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Case Study // Visualising the Planet Surface (Portugal)

 This case study story relates the experience of a Portuguese teacher engaged in the cycle 3 of pilots (Sept-Dec 2012). It gives an overview on what happenned in the classroom and on the impact of these activities as analysed by the teachers and the students.


  • Age of students: 13-16 years
  • Number in class: 17
  • The subject: Natural Sciences              
  • Aims/Objectives:  To raise awareness of the surrounding natural world and develop a sense of wonder, enthusiasm and focus on science; To analyse, interpret and assess evidence collected either directly, or from secondary sources; To plan and execute work or projects that require the involvement of different scientific fields, which are traditionally separated.
  • Over what period of time? 34.5 hours: 16.5 hours in the computer suite + 18 hours homework
  • Location of lessons? In the computer suite, outside the school in the local environment, plus homework and out of class support (including online support)
Teachers and students experiences: What happened ? 
The project  required students to georeference three tracks in the local area.  The class was divided into three groups of 5-6 students.
Research/Observation:  Following the initial preparation for the project.  The students and teacher went on fieldtrips where they were joined by members of the community, for example, a representative of the parish council and an engineer.  These external stakeholders offered advice and suggestions, and helped to place the learning in a real-life context.  During the field trips, students gathered information through a variety of methods (eg notes, photos, georeferencing).
Prototype design: The students used Google Earth and associated tools to plot geo-referenced tracks.
Participatory Design Workshop:  As in the research/observation stage, members of the local community were key to the workshop.  This fits with the school’s aim of working closely with the local community.  Following feedback from the participatory design workshop, students made changes to their prototypes.
Reflection: Throughout the project, students were guided by a weekly checklist which, “gives them a sense of what they must do and the relevant deadlines, and a sense of process” (Teacher) and they recorded their progress each week on a blog.
The end product will be disseminated in the school and community through blogs, the school webpage and the stakeholders.

Key innovations: What was new or different overall ?

  • Changing role of the teacher: The teacher describes how students took greater responsibility for their own learning and, as a consequence, her role shifted to that of a fellow learner/explorer: “iTEC allows them to also take the initiative of searching for the knowledge, researching, using Google Earth. I told them, «I am learning with you, so let's research, let’s all search»”
  • Changes to assessment: Although the process of assessment did not alter, the components of learning which the teacher was able to assess did change: “…it allowed me to assess some things which are not always easy to measure in a normal class. For example, autonomy, creativity, critical thinking…”

                                             Read the full case study