Title: Using handhelds to support students' outdoor educational activities

Authors: Daniel Churchill, David Kennedy, David Flint, Nick Cotton

Addresses: Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, 116 Ranme Shaw, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong. ' The English International School, Prague Brunelova 960/12, Prague 4, 142 00, Czech Republic ' The English International School, Prague Brunelova 960/12, Prague 4, 142 00, Czech Republic. ' Rennaisance College, 5 Hang Ming Street, Ma On Shan, New Territories, Hong Kong

Abstract: This paper discusses a pilot study involving the use of handheld computers (portable digital assistants, PDAs) with a group of secondary school students engaged in a fieldtrip. Throughout the six-day trip to Northern Thailand, students engaged in variety of educational activities, with the aim of acquiring some of the key concepts and skills that are part of the Year 12 geography curriculum. To support their learning each student was provided with a PDA. Throughout the study, student use of handhelds for data collection, collaboration and reflection was observed. In addition, qualitative data from participant observations and interviews were gathered. Analysis of the data has resulted in the development of a better understanding of the potential educational applications for handhelds used during outdoor educational activities. Analysis of the data has resulted in a number of recommendations for optimal use of PDAs in fieldwork. The potential benefits for learning are discussed.

Keywords: handheld devices; inquires; fieldwork; outdoor education activities; affordances; mobile learning; m-learning; portable digital assistants; PDAs; secondary education; data collection; collaboration; reflection.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2010.031648

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 2010 Vol.20 No.1, pp.54 - 71

Available online: 16 Feb 2010 *

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