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Fieldwork education innovation

GIS for fieldwork

This project aims to improve fieldwork components by using GIS, environmental modelling, and e-learning. We want to encourage and train teachers to adopt these methods so that they can professionalize their courses and enrich the learning experience of students in spatial processes and problems.

In education with a strong spatial component (such as fieldwork and excursions), students are taught to think spatially, solve location-dependent problems and interpret data they have collected in the field. Digital spatial data in a Geographical Information System (GIS) allows for fast and advanced interpretation of such data, which is widely used in industry and research. However, these methods are not widely used in fieldwork curricula. Students can learn more and faster by using GIS-methods during, and in preparation of fieldwork. Meanwhile, supervision becomes easier and requires less staff if the students’ data is remotely accessible.

For this project we developed two web-apps: Fieldwork Online at fwo.geo.uu.nl, and GEMS at gems.geo.uu.nl. The first is used by students to manage their field-data digitally and by their supervisors to track the process and provide feedback. GEMS is an online environmental modelling tool, which allows the user to easily use complex spatial models without the need of using programming skills.

The key points of our project are:

  • Better fieldwork preparation as students are acquainted with their research area, and develop hypotheses prior to the actual fieldwork.
  • Improved spatial understanding as students can easier see structures in their field data and the relation with other data sources.
  • More efficient and remote supervision as data is available online.
  • Increased discussion between students as data is shareable.
  • Field ools and teaching methods are easily implementable and we will train teachers to use them.

Article in Geografie about the project: http://geografie.nl/artikel/gebruik-van-gis-verrijkt-eerstejaars-veldwerk