During SITE 2015, Mike Searson offered conference participants a unique experience: Exploring the Red Rock Canyon Park and delving into the possibilities of mobile and wearable technologies at the same time
As immediate past president of SITE—Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, executive director of the School for Global Education & Innovation at Kean University and member of the Education Advisory Board for the US National Parks Service, Mike Searson was perfectly positioned to guide this workshop activity.
Prior to the workshop, Mike explained what he hoped that participants would take away from the experience.
“If nothing more happens than enjoying the beauty and surroundings of Red Rock Canyon, we would have had a rich experience. However, if we use the mobile and wearable devices that we carry around with us on a daily basis to collect data and document our experiences, then our trip to the park will become more engaging. Finally, […] can data and documentation collected in the Red Rock Canyon with our mobile and wearable devices then be integrated into lesson plans and curriculum standards?”
Mike Searson, AACE Blog
The workshop tackled difficult questions that concern all educators who are interested in mobile and wearable learning: How can we best incorporate informal learning experiences into formal classroom activities? How can we address concerns about who might be accessing the data that students produce, and for what reasons? It was my pleasure to follow up with one of the workshop participants, Mary Beth Klinger, Professor of Business at the College of Southern Maryland.
What drove your decision to sign up for this unusual workshop - the encounter with nature, the immersion into new technologies or an interest in place-based education?
SITE 2015 Workshop: Taking IT Outdoors at the Red Rock Canyon Park
I have a strong interest in place-based instruction and wearable technologies. I have had the opportunity to explore Google Glass and incorporate this technology into my instruction.
I have found through the integration of QR codes or even integrating Auras into content that students have the potential to dig deeper into the topics that we are studying. For example, in one of the business courses I teach, a negotiation simulation is incorporated that revolves around a current international issue. In the resources provided to students, Auras is incorporated to have students explore more deeply the countries and customs. I have found that this adds to the overall experience for students.
I was looking for new ways that I could enhance these mobile technologies and ideas into my current teaching practice.
Give us a look behind the scenes: Can you describe your day at Red Rock Canyon Park?
After I took in the overall beauty of Red Rock Canyon Park, I began to think about experiential learning and the idea of providing students with meaningful experiences.
One way to do this is to explore locations and even interview people with an attempt to create an experience that students can participate in to learn complex topics more deeply.
I have not yet determined what this will look like, but the day at Red Rock with colleagues from around the world discussing these types of ideas was motivational.
Any anecdotes of mishaps, adventurous encounters or unexpected discoveries you would like to share?
Cell phone service was not very reliable, so in remote areas this would need to be accounted for. But GPS was working and that was interesting. I enjoyed being at the Canyon with everyone and exploring and ultimately thinking about these ideas.
I believe students would also benefit from this type of experience. The ability to find ways to provide these rich experiences to them is always a goal. This experience brought that to my attention again.
After the workshop, has your attitude towards mobile and wearable technologies changed? Are you rather cautious or eager to try out these devices and apps?
I utilize and attempt to find real world application to incorporate these types of devices into my teaching. So, this experience provided me an opportunity to think even more deeply about these tools and how I can integrate them into my classroom and instruction.
Which other personal lessons did you take home from the workshop?
I am still trying to discover ways to incorporate these tools into my teaching to enhance student learning. Students carry cell phones and many bring laptops to class. If I can discover ways to incorporate these tools into my teaching to get students more involved and excited about what they are learning, I would be thrilled.
This workshop provided a lot to think about and work towards. Primarily due to the connections that I made with the other participants, I found this experience very meaningful.
Does the workshop influence your teaching? Will you take advantage of the opportunities to take learning outdoors via technology with your own students?
I will look for ways to take learning outdoors. As I mentioned earlier, I do believe my students would benefit from this. However, at this time, I am not sure how I would accomplish this task.
Any advice you would like to share with conference workshop organizers?
This experience was meaningful. It is always helpful to have an immersive experience that you can participate in with colleagues from around the world. It provided an excellent opportunity to share information and resources around a learning model incorporating wearable and mobile technologies.
Prof. Mary Beth Klinger
Mary Beth Klinger is a professor of business and management at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, MD where she teaches undergraduate courses in business, management, leadership, organizational behavior, small business and entrepreneurship, and marketing. Her research interests are in the areas of knowledge management, leadership, innovation and technology, and global education. She holds a Ph.D. in Organization and Management, a Master’s in Business Administration, and a Master’s in International Management. Her professional background includes educational consulting, employment in private industry in logistics and supply chain management, as well as several federal government agencies, to include the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Federal Trade Commission.