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+Mobile devices as
‘boundary objects’ on
field trips
Nicola Beddall-Hill
PhD Student
Information Science Dept.
Twitter: Ci...
+
Setting &
objects of interest
 Ensemble project http://www.ensemble.ac.uk/
 An interdisciplinary inter-institutional T...
+
Paper focus
 Previous studies on mobile devices in field settings focused
the prevalence of use (Fletcher et al., 2003;...
+
Theoretical
frameworks
 The Ensemble project is using Actor Network Theory as a
frame of analysis to explore the proces...
+
Actor Network Theory
 Developed by Bruno Latour, John Law and Michel Callon
 New social theory that applied to science...
+
Boundary Objects
 BO’s can be abstract such as ideas, or material in the form of
objects; they retain a common identity...
+
Methods
 Intensive observation using various methods dictated by the
environment and activities of the students and fie...
+
Coniston
 April 2009 with City University, as part of their MSc in
Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It was based i...
+
Clips
+
Clips
+
Case 1
Technologically determined realties
 The PDA enabled the learning objectives to be met
 There was a large varie...
+
Malta
 June 2009 Kingston University and JISC-funded MORSE
project (www.jisc.ac.uk).
 MSc GIS ten students, 3 female, ...
+
Clips
+
Case 2
Different device,different readings
 By comparing the different devices the students are able to
evaluate differ...
+
+
Conclusions
 Rich place to observe the interworking of technology,
environment and learning practices.
 Concepts of ac...
+
Implications
 ANT concepts provide descriptive stories; further work is
needed to assess if this approach provides an a...
+
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This work was carried out as part of an ESRC studentship at
City University, linked to TLRP-TEL project...
+
References
Bowker, G., C. & Star, S., L. (1999) Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences. MIT Press
Boyle...
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Handheld learning conference 2009 mobile devices as boundary objects on field trips

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Handheld learning conference 2009 mobile devices as boundary objects on field trips

