Schools from developed as well as developing nations are integrating technology in the field of education. Using technology in teaching is helping in taking down the wall between real-world and school culture. Technology is also adding a new life to some age-old training techniques, and place-based learning is one of them.

What’s Place-Based Education?

An individual can learn best when teachers use things around the community as a primary resource for teaching. Place-based learning involves integrating local knowledge and skills in the study curriculum. It connects learning with the student’s surrounding environment that can be suburban, urban, or the forest region.

Also referred to as place conscious or place and community-based learning, the teaching method can be used as a basis for learning at least a few subjects like science, social studies, and arts in the school. It helps students in identifying problems; discover solutions at an early age.

The technique has superbly worked in rural areas around the world during the last few decades as most of the children belong to families of generational farmers. Kids and parents in such regions stay away from schools as they feel learning math, history, and geography won’t help them in farming. Place-based learning helps in elaborating on the significance of geography, science, and math for making farming smarter. Thus, several schools have implemented place-based education in their day-to-day activities.

Promoting Participation In Democratic Procedures

No doubt, technology has helped in connecting people who are thousands of miles away from one another. It allows trainees to learn about the issues from around the world. People remain immersed in virtual reality for hours but remain unaware when it comes to democratic representatives of their constituencies. The feeling and lack of awareness on local issues can keep individuals away from democratic processes. On the other hand, place-based training increases civic engagement and helps students stay connected with their neighborhood. It helps them in understanding various things that their government does for them.

Young people with information, confidence, and tools can help in bringing the change at the local level by increasing participation in democratic procedures.

Connecting Kids With Their Communities

“At present, there’s no back and forth between inside school and the outside world. A child studying in the first grade would appreciate spending time in understanding school grounds, neighborhoods, and communities rather than studying the solar system. Children should be taught about the flowers that they can come across in the school premises rather than teaching them about flowers from the Amazon forest,” said David Sobel during one of the events organized by the University of Colorado Boulder. He is also the author of the book titled Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities.

“Teaching kids about local resources that they utilize daily makes a lot of sense. Talking about the local rainforest and rain is better than discussing and debating on the rainforest that’s far away. Learning about the weather conditions, budgeting, and ways to protect the ecosystem can prove beneficial and logical for students,” said the University of West Alabama’s Dr. Jan G. Miller, who works as a part of UWA’s team for Place-Based Education and Service Learning.

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education’s Prof Suzanne Stewart recently interacted with journalists & shared her opinion about the learning technique.

“Education is rooted in values, relationships, historical realities, and culture. Place-based philosophy is base around aboriginal ways of knowing. Rough camping, setting trap lines, ice-fishing, & things that have traditionally sustained the community in the region are added in the classroom learning as part of the general curriculum. Kids are introduce to elders, community key informants to teach children about traditional cultural practices, and traditional languages. The technique implemented in schools that have students from Aboriginal communities. Engaging kids with their environment can help in learning. It can be local history, culture, and other things. Children can learn faster if they are engaging in the curriculum. Several schools saw improved attendance and better retention of students after implementing such training methods,” said Stewart.

Place-Based Learning Examples

Some of the most promising place-based learning examples often make it in the headlines. The Hood River (OR)-based Hood River Middle School’s success story concerning the implementation of this learning model is already on the internet. Besides the above, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative is an example that deserves attention. Within a timeframe of ten years, 283 schools have enrolled and trained more than 80,000 students, & 1,562 teachers. These schools and some of their teachers still use place-based training as one of the instructional strategies.

A non-profit OUTFIT ‘PACERS’ often makes it in the headlines due to its community-oriented activities carried out in Alabama-based rural schools.

Currently, the education method is also implemented by some of the institutions in countries like China, India, Bhutan, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Canada.

Digital Technologies are Making Place-Based Education Even Better

Mobile Augmented Reality (AR) is promoting place-based education to reach the next level. Virtual tour creation solutions, as well as tools that help in capturing, documenting, location marking, and sharing information, are helping in making the process easy.

When combined with technology, the place-based education system has the potential to disrupt the traditional education model. Learners can also use these tools for highlighting local narratives and issues whose significance might have been miss before by cartographers.

Demand for place-based education is increasing during the coming years due to the increased interest in project-based learning around the world. Children can get affect more because of the issues in their backyard. It can equip them to remain better prepared for problems heading in their direction.

The learning technique helps in creating a connection between the classroom and rural communities. Meaningful and authentic experiences are offer to the students as educators use local contexts based on the local geography while explaining things. The immersive learning experience can be provided anytime, anywhere. It motivates kids to find information about something on their own rather than depending on teachers or textbooks. Overall, the future of place-based education seems superb.

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