Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Journal # 3

Making Field Trips Podtastic !
Published by Alice M.Weller, John C. Bickar, and Paul McGuiness in the February 2008 issue of Learning and Leading with Technology

This article describes a wireless hand held museum field trip module that was designed by some researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This interactive field trip was designed to enhance the educational value of the trip by increasing the amount of time that students spend on each exhibit and increasing the depth of their engagement with it. By using a variety of tools such as podcasts, cameras, web searches, quizzes and recording devices, which can all be found on a hand-held computer, the researchers transformed the museum field trip into an interactive, learning experience which is guided and customized by the educator, but which still allows the student to explore areas of interest and be creative. As they tour around the museum students’ understanding of what they see is enhanced by the information they get from the podcasts prepared by their teachers. As they are examining the exhibits, students can take digital pictures of things that interest them, they can record their observations in audio or text formats, they can interview museum staff members, they can search the web for additional information on topics that interest them, they can even take quizzes on each exhibit and assess their understanding of what they see right away. The technology required to implement this hand-held module is not very complicated, and yet by integrating this technology into the traditional field trip, teachers provide students with an activity which develops their digital literacy and at the same time enhances their ability to learn, to be independent, and to be creative.

Question 1:
The authors initially designed this technique to be used during museum field trips. What are some other useful applications of this hand-held model?
This hand held model would be a very useful tool in any kind of field trip such as a visit to a historical place, a forest, a garden and any other setting which provides students with primary learning materials. It could also be used in settings such as art classes, shop classes, and science fairs where students are working on different projects and need customized instruction and guidance.

Question 2:
What are some advantages of this tool beyond enhancing learning and creativity?
This model is a great way to integrate activities which support National Educational Technology Standards into field trips and other interactive or hands on educational settings. By making students take charge of their learning this model also gives educators more time and more freedom to focus on students who need more individual attention than their peers.