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There are a ton of learning apps out there. Many are good, but more often than not, they just seem to offer the normal learning environment just in a new interactive form. However, we just came across Field Day, a unique new learning app. Field Day incorporates project based learning, and has proven to be a teachers favorite in the short time it has been available. We had a chance to ask Dr. Jenny Fremlin, of the Field Day team, a bit about the new app:

Field Day: Project Based Learning Think & Do Tool

What is Field Day?

Field Day is a new Project Based Learning iPad app available to teachers and classes for free in the App Store.

Who did you build Field Day for? Teachers? Students?

Our core audience for Field Day is a middle- or high-school teacher interested in implementing PBL in the classroom to improve student learning in reading, writing, STEM, social studies, history, geography, civics, or economics. However, we have tested and used the Field Day app as a training tool with educators at professional development institutes, and it is flexible enough to be used in homeschooling or higher education as well.

What makes Field Day different from other learning apps?

The Field Day iPad app addresses the need for students to use technology for research, critical thinking, and collaboration in engaging, personalized Project Based Learning (PBL) activities. Having a mobile app to manage projects and collect data allows students to go out into the real world while working on a project rather than being tied to a desktop computer. The name, Field Day, represents this freedom to explore while learning in an enjoyable and active way supported by educational technology. Field Day helps students learn to develop questions and strategies to answer real-world challenges, assisted by starter text based on Bloom’s taxonomy. Using Field Day to build challenges helps students engage in in-depth inquiry, gain knowledge, apply skills, build curiosity, express themselves creatively, and build a summary for reflection on their activities — all with 21st century competency at the core.

Why did you get involved in the Ed-Tech space?

We are an Alaskan company, based in Juneau. Using modern technology to connect with skilled others, both Alaskans and throughout the world, is imperative for our economy. Isolated teachers in remote Alaskan communities often run entire schools on their own and face difficulties getting training and support. This is an area where we could help connect educators and students to others through project based learning (PBL). PBL is a teaching method involving students with lifelong learning skills including problem solving, decision-making, and investigative activities. PBL achieves this by applying authentic challenging questions or problems to a project that students work on over time with the end result being a product or presentation. With effective implementation, students take ownership of their work and improve problem-solving and higher level thinking skills. PBL has a rich history of success for student outcomes across the curriculum and has shown strong evidence of learning gains when supported by educational technology. However, enacting project-based instruction is challenging for teachers. Effective PBL projects take more time to develop than typical lessons and are improved by self-assessments and reflection by teachers. We feel that it is important to invest in an accessible PBL app and educator network so that more teachers everywhere have the resources to build effective PBL challenges and implement them in the classroom.

Tell us about your team and their backgrounds

Our team is small, but we have big ideas and lots of passion. Dr. Jenny Fremlin is a founding partner and has a PhD in Psychology with an emphasis in Media Psychology. She has over 15 years of experience with web and mobile development and data analysis. Jenny is also a mother passionate about improving our public school system and integrating the strengths of PBL by making it easier for teachers and students to access. Chris Hustman is a founding partner and lead developer. Chris has been involved with Field Day planning and development from the start, including full development of the mobile app prototype that was tested in the Southeast Alaska rainforest. Erica Stone is an educator and higher education professional passionate about technology in education. She is the Field Day social media specialist. Dr. Lauren White is a volunteer researcher and advisor for Field Day. She also holds a PhD in Media Psychology, with a focus on the cognitive benefits of playing video games. Lauren is currently a user experience researcher at Microsoft and has spent the last two years building, running, and analyzing data on consumer technologies and internal tools. Richard Stone is a founding partner and business manager. Kina Marecki is the team user interface designer.

What is the next step for Field Day?

Our app was just released this spring, and the next crucial step is to provide teachers with the opportunity to collaborate and share best practices across geographic borders to strengthen their ability to implement quality projects. We aim to do this with a web-based Educator Center that connects with the app. The Field Day educator center will support teachers in the creation, distribution, and management of classroom Project Based Learning challenges through the tablet app. The educator center will also connect teachers with one another to build support for and enable reflection on PBL through project sharing and feedback.