A Mobile Situated Learning Module using Open Source Geoweb Technology

Carl Sack, UW-Madison Geography Department
Julia Janicki
Thursday 10:00 - 10:25
Session 1, Track 8, Slot 1

Mobile device technology is being introduced into educational settings and is likely to become widespread as an instructional medium in the coming years. As of 2013, nearly three-fourths of American college students own a smartphone, while four in ten own a tablet, and a majority of students believe that mobile devices can make their education more effective. There is tremendous opportunity to harness these devices for situated learning, or lessons that take place in a real-world context, through the use of mobile-ready geoweb technologies. Adaptive web maps can be developed to guide students to important places—either virtually or physically—and facilitate landmark interpretation. This presentation will demonstrate a situated learning module developed using open source geoweb technologies for an International Studies course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The purpose of the module is to “make the familiar strange” to students in the Madison landscape, guiding them to historic landmarks and pairing those places with maps, images, and narration to explore the course of economic development in the U.S. The web application makes use of the principles of responsive web design to adapt to mobile or desktop devices, altering the map interface and modes of content delivery to fit the user’s context. The mobile and desktop versions will each be evaluated to determine what adaptations effectively increased usability and whether situated viewing of the map on a mobile device influenced learning outcomes. A review of the application development and evaluation processes and results will be accompanied by a summary of lessons learned about how mobile mapping applications can adapt to their users and surroundings.