Digital (Urban) Geography: Student-led research methodology training using smartphone apps

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Holloway, Paul
O'Connor, Ray
Linehan, Denis
Kenna, Therese
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University College Cork
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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Research Projects
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In the last decade, opportunities have emerged to deploy new digital technologies to research agendas and research-led teaching at third level. For instance, research methods such as surveys and questionnaires are shifting into the digital environment, while at the same time there is increasing evidence to support the view that people who have grown up with technology have acquired distinctive new ways of learning, and that traditional methodologies fail to maximise student engagement (Lafuente 2018). Thompson (2013) suggests that these ‘new learners’ are constantly using technology, multi-tasking in interactive environments, and collaborating online, yet research shows that many students are unaware of the potential of their smartphone to support learning (Woodcock et al, 2012). Despite a widespread interest in mobile devices facilitating teaching and learning in third-level education geography departments (Welsh et al. 2013), many research techniques are still taught using traditional ‘pen-and-paper’ methodologies. The ESRI Collector for ArcGIS is a mobile application (app) that can be used with iOS, Android, and Windows smartphones. Collector for ArcGIS is beginning to emerge as a technology to support spatial thinking in geography at second-level education and third-level education (Pánek and Glass 2018). Here we report on our strategy of integrating mobile technology in GG1015 Applied Geography, a large (250+) class introducing first year BA Arts Geography programme students to a number of techniques that we use in Geography. This module sits between GG1013 Environmental Geography and GG1014 Society and Space in the first-year programme. Both of these modules are a block of 24 1-hour lectures, with multiple choice quizzes (MCQs) and essay-based exams. Subsequently, GG1015 was developed to compliment these modules and introduce different teaching styles that facilitate learning across a range of diversities. Throughout this module, students engage directly in fieldwork, photographic activities, essay writing, presentations, and small group work. As such, this module offers an excellent case study to explore new techniques to engage students in learning, particularly in geographic research.
New digital technologies , Research , Surveys , Questionnaires , Student engagement , New learners , Smartphone , Collector for ArcGIS , Mobile technology , Geographic research
Holloway, P., O'Connor, R., Linehan, D. and Kenna, T. (2019) 'Digital (Urban) Geography: Student-led research methodology training using smartphone apps', Learning Connections 2019: Spaces, People, Practice, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, 5-6 December, pp. 155-160. doi: 10.33178/LC.2019.30