Nobody knows more about education techniques with maps than geography teachers. So in an age when maps are becoming alive on smartphone screens, it is important to make full use of these devices’ capabilities.
Here are five simple ways of putting mobile, location and mapping technology in action for teaching and learning purposes in the field of geography:
1. Combine interactive maps with multimedia
An easy way to provide rich information on a given location is to incorporate audio and video to a landmark. Multimedia is highly engaging with students, and can give context to what is otherwise little more than a name or dot on a map. The ability to access the material individually at any given time makes mobile learning suitable for both work in class and revision at home.
2. Divide a class in teams and let them compete for points in a round of city or nature exploration
Exploring geography, of course, is best done outdoors. Even though multimedia can give a deep contextual background, it doesn’t quite compare with experiencing a landmark without a screen to separate it from the student. Having a mobile device while sightseeing, however, can enrich the learning experience in numerous ways. One of those ways is the gamification of sightseeing. Students can be tasked with discovering landmarks for themselves, completing challenges and gaining points. A smartphone can give detailed information and reward points only once the students are standing near to the target place. Pursuing goals in exploration is another great tool for providing students with extra motivation to learn and develop interest in the study material.
3. Let students point out what landmarks they find fascinating and contribute to a list of important places by recording their own placemarks, notes and photos on a map
Active participation in the learning process is proven to increase academic success, and now students can take part in shaping the study material, both for themselves as well as for their classmates. This, along with the emphasized elements of interaction and competition guarantees the capture of students’ attention and the retention of their interest.
4. Provide historical context to a landmark through the use of augmented reality
Augmented reality technologies can provide an incredible range of possibilities for enriching a location with, for example, a view of the same place from 20 or 200 years ago. It can also provide information in three-dimensional space, making it a unique experience that can only be obtained by using a mobile device.
5. Demonstrate different stages of the development of a city by using alternative historical maps
Smartphones and their location services can also be used to, in a way, travel back in time. Instead of having a modern, up-to-date map, a student’s location can be displayed on a historical one. Alternative maps, like augmented reality, are a great way to teach the history of a place and the stages of its development.
6. Incorporate location-based testing in evaluating student knowledge
Answering questions is proven to be one of the best ways for students to remember what they have learned. Quizzes on mobile are able to strengthen that memory by connecting it with a place. For example, students can be asked about a landmark when they are physically present there. This strengthens one’s immersion with the study material and is likely to lead to higher levels of academic success. Digitized testing, of course, allows for easier monitoring and calculation of grades.
7. And one final tip
All the above teaching methods can be realized through the Mobile Learning Academy platform and its services.
Here is a list of successful educational projects that make the most of location-based mobile learning:
Settlers of Manhattan - The main impetus for the project was to explore new ways to design and prototype locative games that run on mobile platforms to help educate children in High School about the Dutch Settlers of Manhattan in the early 1600′s.
Learning While Walking - The innovative project ‘Learning while walking’ was set up in collaboration with Technolab Leiden to develop an educational method that integrates mobile phones.
The Island - As part of the Hudson 400 festivities, 7scenes partnered with Waag Society and the John Adams Institute to create The Island; an urban mobile game that connects students in Amsterdam and New York in real time. The Island is an urban game about the shared trading history of Amsterdam and NYC.
Frequency 1550 - Frequency 1550 was a city game that used mobile phones to let pupils of secondary schools actively learn about medieval history instead of passively absorbing knowledge. The aim was to bring the Middle Ages alive for pupils, within their history lessons.