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Wolfson Situ8

Project website/blog 

(this project is related to the creating & using location based media project)

What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes

Field work is a core part of many scientific disciplines. Students go out “into the field”, to observe, measure and record data according to their hypotheses under investigation, guided by their tutors. To date, most of these data have been recorded using paper and pen/pencil, on a clipboard, although the use of mobile technologies for use in the field is growing and can sometimes be used for both measuring and recording data. However, these tend to be fairly limited and specific in the scope of what they can record, so students still have to resort to recording data onto paper, which is later digitised (e.g. transferred over to a spreadsheet or equivalent), for subsequent analysis.

Situ8 is a prototype mobile app for Android smartphones, developed by the OU, for use in outdoor environments that enables students to upload data in a variety of multimedia formats: text, images, audio and video. These data – called ‘media objects’ or MOs – are automatically geotagged with the user’s location and name, and are uploaded to a shared repository. However, the data are only currently available to be viewed through the app, running on an Android mobile device.

This project was therefore to develop a Situ8 web platform, to enable students to also view, edit and upload data directly through the Situ8 website, thus providing a way of being able to access a rich variety of shared field data through a common web portal. Students would thus not be restricted by the limitations of using the smartphone and could also add/edit data on the web platform, which is currently not possible through the mobile app.

The project also integrates with the nQuire work being done within IET, as a scientific inquiry framework will be required to provide contextualised scaffolding to learners i.e. target end users of the Situ8 web portal.

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

End users can upload their media through the Situ8 web portal, thus capturing their experiences of, and engagement with, their physical surroundings, using a range of different formats aimed at generating reflective practices so users can carry out not only ‘reflection-in-action’ but also ‘reflection-on-action’. By experiencing how others relate to the same, or different, environments can also stimulate learners to consider their environment more broadly and from different perspectives. By providing the ability to both share and download media on the site, users can collaborate on a variety of tasks, both synchronously and asynchronously, to enable group data gathering and subsequent analysis. 

Findings and outputs

The main output of this project is the creation of the Situ8 web portal, that enables users to browse and create multimedia content that is related to one’s location. It extended the functionality of the prototype Situ8 app in several ways, notably in providing users the means to upload numerical data (e.g. from field work or citizen science events) and also in the implementation of user accounts, so users can edit and delete their media objects. Full user testing is planned for the near future, together with further dissemination activities, including academic publications. 

Related publications: FitzGerald, Elizabeth and Adams, Anne (2013) GeoHCI for learning in the wild. In: GeoHCI Workshop at CHI 2013, 27–28 April 2013, Paris, France.

Project impact

The project, in combination with the Situ8 app, has been presented to the BBC and a number of interested groups such as the British Geological Society, Natural England and Scottish National Heritage. Further public engagement events are currently being planned.  


Location-based media, user-generated content, informal learning, formal learning, place-based learning, geo-learning 

People involved

Elizabeth FitzGerald (Principal Investigator, IET)

Jan Jones (IET)

Kevin McLeod (IET)

Will Woods (IET)

Juliette Culver (IET)

Nick Freear (IET)

Project partners and links



The Wolfson Foundation (OpenScience Laboratory)

Start Date and Duration

1 Feb 2013 - 30 June 2013


Research & Innovation