PLACE BASED LEARNING: OUTSIDE VS. INSIDE
Several recent developments in both education and technology have emerged which may provide opportunities for teachers to develop place-based learning opportunities for their students while mitigating some of the pitfalls related to off-site field trips. First, local field experiences, conducted within a short walking distance from the school, provide students with data acquisition techniques and an understanding of the nature of science: how scientists ask questions and conduct investigations. Electronic methods for collecting data, manipulation, and communication, such as digital probes, Smartphones, iPod Touch devices, etc., combined with web 2.0 tools can provide low-cost, high access techniques for educators desiring to embed “school yard” experiential learning into their curricula. Second, initiatives such as Virtual Fieldwork Experiences (VFEs) can be integrated into the school curriculum. These online inquiry-based experiences rely on data and images assembled by educators across the nation using Earth Science Literacy Principles’ Big Ideas to mold the overarching questions: “How do we know what we know?” and “How does what we know inform our decision-making?”
The focus of this talk is to discuss the obstacles of incorporating place-based learning into the secondary classroom, and the strategies and benefits of overcoming them.