  1. 1. +Mobile devices as ‘boundary objects’ on field trips Nicola Beddall-Hill PhD Student Information Science Dept. Twitter: CityMobileAngel Nicola.beddall.1@city.ac.uk
  2. 2. + Setting & objects of interest  Ensemble project http://www.ensemble.ac.uk/  An interdisciplinary inter-institutional TLRP TEL project investigating the use of the semantic web for case based learning in HE.  Mobile-technology-enhanced learning OUTSIDE the classroom - Specifically mobile devices in field settings  Field courses perform an important function for developing understanding and subject knowledge (Boyle et al., 2003).  Fletcher et al. (2003) GPS devices & mobile phones used extensively in field courses & Stott (2007) suggests a key place for PDAs also.
  3. 3. + Paper focus  Previous studies on mobile devices in field settings focused the prevalence of use (Fletcher et al., 2003; Clegg, 2006) or evaluating the technology (Stott,2007; Maskall & Stokes, 2008).  Little attention has been paid to the device’s role in the social interactions and processes during learning in the field.  This paper explores the distinctive learning experiences produced by mobile devices and their role in influencing actions and decisions within collaborative group learning activities in the context of field courses.
  4. 4. + Theoretical frameworks  The Ensemble project is using Actor Network Theory as a frame of analysis to explore the processes in constructing case based learning semantic web applications using participatory design  This paper aims to explore the benefits of using concepts from ANT as a framework to explore this setting.  The nature of this analysis will tell ‘stories’ about the network of interactions within this highly complex collaborative social learning environment. It will also allow an evaluation of the potential of mobile devices to be boundary objects (Star & Griesemer, 1989).
  5. 5. + Actor Network Theory  Developed by Bruno Latour, John Law and Michel Callon  New social theory that applied to science and technology studies (late 1970’s/early1980’s).  ANT maps the material world and the conceptual world as one network (Law, 2007).  Descriptive tool kit for telling stories (Law, 2007).  The appeal of ANT is in its “sensibility to the messy practices of relationality and materiality of the world” (Law, 2007:1)  Places importance on non-human objects
  6. 6. + Boundary Objects  BO’s can be abstract such as ideas, or material in the form of objects; they retain a common identity across contexts but are flexible enough to meet the differing needs. (Bowker & Star, 1999).  Students come into the field courses often from a variety of backgrounds; boundary objects emerge from their learning needs and practices.  Discovering these boundary objects will have useful implications for designing for learning both technology and teaching (Fleischmann, 2006).
  7. 7. + Methods  Intensive observation using various methods dictated by the environment and activities of the students and field course structure.  Head cam & short video diary clips outside  Stationary digital video indoors and structured  Focus groups  Supported by field notes, GPS tracker, questionnaires
  8. 8. + Coniston  April 2009 with City University, as part of their MSc in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It was based in the Lake District.  6 students predominately international, varying age & experience, 2 female, 4 male.  Two projects each lasted two days: brief, planning, data collection, analysis, presentation & assessment.  Devices used; Garmin Geckos,Trimble GeoXM & HP PDA  Observation via video indoors, head cam outdoors, photography, field notes, structured observation record, GPS trackers.
  9. 9. + Clips
  10. 10. + Clips
  11. 11. + Case 1 Technologically determined realties  The PDA enabled the learning objectives to be met  There was a large variety of actants present; experience of students, paper maps, note books, time constraints, learning objectives which influenced processes.  The mobile device (PDA) was not a BO, but the visualizations produced by ArcPad & GPS locator demonstrated features.  Individual student decisions and environmental factors presented challenges to the achieving the learning objectives.
  12. 12. + Malta  June 2009 Kingston University and JISC-funded MORSE project (www.jisc.ac.uk).  MSc GIS ten students, 3 female, international & mature status.‘Mobile devices’ module, mainly data collection, analysis & assessment in UK.   Training first day, 2nd a tourist trail of Valletta, last 2 days 4 half-day projects mapping the coastline.  More equipment = Magellan & Etrex GPS, HP PDAs,Trimble Junos & GeoXH, Leica system 1200 & Total station.  Digital camera photos, video clips, voice recorder, field notes, focus groups.
  13. 13. + Clips
  14. 14. + Case 2 Different device,different readings  By comparing the different devices the students are able to evaluate differences in accuracy.  Similar actants; Learning objectives, environmental factors, but the device itself embodied further actants; battery life, GPS signal.  Hand drawn data tables & digital visualizations became the boundary objects with which the groups worked.  However the device’s performance and different visualisations presented challenges for this activity.
  15. 15. +
  16. 16. + Conclusions  Rich place to observe the interworking of technology, environment and learning practices.  Concepts of actor, actant and boundary object may provide a suitable method to view the complex interactions within this context, with a view to enhancing design for learning.  The Mobile device did not demonstrate features of a BO, but visualizations on the devices & older technologies did.  Mobile devices are constitutive to the learning activity by enabling recording of the environment but supplied complexity and challenges to negotiate. Simple GPS trackers presented less challenges than more sophisticated devices.  To overcome these challenges older technologies were called into action as practices with mobile devices had not yet stabilized.
  17. 17. + Implications  ANT concepts provide descriptive stories; further work is needed to assess if this approach provides an appropriate critique.  Boundary objects are useful concepts for sense making.  Visualizations displayed by the devices maybe a suitable focus.  Survey student’s own devices during the fieldwork, they may act as boundary objects due to familiarity.  Compare ‘brought in’ vs.‘personal’
  18. 18. + ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work was carried out as part of an ESRC studentship at City University, linked to TLRP-TEL project Ensemble (http://www.ensemble.ac.uk/) The author would like to thank Prof Jonathan Raper as the co- writer and Ensemble project investigators Dr. Patrick Carmichael and Ms. Uma Patel for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper. A special thank you to Victoria Crump and the author’s family for their extra support.
  19. 19. + References Bowker, G., C. & Star, S., L. (1999) Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences. MIT Press Boyle, A., Conchie, S., Maguire, S., Martin, A., Milsom, C., Nash, R., Rawlinson, S.,Turner, A., & Wurthmann, S. (2003) Fieldwork is Good? The Student Experience of Field Courses, Planet, 5:48-51 Clegg, P. (2006) From Pencils and Paper to Lasers and Laptops Proceedings of a one day conference on “Supporting fieldwork using information technology”. Experiential Learning ETL, University of Plymouth. GEES Resource database: http://www.gees.ac.uk/projtheme/cetls/el/pg.pdf Fleischmann, K., R. (2006) 'Boundary Objects with Agency: A Method for Studying the Design-Use Interface', The Information Society, 22:2:77-87 Law, J. (2007) ‘Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics,’ version of 25th April 2007, available at http://www.heterogeneities.net/publications/Law-ANTandMaterialSemiotics.pdf (20th July 2009) Maskall, J., Stokes, A. (2008) Designing Effective Fieldwork for the Environmental and Natural Sciences, GEES Subject Centre Learning and Teaching Guide available at http://www.gees.ac.uk/pubs/guides/eesguides.htm#GEESfwGuide (21st June 2009) Star, S. L., and Griesemer, J. R. (1989). Institutional ecology,“translations” and boundary objects: Amateurs and professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907–39. Social Studies of Science 19:387–420.

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