Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5 Ways to Use GPS Devices for Authentic Learning

GPS devices allow a user to accurately pinpoint his or her position on a map using satellite technology. These devices were originally developed to help people navigate their way in the great outdoors or when driving in a car. However, some tech-savvy teachers have also taken advantage of handheld GPS devices for educational activities. Coordinates and information can be downloaded or entered into a GPS device from the teacher that can lead students to a specific location. When students arrive at the location, they can then read the information, giving them a sense of connection between knowledge and place that supports deeper learning (Woodhouse & Knapp, 2000). This post is an excerpt from my book: Educational Technology for Teachers.

Some example GPS device activities for students include having students enter waypoints into the GPS for different activities (walking, sports, etc.) and then measuring, averaging and graphing the distances between points. Teachers can also enter coordinates and information into the GPS devices and send students on a hunt for the coordinates.
Here are 5 more example GPS-based learning activity ideas:

  • Students can follow GPS coordinates to and learn about different tree or plant species 
  • Students can follow GPS coordinates to historical places and read stories about these places when they arrive 
  • Students can add waypoints that mark the location of animal or plant species for analysis 
  • Students can measure the size of real-world objects using GPS coordinates 
  • Students can complete a treasure hunt by following coordinates to a cache with subject matter questions or problems that must be completed in order for them to continue to the next cache

  • What are some GPS activities that you have tried as a teacher? 

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