Students do eco-study in Costa Rica - remotely

Grad students travel to Costa Rica, webcast and podcast their findings and develop ecological curriculum for students at McGinnis School.

Thanks to some innovative educators and podcasting, some students in New Jersey will get a chance to study the ecology of Costa Rica, reports theHome News Tribune Online

Rich in biodiversity, Costa Rica is a perfect place to study ecological issues, such as global warming. Through an two-year partnership with Kean University, headed by Michael Searson, Kean's executive director of the Center for External Education and Development, some McGinnis School students were given Apple computers to use in their core classes. The computers are allowing students to vicariously travel on an educational tour to Costa Rica, with a group of graduate students who are tailoring a curriculum for the students at McGinnis School.

"We developed a 21st-century approach to global education," said Searson, adding the approach involves having people take their voice recorders, laptops and digital cameras on their trip so they can reflect on their travels in Webcasts and blogs. "Ideally we'd love to have all the kids come with us," Searson said.
Students are very excited about the project. They seem to prefer using podcasts and multimedia files to textbooks.
"When we wake up, we're happy to go to school," said student Piero Bertone. "It's a big difference. We can understand it better (using computers) than the text books. There a lot of Web sites. It helps you learn better."

"It allows students to be able to reflect on the process of implementing strategies to help them become better learners," said Mary Guba, the seventh-grade reading specialist at McGinnis. She said it's the out-of-the-box approach to teaching students that will enable them to understand concepts and be creative at the same time.