I recently watched a program on PBS about using digital media in the classroom. One activity in particular was especially intriguing. In Middleton, Wisconsin, they call it an “augmented reality game”, and it teaches students about the history of their community through hands-on exploration. Rather than staring at a book or a computer screen and receiving the information, students have the opportunity to physically explore their community. A GPS-based program tracks the student’s location and provides them with a digital supplement- a video or a picture, for example- to enhance their learning experience. The portion of the game shown in the PBS program made it seem almost like a scavenger hunt, but with a twist. By following clues, students learn about the history of their community and are able to literally connect it with the present day. A student can stand in a spot, anywhere in their town, and discover the similarities and differences between how it looks now and how it looked before.
What I really like about this activity is how it incorporates physical activity. One of the biggest complaints about integrating technology into the classroom seems to be the fact that it increases “screen time”; in other words, the amount of time a student spends staring at a computer screen. With this activity, the students are out in the fresh air, walking and talking and moving around- all the while learning valuable historical information and making personal connections to the world around them.
To watch the full program, click here.
To read a transcript of the program, click here.