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Technology in the Outdoors. Devices and Smartphone Apps. Anna Freedman OWA Conference 2013. Philosophical Tension. Outdoor Education seeks to distance participants from technology to experience nature in its purest form.

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technology in the outdoors

Technology in the Outdoors

Devices and Smartphone Apps

Anna Freedman

OWA Conference 2013

philosophical tension
Philosophical Tension
  • Outdoor Education seeks to distance participants from technology to experience nature in its purest form

Outdoor Education programs are becoming reliant on certain aspects of technology ie. Safety, gear, navigation.

the upside of modern technology
The Upside of Modern Technology

The perceived benefits of technology in the outdoors

  • Increases safety
  • Increases efficiency
  • Enhances convenience and comfort
  • Expands possibilities
however cuthbertson socha and potter 2004
However…. (Cuthbertson, Socha and Potter; 2004)

Technology in outdoor settings, may have the “revenge effect” (Tenner 1996)

Modern technology in attempting to increase participation in the outdoors by making free-nature more accessible and more comfortable to be in, has also had the unintended, antithetical effect of insulating people further from natural processes, both in terms of direct experience and in acknowledging their own impacts. (pg. 136)

If one of the goals of outdoor education is to connect with nature and the rest of life, the technology filter which adds membranous layers to our direct encounter with the natural world has the potential to work against the actual goal of the OE program. (pg. 237)

implications of technology cuthbertson socha and potter 2004
Implications of Technology(Cuthbertson, Socha and Potter; 2004)
  • Implications of Technology on Outdoor Experience
    • Increase in popularity of Leave No Trace camping has replaced cooking over fires to cooking with camp stoves – therefore eliminates the ‘need’ to learn traditional skills
    • Gear is now made the best and lightest materials – no natural fibers are now used.
    • Technology as a substitute for skill, knowledge and understanding – UNTIL it fails!
    • Perceived safety - does carrying safety gear make us safer?
    • Decreased attachment to place
    • Personal growth – learning how to perform fundamental outdoor skills with success can lead to much personal growth (Potter, 1993)
therefore cuthbertson socha and potter 2004
Therefore…(Cuthbertson, Socha and Potter; 2004)
  • Instructors should ask themselves if the inclusion of another human-dominated layer, mediating our relationship with nature, is compatible with (ie. Is enhancing) program goals, is necessary for issues of safety and/or time, or is unnecessary and detracting from what they see to be at the heart of students’ experience (pg. 141)
  • From there… we make decisions as to what level within our program we will add modern technology.
st hilda s and technology in the outdoors
St Hilda’s and Technology in the Outdoors
  • Staff: All full time staff have a smartphone.
      • Issues: Battery Life and Reception
  • Department Issue: IPad / Apple TV / Go Pro / Digital Camera / Satellite Phone / Radio system
  • Modern technology such has smartphones out in the field are only used by instructors and not by students.
safety devices satellite phones
Safety Devices – Satellite Phones
  • A Satellite Phone is issued to each group in the field. The most reliant emergency phone device although cannot always get signal (ie in a gorge or thick bush).
  • Need to have clear instructions on how to use as some use international networks and others use australian networks
spots www findmespot net au
Spots –
  • Spot GPS - $198
  • Spot Connect - $239
  • Basic Plan $115 per year
  • Additional plans approx $50
safety devices radio systems
Safety Devices- Radio Systems
  • Marine VHF Radios
  • VHF School Radio System – Great for areas of low mobile coverage. Expensive to acquire.
navigation apps
Navigation Apps
  • Navionics – Australia and NZ
    • $40.99
    • Can be used on land and with no mobile reception.
navigation apps1
Navigation Apps
  • MudMap
  • -$139.99
navigation apps2
Navigation Apps
  • Google Earth – FREE
  • MotionX GPS - $1.99
  • Marine Tides Planner - FREE
  • Declination - FREE
weather apps
Weather Apps
  • Oz Weather - $1.99
weather apps1
Weather Apps
  • Willy Weather - FREE
  • Good Swell information (includes Rottnest)
weather apps2
Weather Apps
  • Seabreeze - $1.99
weather apps3
Weather Apps
  • WindGuru - FREE
  • Perth Winds - $1.99
  • Rain Radar AU - $0.99
  • Windfinder – FREE
  • Elders Weather - $1.99
safety apps
Safety Apps
  • The Australian Early Warning Network – FREE
safety apps1
Safety Apps
  • Beach Safe – FREE
safety apps2
Safety Apps
  • Twitter – FREE
    • DFES (@DFES_WA) - Bushfire advice
    • Surf Life Saving WA (@SLSWA) – Shark Sightings posted as soon as they are reported.
field guide apps
Field Guide Apps
  • WhatKnot - Free
field guide apps1
Field Guide Apps
  • The Michael Morecombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia - $31.99
field guide apps2
Field Guide Apps
  • Clouds and Weather - $1.99
field guide apps3
Field Guide Apps
  • Night Sky 2 - $0.99
other outdoor and office apps
Other Outdoor and Office Apps
  • Australian Wildflowers - $2.99
  • Dropbox
  • DocsToGo – Word / Excel
  • 2XClient – Remote Server