16 SES 04 A, Mobile Learning
Paper/Pecha Kucha Session
For the past several decades, environmental understanding has been on the curricula for the compulsory years of schooling across Europe (Walsh, 1988; Stokes et al. 2001). Students readily identify with and choose to participate in this and their interest and engagement are piqued, leading to rich and enjoyable educational activities that are vital for the development of positive attitudes for future European citizens (Meyer, 2015).
Phenology, the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and inter-annual variations in climate, is central to an understanding of the interactions between the atmosphere and the biosphere (Landenburger, et al., 2006; Meyer, 2010). Collection of phenological information is a long established ‘Citizen Science’ activity across Europe, with national and even international associations gathering individual data sets provided by thousands of people annually (van Vliet, 2003). Recent technological advances now enable wider participation, including that of school students.
The key objectives of PhenoloGIT, an Erasmus+ KA2-funded project (2015-18), with a partnership from Denmark, Lithuania, Spain and the UK, are to design, build and pilot a collaboratively created educational environmental information platform, supported by state-of-the-art mobile technology and Geographical Information Technologies (GIT), for use by teachers and students in primary and secondary schools across Europe.
The project had three distinct phases: design, resource and pilot. 1. Design: PhenoloGIT Technical Solutions. The innovative heart of the project: a mobile App was developed for everyday mobile devices (phones and tablets with GPS). A map server, built using accessible and open source tools compliant with international standards, works in conjunction with the App. 2. Resource: PhenoloGIT Teaching Materials: 2 primary and 2 secondary schools were recruited from each partner country. Teachers used a template to produce activities for upper primary and lower secondary pupils. Each was asked to address the following issues in developing their approach: a. Big (scientific) Idea b. Curriculum Links c. Learning Objectives d. Learning Outcomes e. Preparation and Equipment f. Procedure for Activity 3. Pilot: PhenoloGIT Pilot in Schools: Phase 1 (months 14-25, Nov 2016-July 2017) consisted of initial explanatory visits by the project partners to each of the schools during which the technology was demonstrated and shared along with sample activities. The participating teachers received the PhenoloGIT App to their personal mobile devices. They familiarised themselves with the functionality and provided developmental feedback to the technologists. Teachers’ perceptions about their confidence, fit with curricula, limitations and ideas for use were gathered by interview. Phase 2 (months 19-26, March-Oct 2017) involved teachers designing and introducing data collecting activities around their school grounds. Students used mobile devices to capture, verify and upload data. Teachers kept records of their activities including: lesson plans, photos/videos, evaluations, accounts of students’ individual needs, etc. Partners made observational visits and conducted evaluation interviews with the project teachers. Phase 3 is planned to take place between months 28-34 (Dec 17-May 18) and will consist of an analysis of evaluative data from all partners. Common themes from the activities and reflections of the teachers will be identified and this paper will report on these, together with examples of activities, pedagogic approaches and curricular links. Conclusions will be drawn about the effectiveness of the project as a whole and its significance and impact for environmental education across Europe.
PhenoloGIT has allowed not only the making of scientific observations in the local environment and gathering new data in an intuitive and engaging way, but also acquisition of complex knowledge by collaboratively creating and sharing new information and using open-source tailored educational tools to analyse and reflect on graphical, spatial and mathematical data sets transnationally. These tools and resources and the platform from which they are launched are based - and soon to be released - as open source tools with free licenses to promote the use and development of PhenoloGIT in the years ahead by an increasing number of schools across Europe. The potential of technology for phenology in schools was demonstrated the early exploratory days of using the internet in education. Seddon and Baggott la Velle's (1999) project Butterfly Site described how collecting and exchanging data on butterflies, including information on climate, vegetation and distribution, involved schools in several European countries, communicating via e-mail and establishing an interactive website, which subsequently developed to offer survey data, curriculum links and guidance for assessment. PhenoloGIT builds on this heritage, by providing schools with free tools and guidance, not only for education about and sharing of environmental information, but also to facilitate the creation of their own projects. Teachers and technicians have collaborated with academics and technologists in designing the project and its technical solutions to ensure accessibility for all teachers, even those with basic ICT skills. PhenoloGIT is thus supporting European schools to create a live network where reflection on data collected from local environments will lead to engaging learning experiences that will have lasting value through the life course of future European citizens.
Landenburger, R.E. Warner, T.A., Ensign, T.I., Nellis, M.D. (2006) Using Remote Sensing and GIS to Teach Inquiry‐Based Spatial Thinking Skills: An Example Using the GLOBE Program's Integrated Earth Systems Science. Geocarto International 21 (3), 61-71 Meyer, A. (2010) Phenology and Citizen Science. BioScience 60 (3): 172-175. Meyer, A. (2015) Does education increase pro-environmental behaviour? Evidence from across Europe. Ecological Economics 116 108-121. Walsh, S.J. (1988) Geographic Information Systems An Instructional Tool for Earth Science Educators. Journal of Geography Volume 87, Issue 1, 17-25. Seddon, K & Baggott La Velle, L. (1999) The Butterfly 'Sight' - Using the Internet in Education. School Science Review, 81:61-68 Stokes, A., Edge, A. and West, A. (2001) Environmental education in the educational systems of the European Union. Synthesis Report, April 2001, Commissioned by the Environmental Directorate-General of the European Commission. van Vliet , A.J. et al. (2003) The European Phenology Network. International Journal of Biometeorology 47 (4) 202-212
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