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Producing the best mobile apps for the UW experience

Category: teaching-and-learning

Learning Outside: Field research as instructional strategy

Learning Outside

The Mobile Learning Lab at WID in partnership with the Nelson Institute and DoIT Academic Technology is excited to announce a gathering of administrators, educators, scientists, humanists, education theorists, and technology developers that will offer stories and tools to inspire Learning Outside.

We are inviting fellow educators and big thinkers at UW-Madison to come and share their vision for creating irresistible learning experiences.

This event is being organized by a multidisciplinary team as part of an ongoing Educational Innovation Field Research award. This team has been piloting tools and approaches for student fieldwork using mobile devices.

We had a few goals:

  1. Blur the lines between formal and informal learning environments
  2. Situate course concepts in the context of the campus
  3. Acknowledge the whole student – mind in relation to body

Along the way we developed some free mobile tools and partnered with instructors in several disciplines to pilot those tools in their courses. Each partnership has been an adventure for everyone involved, filled with all the exuberance and frustration that come with exploring new frontiers at the intersection of pedagogy and technology. Now the Mobile Learning Lab invites other UW-Madison faculty to join us as we celebrate the spirit of innovation, share our successes and lessons learned, and seek to develop new partnerships and opportunities for using these approaches.

Field Research Tools

Siftr – designed like a social media app, Siftr engages users with field research through the documenting and sharing of visual and audio media.

ID Tool – the ID Tool functions as a downloadable field guide on your mobile device and can be customized for taxonomic research in a variety of disciplines.

ARIS – an acronym for Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling, ARIS is a platform that allows users to create and share place-based educational games for iOS devices.

Event Agenda

  • Greeting and introduction by David Gagnon and Cathy Middlecamp
  • 5-minute presentations of piloted field research activities
  • Discussion and questions
  • Appetizers and drinks


The team would like to express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the educators who were willing to take very public risks in their classroom with unknown payoffs in the name of educational innovation. We are honored to have them share their stories.

Seth McGee – using the ID Tool for plant identification in Biocore

Shanan Peters – student-run design of an ID Tool for rock identification in Geology

Ruth Olson – using Siftr in Folklore

Cathy Middlecamp and Tim Lindstrom – using Siftr for noticing sustainability issues in ES126

Mark Berres – gamifying bird identification in Ornithology using ARIS

Event Details

Please RSVP here

Thursday, December 4

4:30 – 6:00 PM

Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (Steenbock’s on Orchard)

Catered food and beverages will be provided as well as a cash bar.

MLI article about Scaling Augmented Reality just published

Tech Trends

Our team just finished a collaborative article with Kurt Squire of the Games+Learning+Society research center and Seann Dikkers, a UW Alum and Associate Prof. at Ohio University.

“Participatory Scaling Through Augmented Reality Learning Through Local Games”

The proliferation of broadband mobile devices, which many students bring to school with them as mobile phones, makes the widespread adoption of AR pedagogies a possibility, but pedagogical, distribution, and training models are needed to make this innovation an integrated part of education, This paper employs Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) to argue for a participatory model of scaling by key stakeholders groups (students, teachers, researchers, administrators), and demonstrates through various cases how ARIS ( — a free, open-source tool for educators to create and disseminate mobile AR learning experiences — may be such a model.

Get the whole article at

UW Mobile Learning Incubator Chapter featured in new book

MLI Researchers David Gagnon, Breanne Litts and Garrett Smith worked with colleague Chris Holden (University of New Mexico) to produce a book chapter about scaling augmented reality through an open source approach. The chapter describes ARIS, a free tool for creating mobile learning experiences, which was originally developed by the Games+Learning+Society research group and DoIT ENGAGE program. As of March 2014, ARIS has gathered over 20,000 users and the support of institutions such as the MacArthur Foundation, The Pearson Foundation, the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Initiative and the Minnesota Historical Society. The chapter outlines the story of how the software was developed so that experimentation with mobile learning design could be distributed among an international community of users and decentralize the maintenance of the software. The book is available from Amazon, Barns & Noble and various other book sellers.

IGN Chapter First Page

Read the Chapter Sample

Book Cover

See the book