The role technology can play in field-based learning (e.g., biology) has long been a topic I like to present because it runs contrary to many people’s way of thinking about technology. Digital cameras, probes, and digital microscope are easy to bring into the field and allow the collection of data (broadly defined) that can be processed at a later time.
For several years, middle school students from Grand Forks and surrounding communities have been participating in an EcoEd camp at a regional state park. Technology staff members from the Grand Forks schools have been in the field supporting this experience since the projects began.
One personal observation – it has been less difficult for technology folks to find ways to assist students in what they do in the field than it has been for some classroom teachers to built on the field experiences once students are back in the classroom. I would describe this as an issue of “processing”. Hands on experiences, like information received in any form, typically must be processed to increase understanding and retention. Some of the potential benefit of “field trip” experiences goes unrealized without followup. Of course, this is not always the case and here is an interesting example of “post trip” processing from the students at South Middle School. Students were grouped as teams to describe their experiences through podcasting (vodcasting if you make a distinction between pure audio and audio+images). These projects are available from the South Middle School web site and you might want to take a look.