Technology has a great potential to help students learn about environmental education in the outdoors. In this article, I will provide five mobile phone apps that allow students to learn about their local environment using technology. These applications have a great potential to help students become more aware and knowledgeable about the earth’s environment in a localized context.
1. iNaturalist (IOS/Andriod)
iNaturalist gives students the capability to use their mobile devices to observe and identify organisms in the environment. Whether it is a bug, flower, tree, or deer in the student environment. iNaturalist will give the student the ability to identify the scientific names of the organisms within minutes. Students can store all their observations on the application with their location and time saved. Moreover, the students can access information about each organism they observed. Students also can share their observations with the naturalist community for expert identification, discussions, and feedback.
PeakVisor gives students the ability to identify mountain peaks surrounding them with augmented reality. As students point their mobile device’s camera at a mountain range, the peaks are identified on their camera display. The name and elevation of each mountain peak are provided to the students along with the ability to access more information about each peak. The application can be used without internet, which makes it a perfect learning application to use in the remote areas of the outdoors.
3. Agents of Discovery
The USDA Forest Service and American Recreation Coalition joined efforts to create Agents of Discovery. Agents of discovery allow students to learn about public lands and parks with augmented reality games which are triggered when students visit the outdoor location. Students use the map built into the application to search for new locations to trigger the educational augmented reality games. Each augmented reality game is site-specific and focuses on teaching students about the site’s environmental topics through gamification. The application can be used without the internet by downloading the AR games prior to use.
4. Starwalk 2
Starwalk allows students to identify stars, planets, constellations, and objects in the night sky with augmented reality. Students identify their observations by simply pointing their mobile device camera up at the night sky to identify observations in space. Students also have the opportunity to access information about each of the identifications they observe.
eBird allows students to observe, identify, and record birds in the environment around them. Students can upload photos and sounds recordings to identity their bird observations. Students’ observations can be shared among the eBird community to contribute to tracking bird migrations for scientific research. Students also can access more information about each of their bird observations. eBird is a great application to help students understand and learn about the diverse bird’s populations in their local environment.