Paper No. 164-3
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TRADITIONAL AND DIGITAL FIELD NOTEBOOKS FOR INCLUSIVE GEOSCIENCE COURSES
Field notebooks are an instrumental tool for geologists. However, they pose challenges for students with physical disabilities, mainly related to limited fine motor skills or because of the need for assistive mobility devices to navigate field sites. Students with diverse physical abilities cannot always effectively handle the pencil and paper approach to typical field notebooks. A GEOPATH project led by a team of researchers associated with the International Association for Geoscience Diversity and funded by the National Science Foundation brought together a cohort of undergraduates with and without physical disabilities examined the use of iPads and other mobile technologies to record field observations on projects ranging from stratigraphy to field mapping. These trials occurred in northern Arizona in 2016 and western Ireland in 2017. Throughout each of the projects, several advantages and disadvantages of electronic field notes were observed, ranging from functionality to cost. The benefits included rain resistant notes that were stored and shared in the cloud, the ability to annotate images to immediately add to notes, carrying fewer tools due to available apps, and GPS services to accurately determine exact outcrop locations. Several disadvantages were also noted, such as the cost of the iPad and apps, battery life, sun glare, and the technological competency of users new to utilizing mobile devices. Despite these disadvantages, this novel approach to a classic field task successfully improved student engagement, allowing them to equally participate alongside their peers.