published on March 1, 2019
Lee Beavington, Jesse Jewell
Connecting Learners to Experience and Place
The Global Positioning System (GPS) has been used as an experiential educational tool for nearly twenty years. Innovative educators have expanded the educational use of GPS devices beyond the geocache. This essay uses Leopold’s land ethic as a philosophical framework for relational education, and outlines the practical application of the GPS ecocache. The experiential, place-based ecocache has learners navigate to sites of ecological significance (e.g., plants, animals, landforms), where they must answer a question or riddle related to this site. We discuss the contradictory nature of using a gadget to connect with the outdoors, and integrate the GPS ecocache with Kolb’s model of experiential education. Ultimately, we hope to cultivate the values of Leopold’s land ethic through the use of a ubiquitously available device, and for learners to engage in relational pedagogy relevant to ecology, geography, environmental ethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of education and other courses concerned with human-nature connection and the nature of space.