Over the last few months I’ve been exploring the potential of GPS technology in the primary schools environment. Incorporating elements of science and especially spatial maths and position in a fun way, the use of handheld GPS is a new tool to support learning. One only needs to look at the global interest in geocaching to see the positive integration of GPS use into mainstream recreation. I’ve been using a couple of Garmin GPS 72 units which are cost effective and easy to use as all buttons are on the front of the unit ( an advantage over the cheaper etrex model), my students are raring to get out and find their way around mini-courses in our school.
To integrate this into the classroom our year 3 class has placed a geocache near the school and have released a trackable bear tag that we can follow on Google Earth as it journeys around the globe. I’ve set up a schoolscache project with schools in England, USA and Abu Dhabi. The aim will be for schools to observer their trackables on Google Earth and experience the physical journey of the tags as well as learning about the target schools, their students and cultures. I’ll provide updates as the project gathers momentum. The schools are collaborating via a private wiki to ensure student confidentiality.
It’s early days but again the integration of web2.0, Google Earth and GPS technologies are demonstrating how we might look at new ways and means of learning. Of course international sharing and partnerships are a wonderful result as well!