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Brian Whalley – Sheffield Derek France – Chester Julian Park – Reading Katharine Welsh – Chester Alice Mauchline – Reading. Using technology in fieldwork: practitioner’s perspectives and transformative experiences. Enhancement of Fieldwork Learning Project. Change.

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Brian Whalley – Sheffield

Derek France – Chester

Julian Park – Reading

Katharine Welsh – Chester

Alice Mauchline – Reading

Using technology in fieldwork: practitioner’s perspectives and transformative experiences

Enhancement of Fieldwork Learning Project

Change ........

In the last 40 years, what has changed?

In aviation?

In the way of the world?

In people's behaviour?

Internet, computing, ICT

In an increasingly complicated, complex world

Fieldwork can, and should, reflect this.

Problem solving (PBL, IBL) is one way to integrate some aspects of this complexity into educaton

in education
In Education

Use of ICT – Web and Web 2.0

  • But how good are the ICT skills of graduates in the real world?

Does the 70 – 30 'principle' still apply?

  • 70% of modules have assessment of:

70% exam and 30% CA/non-exam (usually a term paper or essays)

learning experiences

(The Sage on the Page?)

Learning experiences

NOT: ‘pile ‘em high and lecture ‘em long’

  • And then examine them!

Sage on the stage from this; the lecture?

Traveling scholar and student

The Name of the Rose -

Umberto Eco (The Sage of Bologna?)


Fieldwork is for:

  • Development of observational skills
  • Facilitation of experiential learning
  • Encouragement of student responsibility for learning
  • Development of analytical skills
  • Provision of a taste for real research
  • Kindling a respect for the environment
  • Developing personal skills
  • Lessening barriers between staff and students

(Gold, et al, 1991, Teaching Geography in Higher Education, Chapter3)

and yet fieldwork is too often
and yet, Fieldwork too often
  • Look and tell
  • Look and see (and note)
  • Measure a few things and process data
    • Often with 19Cequipment
  • Give a presentation, write an essay, report
  • And challenged because it is 'costly'
  • And may not be as effective as it could be
towards fieldwork 3 0
Towards Fieldwork 3.0

Emergence via Better Alignment Using

  • Portable hardware (sensors via USB)
  • Web 2 (hardware and 'apps')
  • Web 3 – the Semantic Web
  • Student needs and expectations
  • Delivering Real Learning Experiences
  • Appropriate assessment and feedback
  • Cognitive psychology and
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
trial and error how can we provide good learning experiences

How to avoid the panic?

Trial and error - how can we provide good learning experiences?

Trial and error - how we can provide good learning experiences.

'You know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.’

(Douglas N Adams, 1992)

Photo: Chris Ogle

and inevitably skills and employability
And, inevitably:Skills (and employability)

What skills? Traditional typology

'Professor Snape's' perspective, 'in today's competitive job market, the pressure is on students to obtain a ‘good degree’ '.

(Higgins, Hartley, and Skelton, 2001)

This begs the question:

‘what makes a good degree?’

and thus, how might it be (best) delivered?

What is a graduate in 'topic x' ?

enhancement of fieldwork
Enhancement of Fieldwork
  • By setting out better aligned programs
  • (ie student involved and ‘directed’) fieldwork
  • By using technology in various ways, especially ‘smartphones’ and tablets/iPads
  • By incorporating skills within these as well as academic attributes
we can now do this as
We can now do this as
  • Many/most students have smartphones than can use ‘apps’
  • (although not all students can afford them yet, USA as well as UK; but iPads per group can be loaned)
  • Internet/3G connectivity (Web 2) helps
  • People and groups can be linked
  • Use of technology in the field hands learning to students

'Emergence' in fieldwork:designing better fieldwork experiencescovering:

  • Defending fieldwork & providing Value for Money
  • Techniques for problems solving (for students)
  • Producing Real Life Experiences (employability)
  • Dissertation(capstone) preparation and training
  • Assessment, Feedback, Criterion referencing
  • Feedback provision on learning experiences

Defending Fieldwork(Jenkins 1997)

