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Using mobile devices to enhance undergraduate field research

France, D., Whalley, B. and Mauchline, A. (2013) Using mobile devices to enhance undergraduate field research. CUR Quarterly, 34 (2). pp. 38-42.

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· The Copyright of this document has not been checked yet. This may affect its availability.

202kB

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Official URL: http://www.cur.org/publications/curquarterly/

Abstract/Summary

Mobile devices can enhance undergraduate research projects and students’ research capabilities. The use of mobile devices such as tablet computers will not automatically make undergraduates better researchers, but their use should make investigations, writing, and publishing more effective and may even save students time. We have explored some of the possibilities of using “tablets” and “smartphones” to aid the research and inquiry process in geography and bioscience fieldwork. We provide two case studies as illustration of how students working in small research groups use mobile devices to gather and analyze primary data in field-based inquiry. Since April 2010, Apple’s iPad has changed the way people behave in the digital world and how they access their music, watch videos, or read their email much as the entrepreneurs Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive intended. Now with “apps” and “the cloud” and the ubiquitous references to them appearing in the press and on TV, academics’ use of tablets is also having an impact on education and research. In our discussion we will refer to use of smartphones such as the iPhone, iPod, and Android devices under the term “tablet”. Android and Microsoft devices may not offer the same facilities as the iPad/iphone, but many app producers now provide versions for several operating systems. Smartphones are becoming more affordable and ubiquitous (Melhuish and Falloon 2010), but a recent study of undergraduate students (Woodcock et al. 2012, 1) found that many students who own smartphones are “largely unaware of their potential to support learning”. Importantly, however, students were found to be “interested in and open to the potential as they become familiar with the possibilities” (Woodcock et al. 2012). Smartphones and iPads could be better utilized than laptops when conducting research in the field because of their portability (Welsh and France 2012). It is imperative for faculty to provide their students with opportunities to discover and employ the potential uses of mobile devices in their learning. However, it is not only the convenience of the iPad or tablet devices or smartphones we wish to promote, but also a way of thinking and behaving digitally. We essentially suggest that making a tablet the center of research increases the connections between related research activities.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Biodiversity, Crops and Agroecosystems Division > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:43718
Publisher:Council on Undergraduate Research

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