Earlier this year I decided to set up learning zones, or geographical positions located around our school, where students could explore online learning experiences. But instead of sending students to these locations and asking them to complete an activity, I flipped it.
Using Apple's iBeacon technology — low-powered transmitters that notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence — I set up these learning activities to find the students. Or, I should say, they found students' school-issued iPads.
It works like this: As students enter a learning zone, their iPads detect the iBeacons, which are placed in various areas around the school. It's like playing the beloved children's game " "hot and cold." The screen shows " "cold" " until students get closer to the beacon. Then it turns to " "warm" " and eventually " "hot." " Once they find the beacon, a learning activity appears on their screens. When I first unveiled this, the students' reactions were a sight to behold.
We currently have three learning zones at our school:
- The library learning zone, where students can watch video book reviews.
- The technology learning zone, where students run through a series of video tutorials to learn the basics of coding.
- The art learning zone, where students create masterpieces through video tutorials created by our art teacher.
What excites me most about iBeacon technology is that students don't have to navigate the complexities of e-learning portals and confusing intranets. The learning comes to them.
Watch the video below to learn more about how to use this technology at school.
Paul Hamilton is the head of learning technologies for primary grades at Matthew Flinders Anglican College, a K-12 school on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. A leader and innovator in the ed tech world, he is known for his work in augmented reality and iBeacon technology. He is a bestselling author, app developer and keynote speaker.