The ‘Out There and In Here’ project explores the possibilities for new technologies to support distributed, synchronous collaborations between students in the field, and others based in a stationary location. In our first set of trials, geology fieldwork in a higher education context provided the test domain for design and evaluation of a prototype system, from which wider issues with developing interdependent learning experiences across mobile and static contexts can be identified and analysed.
We are developing and evaluating systems to link students using mobile computing devices in the field, connected via mobile telephony or satellite data networks, to students in a ‘mission control’ style classroom, using an interactive table-top, projected displays and other technologies, supporting access to a range of relevant resources, the review and organisation of data, and the development of hypotheses and reports.
The project is based in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. Within the OU, collaborators include the Pervasive Interaction Lab, the Knowledge Media Institute and the Department of Earth Sciences. Commercial partners are Microsoft and The Sea, who develop the OOKL software for mobile learning.