points of interest that could be connected or compared to each other.
Technology can be used alongside PBL in other creative ways too. Many teachers have realised the value of students using different social media platforms to communicate with communities in other parts of the world. Students can also take virtual tours of different spaces.
After each experience, students can share what they have learned, and how their perceptions of issues related to social justice may have changed. They can also be drawn into creating projects to assist different communities with challenges they may be facing.