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Personal Digital Assistants
Virtual Field Trips




                                         Team Blue

                                       Kevin R. Curtis

                              Grand Canyon University: Tech 546

                                       March 22, 2011
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                                           Introduction

       According to the National Council for the Social Studies, the “primary purpose of social

studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for

the public good as citizens” (Crowe, 2006, p. 4). As multimedia and technological tools become

more accessible in Western society, it is absolutely imperative that teachers carefully consider the

digital native students whom they are charged with the responsibility of educating. As digital

immigrants, Educators need to be fully aware of students who can easily manipulate

technological tools like Personal Digital Assistants and Virtual Field Trips. (21st Century

Schools, 2009). To become and remain informed citizens, students must have access to

information and they must be able to understand and evaluate the accessed information as well.

This can begin and continue in all levels of the classroom through the use of multimedia

technology. Teachers can measure an increase in student motivation through the successful

implementation of multimedia tools like Personal Digital Assistants, which enhance instruction

and make learning a more engaging experience.
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                                           Virtual Tours

       Another powerful tool is the use of Virtual Field Trips (VFTs). Teachers can assign

students Virtual Field Trips on pre-determined Websites so students can reap a more realistic feel

for historical events and material (Planet in Action, 2009). Students can explore fascinating

Websites like those provided by The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

(Smithsonian Institute, 2009) and Google (GoogleEarth, 2009) to engage themselves in

panoramic history. Virtual Field Trips provide students with access to required core material

without the drudgery of read and respond learning. In addition, Virtual Tours like AR Sights

Augmented (2009) can bring in-the-round images of natural and man-made wonders to the desk

of the learner. This is an amazing tool that will augment any lesson with holographic images.

Each VFT activity is important for learners as they engage themselves in learning why history is

important to them on a more personal level. With that in mind and the sheer fascinating nature of

the tours, history teachers would be wise to use VFTs as an integral part of their lesson plans as

they provide learners with the opportunity to see history unfold before their very eyes while

helping them become responsible and informed citizens.

       Virtual Field Trips (VFT) provides students the opportunity to view incredible 3-D

images and learn about the history of the world and science as well as many cross-curriculum

tours. The ease of navigating through VFT’s is one of its best features as students can stop and

view a topic of interest. Many VFT’s go beyond the scope of any one history class, yet are fully

invested in both past and current events. Virtual Tours will fascinate the learner and capture the

attention of viewers of any age. VFT’s allow students to fly around the world and tour historical

cities as well as natural wonders of the world. Many sites give students the opportunity to play

games as they increase their knowledge and experience around the globe.
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       In addition, Virtual Tours can bring in-the-round images of natural and man-made

wonders to the desk of the learner. This is an amazing tool that will augment any lesson with

holographic images. Each VFT activity is important for learners, especially those at all levels of

understanding, to explore and research answers to common questions, with particular attention to

the question of “When will I ever use this (sic)?” So with that in mind and because of the sheer

fascinating nature of the tours, teachers would be wise to use VFTs as an integral part of their

lesson plans. The tours will answer the age-old questions of “why is (insert curriculum)

important,” and “when will I ever use this in my life?” Finally, the VFT’s provide learners,

usually at no cost, with the opportunity to see academia unfold before their very eyes as well as

how it is helping them become responsible and informed citizens.

                                    Personal Digital Assistants

       Personal Digital Assistant devices are widely used by the up and coming digital native

students. PDA’s are hand-held, multi-tasking devices that can be used by teachers to both send

and receive assignments. A fundamental principle of learning is through experiences. In using

PDAs, students can instantly obtain information the teacher deems important and then

subsequently the student can demonstrate a certain level of mastery. Students can use PDAs for

receiving assignments while having the ability to report back to the teacher. As young students

are becoming more and more reliable on PDAs for their basic communication needs, teacher’s

can use the opportunity to encourage students to use those same PDAs to read needed Web based

material, record assignments due dates either by voice or touch screen, and even download and

upload tests and assignments, to name a few (Wohlwend, 2009). Students will be more likely to

read assignments on their PDA’s as well as watch academic video as well as record and replay

Teacher presentations and lesson plans. PDA’s are the perfect complement to Simulations,
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Virtual Tours, Podcasts, E-Assessments and Audience Response Systems. Teachers who use

PDA’s as instructional and assessment tools will likely experience an increase in academic

activity from their students as the 21st century classroom becomes a reality.

                                            Conclusion

         The use of PDAs and Virtual Field Trips improves the collaborative community that

needs to be developed as teachers find ways to connect core material to current event situations.

PDAs allow learning to occur in a best-practice manner as both teacher and students have a

mutual high level of respect not only for each other’s generational perspective, but also for the

need to use tools familiar to both (Dearnley, McKnight and Morris, 2004). Virtual Field Trips are

an engaging tool to teach additional material to the new digital learner. The Virtual Tour

provides a more real-to-life experience for the learner as well as supplementing core material

teachers will find engaging for students.

         The use of Personal Digital Assistants and Virtual Field Trips also give students a more

cutting-edge delivery system for reporting and receiving assignments. Because of the digital

native nature of young learners, teachers would be wise to use VFTs and PDAs in their

classrooms (Anyanwu, 2003). As they do, teachers will discover an increase in student activity

and performance for assignments and tests. As a whole, teachers who use these multimedia tools

will foster a more collaborative environment that provides students the opportunity to discover

historical information and how that information relates to them and their environment (Edutopia,

2009).
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                                           References

Anyanwu, C., (2003, November). Myth and realities of new media technology: Virtual

       classroom education premise, Television & New Media, 4(4) 390 – 400. Retrieved

       March 21, 2011 from

       http://online.sagepub.com/cgi/searchresults?fulltext=Myth+and+Realities+of+New+Medi

AR Sights Augmented Reality. Retrieved on March 22, 2011 from

       http://ge.ecomagination.com

Crowe, A. (2006). Technology, citizenship, and the Social Studies classroom: Education for

       democracy in a technological age. International Journal of Social Education, 21(1),

       111-121. Retrieved March 20th, 2011 from

       http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/3a

       /f2/23.pdf

Dearnley, J., McKnight, C., and Morris, A., (2004, December). Electronic book usage in public

       libraries a study of user and staff reactions to a PDA based collection. Journal of

       Librarianship and Information Science, 36(4)170-180. Retrieved March 20, 2011

       http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/dis/disresearch/bibliomeda.html

Edutopia. “Ten top tips for teaching with new media.” Retrieved March 21, 2011 from

       http://www.edutopia.org/ten-top-tips-last-chance

GoogleEarth. “Land on the moon in Google earth.” Retrieved on March 20, 2011 from

       http://earth.google.com/moon

Planetinaction. “It’s Your Playground.” Retrieved on March 22, 2011 from

       http://planetinaction.com
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Ray, B.B., McFadden, A., Patterson, S., & Wright, V. (2001). Personal digital assistants in the

       middle school classroom: Lesson in Hand. Retrieved March 19, 2011 from

       http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/sum2001/palm/index.html

Robbins, M. (2008, October). Virtual field trips in the elementary classroom. Retrieved March

       20, 2011 from http://cnx.org/content/m18062/latest/

Smithsonian Institution. “Panoramic Virtual Tour.” Retrieved on March 20, 2011 from

       http://www.mnh.si.edu/panoramas

Wohlwend, K. (2009). Early adopters: Playing new literacy’s and pretending new technologies

       in print-centric classrooms. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 9(2), 115 – 13.

       Retrieved March 22, 2011 from http://ecl.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/9/2/117

       Young, J. (2009).

				
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