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Monday, April 22, 2013

Technology Possibilities in the Outdoor Classroom

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, I was assigned to teach environmental education.  This was before “www” or ianything.    We forged an environmental trail outside, where students identified trees and other biological phenomena (wasps nests, fox holes, ground cover, lichens, bracket fungi, woodpecker damage, etc) .  We numbered these areas with wooden signs and created a booklet so that children from the younger grades could take a hike and learn all about the world outside their door.  We used wood burning tools, paint, hammers, nails, saws, guidebooks and a local forester.  We created a booklet and ran it off on the ditto machine (mmmm that smell) to share with students in our district.

Fast forward today.  Some people say that technology keeps our children inside.  That students are not looking at the real thing anymore, that they live in a virtual world.   My mind, however, boggles at the possibilities that technology has put in the hands of our students.   

Take that same environmental trail and imagine this:
Students leading other students from faraway lands (like TX or CA or even off country) right through our woods giving them a tour via skype!
The guidebook is now an ibook with pictures (from different seasons!) and links for more information that hikers can take on the trail with them.
Students can create podcasts for each one of the numbered stations in the woods.
Students can track growth and change (seasonal and otherwise) of one particular spot, in detail.
Well, I am sure that you get the idea and I hope that you have ideas to add.
We will be discussing using the outdoors this Tuesday night, 8:30 in the #NJED twitter chat…please join us or stay tuned and I will add ideas that were shared right here!   (and Happy Earth Day!)

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