“Ask a question that you don’t know the answer to, ask what is interesting to you.”
With technology use supported in 74% of classrooms, the time has come to expand use outside of the school walls. Combining the age-old practice of students taking Field Trips with new age technology, the Cross County Class of the Weizman Institute located in Israel promotes Mobile Learning for participating students. Using research from an educator’s PhD or Masters degree and the theory of constructivism, the science based class is centered on student inquiry.
When students enter Shira Liberty’s Earth Science based Cross Country Class, they are in for an innovative new wave of learning; but also a break from the traditional classroom to push them out of their comfort zone. Shira believes in fully immersing students in all learning experiences. “Ask a question that you don’t know the answer to, ask what is interesting to you.” this is a message that she gives to her students. Believing that there is no better way for her students to learn than using mobile technology in the field, sets Shira apart from other educators. Different from E-Learning, Mobile Learning is designed for student learning anytime anywhere. For the Cross Country Class, there are certainly no limits–including the Eliat Desert.
Working with little instruction and being driven by inquiry, Shira led students for the next 3 days into the desert to learn about its geological features. Students were given an iPad and asked to organize their findings in a program called School 4 One. With a slight paranoia of having no means to charge the iPads, students used the mobile tool to collect their information in a way they felt comfortable. Beginning to show willingness to do more and not feel as though they were completing work, students became more sophisticated with their use of of the app and found new innovative ways to organize their information all in real time, directly in the field.
Rather than taking multiple steps to transfer field notes to an actual product, Shira found that empowering her students with tools that allowed them to inquire about their learning and record information in a real time manner was priceless. Proven to be successful in high schools across Israel, the class works with at-risk students from public and private schools. In addition to Israel, the Cross Country Class is expanding to countries such as: China, Japan, India, and Brazil.