Teacher Review For The WildLab

Great potential but iPhone requirement is a hindrance

Chris C.
Technology coordinator
Heathcote School
Scarsdale, NY
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My Subjects English Language Arts, Social Studies
EdTech Mentor
My Rating 3
Learning Scores
Engagement 3
Pedagogy 3
Support 3
My Students Liked It No
My Students Learned No
I Would Recommend It No
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Further application
Knowledge gain
Student-driven work
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
Low literacy
Special needs
How I Use It
I have yet to use The WildLab due to what I see as it's biggest limitation, the need for iPhones. The premise is amazing, documenting sitings of birds with an app which then takes the data and send it to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for scientific research. It is a great premise, having students take part in a real scientific research. The shortcoming, and why I have yet to use it with my students, is the iPhone requirement. The WildLab is really more of an app and less of a website. The website allows offers some lesson plans but the greater purpose is to track all of the bird sightings, by breed and location, that each student has documented. The app requires an iPhone because it uses the GPS functionality to mark the location of sightings. I understand the need to document the exact GPS coordinates, especially for scientific research, but requiring an iPhone greatly limits the possibility a whole class can participate. The site claims the app is for 5th-12 graders but since a phone is key I would be more inclined to think the app/site is better suited for older students, especially in a 1:1 or BYOD environment. In addition, they do no currently offer an Android app so that again greatly limits the potential number of students that could be participating individually. The site states the organization will assist in getting classes iPhones as part of the project but I have yet hear back on exactly how that works. It looks like it has great potential and I will definitely be pursuing it further in the Fall.
My Take
My overall opinion is The WildLab looks like it has a ton of potential. The need for iPhones is a huge stumbling block, especially in the lower grades were few students have their own devices, and not always iPhones. It would be great if there was a way to use an iPad or iPod Touch to take the photo and document, in some way other than GPS, the location of the photo and then use the website, or a school's wifi, to upload the photo and add GPS data later. I am definitely going to pursue the offer from The WildLab to help with acquiring iPhones and I will also work with my Principal and Science teacher to try to figure out a way to allow students who have access to iPhones to bring them, and use them, at certain times as part of these lessons. The ability to get out of the classroom, and school, and take a local nature walk is an amazing opportunity. I think students will love it once we can get over the technology hurdle of needing iPhones.