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GEMS teacher explores mobile learning in the Badlands

Peg Keiner, director of innovation at GEMS World Academy Chicago, spent four days in the Badlands of South Dakota this summer on a professional development session about learning in the field.

Ms. Keiner coordinated the session with three colleagues — all of them National Geographic Lindblad Expedition Grosvenor Teacher Fellows. More than a dozen educators from all over the country participated in the session.

Learning in the field is a key component of the education approach at GEMS. 

“This experience stemmed from our collective desire to learn more about field protocols for data collection with students,” Ms. Keiner said. “Each of the coordinators has explored some of the most remote places in the world through the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, but we all had a deep desire to continue to expand our knowledge.”

Participating teachers were immersed in the Badlands for four days. They explored the environment and learned citizen science protocols, like water quality and arthropod sampling. They also shared their experiences via geographic information systems, astrophotography, Out of Eden Walk-style storytelling, botany, and 360-degree video and photography. Several teachers found fossils during their explorations.

“This type of field learning will continue to advance our understanding of millions of years of life that once existed in the Badlands,” Ms Keiner said. “And it underscores the importance of bringing learning out into the world.”

The unique Field Studies program at GEMS sends students of all grade levels on focused explorations of the people, institutions and environments of the city of Chicago. Students record and share data via iPads and other tools while on Field Studies. 

The program is one of the defining attributes of the GEMS approach, Congrats to Ms. Keiner for showing other educators the power of treating the world as a classroom.

See photos and a short video of the Badlands landscape below.

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