Monday, 21 March 2011

Howgill Fells Fieldtrip: Using Video and thoughts for the future

A group of 20 final year Geography and Natural Hazards students from the University of Chester were taken to the Howgill Fells in Northern England as part of a one night, two day trip to study fluvial geomorphology and how climate has impacted this environment.

In addition to data gathering field techniques, we asked each group of students (6-8 per group) to produce two short videos using digital cameras and tripods provided by the University.  Firstly we asked that  they produce a video about one of the methods that they had used and secondly, we required a video describing the landscape around them. 

The first video required them to reflect on what they had done, why they had used that particular method and what data they had as a result of the method.

The second video required the students to reflect upon the "Cook's Tour" -style snippets that had been given to them throughout the day and also upon the data that they had gathered to make sense of their landscape.  The students worked together to decide on key descriptors of the landscape before videoing themselves talking. 

The students described the video as "fun" and it was a quick exercise for reflecting on the day and fieldwork whilst still in the field.  The group plans to watch the videos when back at the University which encourages repetition of key ideas that came from the day.

Staff members observed that some of the students found the concept of aggradation and incision in fluvial environments one of the more challenging ideas.  The Enhancing Fieldwork Learning team suggested that next time the trip runs, animations or short video clips of aggradation and incision could be loaded onto mp3 players (already available for student use in the Department of Geography and Development Studies, University of Chester) or Smartphones that are mp3 enabled (student-owned) so that students have another visual aid to help them with this concept, whilst in a dynamic landscape which is characteristic of aggradation and incision.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Geo-tagging for human geography

We recently trialled some geo-tagging software with a group of students on a fieldtrip to Devon. We suggested the idea, told them to download Flickr (free app) for their (personally-owned) iPhone and let them run with applying the idea to their project which was centred around the impact of second homes in the local area.

To promote inclusivity and roll this idea out further we have trialled some other software which reduces the dependence on smart phones.

We hope to publish our results and methodology for this resource in the near future.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning: Dictation software

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning: Dictation software

Interesting! I have just installed the latest Dragon Dictate on my Mac Air. I am still training it for technical words and will report back on this for various configurations. The idea is to use it as a field notebook. However, it may suffer from ambient noise disturbing things (better noise cancelling mic other than the Plantronics one supplied might help). This could be a problem with wind noise in the field. However, the biggest problem for transcribing interviews will be the need to train the software for each user. I'll try this anyway and report back.