EcoMOBILE (Ecosystems Mobile Outdoor Blended Immersive Learning Environment) is an extension of the EcoMUVE curriculum, developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education with funding from the Institute of Education Sciences. In EcoMUVE, students explore a virtual representation of a pond ecosystem. In EcoMobile, funded by the National Science Foundation and Qualcomm's Wireless Reach initiative, students will use the EcoMUVE software and also extend their learning with mobile technologies through one or more field trips to a local pond environment. Two forms of technology for science education will enhance their experience in the real world.
First, students will be able to access and collect information and clues using a mobile broadband device (a smartphone with Qualcomm technology). Students can capture pictures, video, or voice recordings to serve as evidence in solving an environmental mystery. The MBDs will also allow students to access special features through an Augmented Reality (AR) interface using FreshAiR , which will provide students with information that would not otherwise be apparent in the natural environment.
Second, students will use environmental probes that allow collection of real-time data similar to the kinds of data ecosystems scientists study. These probes will allow students to collect some of the same data (dissolved oxygen concentrations, temperature, turbidity, and pH) that they collected in the virtual environment. Texas Instruments is providing technical support and equipment (NSpires with Vernier probes) for the project.
Students have a need to connect the abstract ideas they are learning in science class to experiences they have in the real world. This process can be mediated by the affordances offered by mobile wireless devices. The EcoMobile project will study the extent to which current technologies can accomplish this goal in an affordable, practical manner and what implementation challenges are involved in going to scale.