Paper No. 363-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
STUDENT PERSPECTIVES ON WIRELESS COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES TO FACILITATE INCLUSION IN FIELD ACTIVITIES
Field research for students with physical disabilities can be difficult because of the inaccessibility of most natural field locations. Although a student may have difficulties physically reaching a field location, he or she can still be involved in research initiatives by accessing the field site remotely by utilizing new technologies to participate and record observations. Remotely accessing physically inaccessible field locations can greatly influence future field research initiatives. A two year GEOPATH project in 2016 and 2017 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 to better understand how new field-based communication technologies can improve inclusion of all students in the natural environment. Although there was limited success with typical communication devices such as walkie-talkies, the most success was found with the implementation of several Local Area Network towers which provided students with the ability to live-stream from one field location to another. In addition, the use of video cameras to record inaccessible field locations, and mobile devices to instantly share and annotate images made remote access an appealing and practical option. These technologies increased inclusion for students with physical disabilities, promoted increased social interaction between students, and emphasized the importance of collaboration, both within and between groups.