What is Geolocation?

Everything on the Earth’s surface has a location that can be expressed with just two coordinates. Using new classes of geolocation tools, it is very easy to determine and capture the exact location of physical objects — and even to capture the exact locations where photographs and video are taken. It is also becoming easier to work with geolocation data: it can be plotted on maps; combined with data about other events, objects, or people; graphed; charted; or manipulated in myriad ways. Indeed, such data are leading to entirely new forms of mapping. Our devices increasingly have the ability to know where they are (and, consequently, where we are), and to routinely record our coordinates as we take photographs, talk to friends, or post updates to social networking websites. The transparency of this group of technologies — increasingly embedded in all sorts of devices — is making them very much an essential part of our lives. Recent advancements in mobile apps leverage geolocation so that users may learn more about a site they are visiting, or discover other people or places in their vicinity, making the areas surrounding them new and dynamic spaces for learning.

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1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • as mobile learning becomes more prevalent and commonplace, and people increasingly have access to GPS-enabled mobile devices (tablets, smartphones etc), the potential to engage with geolocated resources becomes highly significant - both for formal and informal/non-formal learning. The way in which we make sense of this wealth of information is critical, also the way in which it can feed into formal educational systems and disciplines - not just environmental/earth sciences but any subject that has connections to the real world and physical spaces/places. - elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Related themes: location intelligence, mobile learning, location-based services, location-base mobile learning, citizen science (if conducted with location as a key context). Also see the section on 'geolearning' from the UK Open University's Innovating Pedagogy report 2013 (http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/innovating). Also missing from this definition is the idea of 'blended spaces', consisting of a real physical space and a digital space overlaying this (augmented reality is one example of how blended spaces can be realised) - also see work by David Benyon e.g. Benyon, D., Mival, O. & Ayan, S. (2012). Designing Blended Spaces. Proceedings of the 26th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction: People & Computers XXVI, Birmingham, UK, BCS/EWiC.
    Also see the literature on field work learning as this fits in here, and also place-based education (http://www.peecworks.org/index).- elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on European schools education?

  • By engaging in active technology-mediated learning tasks within particular environments, we can evolve a sense of place that in turn engenders a deep connection with our surroundings, providing an effective and memorable way of creating meaning and understanding about the places we find ourselves in. An educational framework based upon creating and nurturing a sense of place can promote learning about real-world conservation issues, community-based conservation and how we can get involved in community action, leading to more environmentally-responsible behaviour and a greater desire to care for and protect our environment. An increased sense of place can also result in a greater psychological, social, and spiritual well-being whilst also raising awareness of human impact upon our environment. Some studies have shown how developing a sense of place has had a positive effect on science learning, particularly where knowledge contained within indigenous cultures have helped shape the science curriculum – or where it has been ignored, has had a detrimental effect on student’s knowledge and value placed on their local environment. - elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
  • The Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) found that students engaging in place-based learning had better connections to particular places and developed their sense of caring for and nurturing their local environment (“environmental stewardship”). They also found a clear link to improved student achievement, even in non-science subjects (e.g. maths, languages) and similarly when comparing student performance on standardised tests in maths and science (those who had experienced place-based education with their peers who had not). PEEC also claim additional benefits, such as stimulating teachers to change their practices; transforming school culture; connecting schools and local communities; and improving “environmental, social, and economic vitality”. - elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
  • Research on several studies from across the US, Scandinavia and Switzerland state some more specific benefits of place-based education and having access to nature. For example, children with better access to nearby green spaces have been shown to have improved concentration skills and pre-school children develop better motor skills and engage in more creative forms of play. Visiting “natural areas” and “green outdoor settings” can also reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, sometimes referred to as ADD) in children and can also provide a way for adolescents to cope with emotional stress, even helping them become more resilient to future stressful life events. A student’s sense of place can help develop their sense-making strategy and additionally engage their classmates in this activity, showing both individual and group benefits.- elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
  • Re: mobile language learning - this authentic, situated learning-in-context can make for a more effective, real-world experience than learning a language in a classroom-based environment. - elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.