Student Led Technology Assisted Field Trips: Challenges, prospects, and best practices


Presentation Given At: American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2016


Presenters: Dr. Loch Brown, Dr. Arthur “Gill” Green, Dr. Derek Turner


Date Presented: March 31, 2016





Field trips have long been recognized as an effective way for students from a range of disciplines to gain hands-on experience in applying concepts and building new skills (Orion, 1993; Scare, 1997). Unfortunately, the resource intensive nature of field trips in conjunction with growing operational and budgetary constraints among higher education institutions have worked to severely limit the time most students get to spend in the field (Mcguinness and Simm, 2005).  Even where traditional field trips are available, many students find themselves unable to participate (e.g. disabled students, distant education students), which strongly suggests the need for more flexible field experiences (Atchison and Feig, 2011; Gilley et al., 2015). One solution to these problems has been to develop “flexible” field trips, be they augmented or virtual reality based, that students can experience on their own time and schedule.  Such technology-assisted field trips are being adopted by institutions across North America, leading to the innovation of exciting new tools designed to overcome some of the limitations associated with traditional field trips (e.g. Stainfield et al., 2000). While this generates new and exciting opportunities for engaging students, the success of “flexible” field trips as measured by student learning hinges on informed design that applies sound pedagogical practice when leveraging new or existing technologies.  In moving this debate forward, this research offers a preliminary assessment of the effectiveness of flexible field trips drawing on case studies from a Canadian University and suggests best practice in the design and delivery of blended field trips.

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