Enhancing Children's Learning Experiences
by Integrating Outdoor and Classroom Activities
Interaction Technology Laboratory, Department of Frontier Informatics
Graduate School of Frontire Sciences, The University of Tokyo
Principal Investigator: Masanori Sugimoto (sugi [atmark] itl.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp)
Project members: Pamera Ravasio, Hitoshi Enjoji, Sosuke Miura
PROJECT ABSTRACT: A system called SketchMap for supporting children's
outdoor/classroom learning is described. They use a tablet PC augmented
with a GPS receiver and a USB camera, and are asked to draw a map in an
outdoor environment. During the map creation tasks, they can easily record
what they have found by drawing it or by capturing it in an image, a sound,
or a video. The maps created by children are used for enhancing their further
learning in their classroom. By allowing individual children to share their
own outdoor experiences through the maps, SketchMap supports children's
collaborative knowledge sharing and construction processes. The SketchMap
project is in progress. The current version of SketchMap has been used in
classes of "Safety Map" and "Nature Exploration" in a Japanese
Impact on Children Learning / Instructor Teaching
Figure 1. How learning changes by integrating classroom and outdoor activities
In conventional classrooms in Japanese elementary schools, children are asked
to learn knowledge from textbook / teachers in classrooms, conduct fieldwork
surveys (e.g. visit factories), or look for related information at libraries
or web pages for investigative learning. In these activities, children use
paper and pencil in some case, and computers in other cases. Experiences or
information gained through these activities are not linked together, and
therefore, it is difficult to utilize them in order to contextualize their
learning in an easy manner.
The proposed system makes it possible to digitally record experiences and
information acquired by children through their outdoor and classroom activities.
The seamless integration of outdoor and classroom activities allows children
to (1) share individual children's information and knowledge with others,
and (2) discuss with others by reflecting their outdoor and classroom activities.
The proposed system that fully utilizes mobile and wireless technologies
allows children to share and reuse their learning outcomes based on their
learning context. Thus, a model of a course with the proposed system will
change from the "knowledge transmission" from teachers to children, to
"collaborative knowledge construction" with children and schoolteachers.
Figure 2. An overview of SketchMap
SketchMap is composed of multiple client computers (tablet PC)
and a server computer. The client computer is used to support
children in creating a map in an outdoor environment, and the
server computer is mainly used for supporting children's
individual / collaborative learning using the maps in their
classroom. The details are summarized as follows:
- Software implemented by J2SE 5.0
- tablet PC + GPS receiver + USB camera
- Logging module: stroke by stroke with time & location data
- A map stored in the SVG format and transferred to the server in the XML format
- Apache + XML database (eXist) + XQuery
- Replay software for reflection
- Google Map API
Figure 3. Hardware (above) and software (below) of the SketchMap client
Figure 4. Web interfaces for annotations in the SketchMap server:
indivudual learners' map (above) and Google map (below).
Implication for Higher Education
Although Sketchmap has been evaluated by elementary school teachers
and children, we believe that the basic idea and functions of the
system is applicable to higher education. For example, Using Sketchmap
in university classes, such as urban planning and environmental issues,
wil be possible by augmenting the system with computer simulation software, and so on.
Sugimoto, M., Ravasio, P., Enjoji, H.:
SketchMap: A System for Supporting Outdoor Collaborative Learning by Enhancing
and Sharing Learners' Experiences, In Proc. of ICCE Workshop on Design and
Experiments of Mobile and Ubiquitous Learning Environments, Beijing, China, pp.1-8 (2006).
Enjoji, H., Ravasio, P., Sugimoto, M.:
A Collaboration Support tool for Cartography Learning in the Open Air,
In Proc. of CollabTech, Tsukuba, Japan, pp.90-95 (2006).
Ravasio, P., Tscherter, V., Sugimoto, M.: SketchMap:
A Collaborative Tool to Learn Basic Cartographical Concepts,
In Proc. of COOP'06, Carry-le-Rouet, Province, France, pp.115-122 (2006).
The SketchMap project has been supported by
HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative