Whilst analysing enrolment data for my employer I came across a really useful service provided by BatchGeo. In summary you can import a list of postcodes from an excel spreadsheet and the service maps them on to a Google Map. This can be used to enhance teaching and learning in many ways. Some examples include geocaching (treasure hunts) for induction activities or plotting local services or transport routes. Police.UK use a similar approach when displaying crime statistics in a particular area. Advanced features allow you to import more than one column before validating your data set and using a colour key to enhance your map. As it uses Google Maps you are able to zoom in and our and utilise street view if appropriate. Finally you can also embed your maps in to your blog or website.
As those who know me may know I do often favour the Apple i-product range for my personal devices for consistency, design and reliability. I also am a huge fan of Google services for accessibility and integration.
From a teaching and learning perspective I do believe accessibility should always take precedence, as learning should be available to all. Often the intersection between technology and teaching and learning sparks countless debates around who should provide the hardware… this debate will not end any time soon and therefore as providers of education we have to cater for learners who wish to bring there own devices, and those who don’t own the particular devices, rather than a one size fits all.
The organisation I currently work for has recently increased the number of IPADS for teaching and learning in particular in Active Learning Zones on one of its main campuses. The challenge/problem is the associated cost of replicating this across many of the smaller sites. I hope to explore ways to improve accessibility for all and after reading reviews of the Nexus 7 I feel there might be possibilities in part due to the significantly lower cost of the devices. If anyone has had experience of these devices, or of has experience of ‘zero cost’ strategies of providing hardware I would be pleased to hear from you. My reckoning is that for as little as £1 per day (hire cost) over the course of a typical academic year the hardware would essentially be paid for. The option of a £10.00/20.00 annual membership fee for the scheme would help cover the cost of loss, damage, theft and periods of low demand.