Vol. 8 No. 3 (2017)
Research Article

Earth observation from the ISS in classrooms - from E-Learning to M-Learning

Published 2017-01-01


  • Education,
  • Earth Observation,
  • Augmented Reality,
  • HDEV Experiment,
  • ISS

How to Cite

Ortwein, Annette, Valerie Graw, Sascha Heinemann, Tobias Henning, Johannes Schultz, Fabian Selg, Kilian Staar, and Andreas Rienow. 2017. “Earth Observation from the ISS in Classrooms - from E-Learning to M-Learning”. European Journal of Geography 8 (3). https://www.eurogeojournal.eu/index.php/egj/article/view/300.


Since April 2014, four video cameras are observing the Earth from the International Space
Station (ISS) as part of the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment. In
cooperation with NASA, the project ‘Columbus Eye – Live-Imagery from the ISS in Schools’
has published a learning portal for ISS earth observation (EO) including a large educational
portfolio (http://columbuseye.uni-bonn.de/). As there is an undoubtedly wide-spread use of
remote sensing techniques and image processing analyses for scientific and societal purposes
such as weather forecasting, ecological monitoring, or disaster management, the need to
understand the underlying processes and techniques is clearly recognizable. Nevertheless, the
application of EO-products in everyday school lessons is sparse and mostly relying on static
satellite images. The project Columbus Eye, therefore, aims at the sustainable integration of
earth observation in schools. One of its key success factors is the e-learning environment, as
it is combining computer-based and traditional learning methodologies. This paper introduces the interactive learning materials for different educational levels such as the Columbus Eye
Observatory providing insights in natural and man-made phenomena. The Observatory
provides an interactive tool that allows pupils to develop a land-use map on their own.
Moving on to more complex learning modules, e.g. the teaching unit “Calculating the Mean
from the ISS” shows how curricular maths topics and earth observation can be combined.
Finally, it will be explained how the project’s paradigm takes the next step towards
smartphone-supported m-learning. Augmented reality (AR) is used to address hurricane
movements and pressure characteristics in a mobile app. In doing so, the astronaut’s
perspective becomes a tangible experience in regular school lessons.


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