  • Rigorously review your department’s fieldwork programme
  • Clearly integrate fieldwork into the whole degree programme
  • Provide statements for peers on the value of fieldwork
  • Get students to articulate what they have learnt from fieldwork
  • Ensure there are demonstrable employability skills for students
  • Demonstrate through research/ evaluation studies the effectiveness of your programme
  • We take it as read that students benefit but (cost effective) fieldwork
  • Our project is to promote better student experiences with technology in fieldwork
  • And that they become more digitally literate in the process
  • Quality Education (Teaching)
  • Use of equipment (mobiles, smartphones) ethical or green policies? REEs in manufacture
  • Should we require students to use their own?
  • Air Miles and carbon footprints?
  • Dealing with people
  • (Value for Money)
howard gardner
Howard Gardner
  • The Disciplinary Mind
  • The Synthesizing Mind
  • The Creating Mind
  • The Respectful Mind
  • The Ethical Mind

Gardner, H. 2007, Five Minds for the Future

6 competencies students need to gain
6 Competenciesstudents need to gain

Competence – encouragement by challenge and remarks to achieve skills levels

Confidence – promoting remarks to show themselves, and others, their achievements

Critical thinking – which is what we have been wanting all along in 'Thinking skills’, used in problem solving

Creativity – in what students do and how they do it

Collaboration – bringing in team-working and ethics

Commonality – of purpose, to achieve specified (and unspecified) objectives

Curtiosity – being curious courteously (Kipling).

Marcia Mentkowski

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi


Course revision to incorporate these aspects?

In fact, we tend to say ….

  • ‘Yes, the students enjoyed it’
  • ‘We enjoyed it too’ and, after a few months..
  • ‘Same again for next year?’
  • ‘It is arguable that in geography, …fieldwork is intrinsic to the discipline …., yet I know of no controlled study of [its] effectiveness’ Donald Bligh 1973
  • (How) do we look at feedback from the field trip?
  • Thinking specifically here of First year – bonding, basic skills, report writing and communication
  • Second year using field trips for dissertation preparation, project planning, reporting

Theory into practise

  • Using Maskall and Stokes (2008)
  • Designing Effective Fieldwork for the Environmental and Natural Sciences
  • Using ‘Preflights’
    • (stuff done in advance; G. Novak,Whalley & Taylor 2008)
  • Using work on Troublesome Knowledge
  • Using employability skills and affordances
  • Trying to provide better experiences and feedback
  • Providing ‘value for money’
  • Being ethical


  • Positives:
  • Students (mostly) tend to enjoy it
  • Tutors too (if they believe in it!)
  • Students should learn effectively from it (as well as)
  • Remembering it and what they did (affective)
  • Collaboration via teamwork
  • Negatives:
  • Can be costly (for whom? Institution, students)
  • Is it Value for Money? (and Time and Effort?)
  • Cost Utility Analysis : Cost Effectiveness Analysis

Needs, motives, social and interpersonal skills,

Preferred learning styles, disability,

Prior experience of fieldwork


Influences on

learning, after

Maskall and Stokes,


Learning styles or

Thinking styles








Physical nature, location and

Features; cultural context;

available resources,

data Information, instrumentation

Acquisition of knowledge;

Academic and social skills;

Increased motivation

Attitudes; progression


acquiring skills


constructing knowledge and understanding

developing values

Learning(after Beetham 2002)

  • Student-centred
  • Constructivism
  • Activity based
  • Experiential
  • Communities of practice

Using digital tools

Using digital communications media

Using digital resources

Using digital etiquette


Project alignment

Field ------ Lab

GPS data

analysis and section plotting

Several groups



Comparison of between-group

results and report writing





velocity data

Lab. Analysis and Compilation

River Velocity measurements

River cross profile measurements



Combine data


GPS data


trip preparation

[ podcasts - digital reporting - vidcasts ]

Sampling Beach

Sampling Dunes



Size analysis

Report Writing and Submission

Beach and Dune Study

Vegetation surveys

(with key and photos on netbook)


with satellite images


Other reports etc



Beach-dune profile


(GPS + Netbook)


GPS data


Linking technology (smartphones and tablets) to fieldwork

Is now possible

The limitation is now instructors’ imagination

(Not ease of use, battery life, applications etc)


Educational Spaces






Team Space

Trip space

Field space

In the field





Rich Internet


Knowledge space

Student +





… lab, home, library ….


Margueritte Koole's

DLS, framework model





Netbook/iPad etc