The Use of Geo-Spatial Technology in Handheld Devices for Teaching Geography in a Formal School Context

The Use of Geo-Spatial Technology in Handheld Devices for Teaching Geography in a Formal School Context

Pamela Cowan, Ryan Butler
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch257
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Mobile learning (m-learning) is considered by some as a new reality while others trace it back to the 1980s and earlier when handheld devices such as calculators, electronic dictionaries and pocket wordprocessors were introduced into classrooms. At its most basic level, m-learning is described as the learning which occurs when the pupil is mobile or able to move freely without being confined to a physical location such as a library, classroom or computer suite (Kukulska-Hulme & Traxler, 2005; O’Malley et al., 2005; Sharples, Milrad, Arnedillo Sanchez, & Vavoula, 2009) thus including all learning which may result from connections with books, people, places or technology. However the more widely understood meaning of m-learning which reflects present society is “the use of mobile or handheld IT devices, such as PDAs, mobile phones, laptops and tablet PCs in teaching and learning” (Wood, 2003, p. 65) indeed Quinn (2011) includes an increased level of productivity when both using and creating information through pocket-sized digital devices in recognition of the dual role of mobile technology in today’s society. It is the portability and pervasive nature of the device which often distinguishes m-learning from e-learning as m-learning is considered to be “spontaneous, personal, informal, contextual, ubiquitous (available everywhere) and pervasive (so integrated with daily activities that it is hardly noticed)” (Kukulska-Hulme & Traxler, 2005, p. 2). It is these latter definitions of modern technologies and their m-learning potential which will be the focus of this article.

Over the past ten years mobile learning (m-learning) has grown in use in schools around the world (Sharples, 2007; Sharples & Roschelle, 2010) with learning occurring both formally inside the school, as well as informally outside school. The widespread availability of mobile technologies such as mobile phones, personal response systems, personal digital assistants (PDAs) with GPS, mp3 players and touch screen tablets, offers opportunities for all teachers to reconsider how they teach when the traditional constraints of the physical classroom can be replaced with the virtual world of personalized and up-to-date learning on demand.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Geo-Tagged: A location or region which has been identified and tagged or pre-programmed to deliver learning materials.

GPS: Global positioning Geo-spatial task – an activity delivered to a user depending on their GPS location in a pre-defined geo-tagged space.

WebQuest: An online/web-based set of activities or tasks.

Mediascapes: A media landscape or geographical region within which multimedia learning objects are programmed to be presented via a PDA to the user depending on the co-ordination location given by the GPS.

Personalised Learning: Learning approaches tailored to the needs of an individual learner, usually developed via a virtual learning environment or specially prepared set of worksheets.

Mobile Learning: The use of modern handheld devices such as PDAs, smartphones, e-readers etc. for learning.

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