Connecting iGeneration to the Natural World

Connecting iGeneration to the Natural World

This report from Edutopia challenges our ideas about using digital technologies as part of EE.

Some may consider technology to be a distraction or barrier, but this article reports on Kevin Barisonek's first hand experiences of how it can catalyze interest and enthusiasm around doing fieldwork in nature.

In particular, Kevin highlights four particular applications that may be of interest:

iNaturalist (iOS or Android - Free)

Users of this app make some observations and take a photo of an organism. The app includes a field guide, or you can submit what you observed to the iNaturalist community for identification. You can then keep a log of what you've identified, like a digital species collection, without the having to injure any plants or animals.

Nature's Notebook (iOS or Android - Free)

Another great app for finding and recording wildlife in your area is Nature's Notebook. One difference between iNaturalist and Nature's Notebook is that you can track and study phenology, key seasonal changes in plants and animals.

Marine Debris Tracker (iOS or Android - Free)

Humans create waste and garbage, a lot of which ends up in the ocean, creating environmental hazards, endangering wildlife, and interfering with navigation. After downloading the data collection tool called Marine Debris Tracker, kids can categorize the marine debris that they find, and upload that information to the database.

Leafsnap (iOS - Free)

Leafsnap is an electronic field guide that uses visual recognition software to identify plants. Students can take pictures of plant parts to identify a species, or use the extensive electronic field guide to do their own research.

Have you used mobile technology to carry out fieldwork with youth? What strategies and apps have worked best for you? Please share in the comments section below.

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To learn more about how mobile technologies can enhance outdoor and environmental education we encourage everyone to also check out the new issue of Green Teacher entitled "Tech it Outdoors?" ( The entire issue is dedicated to this topic.