TES Magazine: Virtual fieldwork to liven up geography teaching

News 2009 Tes Geography Lie Of The Land Hero TES

One of the largest teachers’ platforms in the UK, TES, has published an article in its magazine that mentions Digital Explorer’s mission to bring the discovery and curiosity for the world back into the classroom.

The article highlights how “UK's worst taught subject”, as a 2008 Ofsted report has branded geography, can transform the boredom of pupils into an exciting journey with the help of new technologies.

“Former geography teacher Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop is a firm believer that pupils in the UK can better understand issues such as religion, migration and diversity by forging friendships with contemporaries in foreign countries. Jamie is now the director of Digital Explorer, a social enterprise that uses technology to help young people explore the world, and he has been involved in sending pupils to Morocco, the Emirates and Oman.

"On one trip, pupils from four schools in London met Sheikh Khalfan, who is a teacher at the main mosque in Muscat, Oman," he says. "They probably had quite a few preconceptions about a man who wears full Omani dress. But they came away saying things like `he's the funniest man I've met' and `I've learnt so much'."

Digital Explorer has also been involved in sending remote satellite broadcasts from a UK youth expedition back to the classroom, creating an award-winning website with the Offscreen Student Expedition 2007, plus video broadcasts between Antarctica and pupils in the UK.

Jamie believes video-conferencing can provide a cheap but viable alternative to fieldwork by enabling pupils to explore the world, in real- time from the classroom.

"I arranged a video conference between the polar explorer Robert Swan and one of my classes this spring," he says. "It certainly fired up the pupils' interest in global warming for them to be talking to Robert while he was sitting in Antarctica looking at the melting snow."

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30 January 2009