Phenologit: spatial data analysis and mobile learn..
Phenologit: spatial data analysis and mobile learning for schools
Start date: Sep 1, 2015,
End date: Aug 31, 2018
Understanding and taking care of our environment is a topic that appears across the curriculum in European schools. It is a close-to-the-heart subject, which attracts the students’ attention and can lead to rich and enjoyable educational activities while building positive attitudes in the citizens of the future. It is also a topic that can provide deep intellectual stimulation and satisfaction through drawing upon a wealth of data to analyse and discuss at a scientific level. Children from the earliest age can be fascinated by the observing small changes that occur in living organisms throughout the seasons: this is the science of phenology. Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events, and how these are influenced by seasonal and inter-annual variations in climate together, and it is highly pertinent to subjects such as science, mathematics and geography in both primary and secondary education. Collection of phenological information is a long established activity across Europe, with national and even international associations gathering individual data sets provided by thousands of people each year. However, it is still a science that for the most part continues to use pen and paper to gather data.
Our proposal, the project PhenoloGIT, is focused on the designing, building and testing of a collaboratively created educational environmental information platform, supported by state-of-the-art mobile technology and Geographical Information Technologies (GIT), to be used by teachers and students in primary and secondary schools. The platform will allow them not only to make scientific observations in their local environment and gather new data in an intuitive and engaging way, but also to acquire complex knowledge by collaboratively creating and sharing new information using open-source tailored educational tools to analyse and reflect on graphical, spatial and mathematical data sets. These tools and resources will be based – and released – as open source/free license resources, to promote their use and evolution in the following years and so offer great potential benefits in the longer term for schools across Europe.
Many activities can be developed using phenological information, like regional planning (according to natural resources, climates, microclimates) for agriculture, leisure or forestry, or discovering bird and insect migration routes. Using everyday mobile devices (phones and tablets with GPS), accessible and open source tools, together with attractive learning materials and study guides that follow compulsory STEM curricula, will support European students and teachers to create a social network where reflection on data from local environments can lead to an engaging learning experience.
Teachers and students will be given free tools and guidance, not only to learn and share information about environmental facts, but also to create their own materials, reflections and use this knowledge in class. The project will be designed and implemented by teachers and technologists to ensure that any teacher with basic ICT skills can be part of the Virtual Learning Environment or ICT platform for schools.
The project will have three main phases. Firstly, needs and possibilities will be analysed and tools, learning-teaching strategies and contents identified and developed. In the second stage these tools will be tested in real situations in pilot schools, and training given to a group of pilot teachers. The final stage of the project will be devoted to the design and implementation of a social learning network of GIT based school projects, not limited to phenology, but including other subjects identified by teachers in the first phase. This stage will multiply the benefits from the project, generating online resources for teachers, as well as an active community of schools working and learning with GIT and related technologies.
The main beneficiaries of the project products will be primary and secondary school educational communities. In addition to the products described above, the project is expected to have a fundamental and lasting impact on science teaching across Europe, increasing relevance and motivation in science classrooms through the use of new technology, with major potential for enhancing student understanding, reflection and collaboration to the creation of knowledge in school and environmental life subjects. The project also aims to influence students’ (and teachers’) attitudes to and awareness of major issues such as global climate change, nature observation and knowledge and respect for the environment. An Open School Learning Network will be a major result that will provide a lasting resource for learning how to apply innovative GIT and mobile technologies in an exciting and accessible way for European schools. It will be hosted on a server at Galicia Supercomputing Centre, a respected resource centres for researchers in computational sciences in Spain.
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