What if schools learned from tourist spots, museums, and other sightseeing locations? #WhatIfWeekly #GroundedCampus

Schools could learn from tourist spots, museums, and other sightseeing locations
(a 3:02 podcast by Bo Adams)

[The link above will take you to a podcast that I created on Garageband. A transcript of the podcast is pasted below (please excuse conventions errors, as I only made the script to record the podcast!). This marks my first foray into recording a podcast on Garageband, which I have been wanting to learn for quite some time. Today, I learned by doing, and I spent about 90 minutes crafting the podcast. Interestingly, I spent about three times that long trying to figure out how to embed the podcast with a media player directly into this blog. Still haven’t discovered how to do that. Any and all feedback and commentary is welcome – on the content of the podcast, as well as on the production of the podcast. I am learning, and you might be my best teacher for how to do all of this better…from the thinking about schools to the creating of a multimedia podcast that can be embedded in WordPress. Thanks for reading, listening, and viewing.]

Schools could learn and integrate a lot from tourist spots, museums, and sightseeing locations. For example, just take those multi-media, information boards that aquariums, historical sites, and zoos use. I can imagine student-generated information boards – full of pictures and narrative descriptions – in several locations on a campus…explaining the history of a building, the flora and fauna counts of a nearby woods or stream, the recent sports news highlighting the athletics teams of the school. These information boards could possess some static information, but they could also utilize QR codes so that different classes from year to year could update the more dynamic information. They could include short podcasts like the QR codes at Rock City – one at each of about 50 stops along the enchanted trail.

Students could label shrubs and trees on campus with botanical descriptor signs. These could include QR codes, too. Can’t you imagine a video pieced together by a collaborative of students in which various teams trace and track the seasonal lives of adopted flora. Through something like a time-elapse video, viewers could see the maturing of a tree compressed from years into just seconds. Student could narrate the short mini-features and update the QR codes at the signs from year to year.

On a weekend trip to Chattanooga, TN, I was also impressed by the sidewalks at the North Shore, just across the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge. Dance steps had been included in the concrete pours, and our vacation group enjoyed frequent stops during our stroll to learn the Cha Cha, the Waltz, and the Foxtrot. What if student groups designed the walkways at a school with such similar action-generating artifacts? I can imagine a student committee ideating, designing, and processing through how to make such a concept reality on the pathways that crisscross a school’s campus.

Other student committees could curate special exhibits based on their research and creations. At the Tennessee Aquarium, we marveled at a small exhibit comparing various turtle shells to a host of architectural designs and features. Students are perfectly capable of doing this typically-adult work. Through the projects, students could integrate learning and understanding that traditionally gets siloed and subdivided into departmentalized subjects. What’s more, the student committees would learn invaluable design, communication, and curatorial skills as they readied their public displays and exhibition details.

Tourist spots, museums, zoos, and other sightseeing spots seem expert at getting us to interact with what we are seeing and learning. School campuses could be such interactive destinations, and students could create, design, and implement the possibilities.

Also, @occam98 sent me this fabulous and closely related article:

The Grounded Curriculum
How can our courses and teaching capitalize on the benefits of a physical campus?

By James M. Lang

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