I write is on an unusually warm Early April afternoon long a riverbank a few miles away from my home. You now no doubt have an image in your mind of the location. If I continued by saying that I’m in Constable country, and he painted one of his most famous pieces a few miles away along the river at Flatford Mill (bit.ly/uked15may35), you now probably have a fairly accurate idea on the vista in front of me now. However, if I told you that I’m facing south across the river at 51.963396, 0.994802, you could see it for yourself.
I’m a big fan of paper maps and atlases too, but pinpointing your location with tech brings many additional benefits. Tools such as online and mobile-based maps have changed the way we look at the world and can provide an extra dimension for educators and learners which has never been available before. Now with GPS and high-resolution aerial photo maps that can track your precise location on-screen, learners can explore in safety and without bounds, and hopefully, with guidance, follow on foot.
It is easy to design location based games in your local surrounding. Services like FourSquare pioneered the genre, but you can also design your own activities. Geocaching, where one person hides something at a location for others to find by sharing the GPS coordinates has many educational applications. For example, pupils could be sent on a ‘mystery tour’ (with family if you teach younger children) for homework to research the history, geography, biology, art etc of the local area using a breadcrumb trail of coordinates.
‘Capture the flag’ games can be enhanced by using technology. A great example is Google’s geo-location game Ingress.com (Enlightened will be victorious! – excuse me!) Maps can be combined with photos or QR codes of a marker to ‘capture’ a location by recording a code.
Apps like trebleapps.co/knit allow users to write messages which are location specific and are activated. This is great for creating treasure hunt games where you leave a string of clues for your students to find and solve.
Ultimately, the aim is to better acquaint your pupils with there surrounding and to stimulate their curiosity.
This article was originally published in the May 2015 edition of UKEdMagazine. You can view the web edition freely by clicking here.
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