Mobile Access to Learning and Teaching at the University of Northampton

Field trip support: dynamic visualisations for understanding biodiversity


Students on a field trip to the sea were provided with mobile video devices (portable DVD players) with multimedia information about fish species. One group were provided with a DVD of dynamic visualisations, while another group used static ones.
The project was evaluated at three levels: micro (the usability of the devices in the context of the learning activity); meso (the impact on learning); and macro (practicability of including this type of activity into a course). Students were tested on their ability to identify species before and after the activity.
The students found the devices easy to use, and there is some evidence that having access to support materials in the field was both motivational and beneficial to students’ learning.

You will need:

  • Video content (develop your own, or check for existing clips you can re-use)
  • Mobile devices to play back the video (this could be handheld devices like iPods, or portable DVD players if you plan to supply the clips on DVD.

Tip: don’t rely on your students having access to the internet (e.g. to watch clips on Youtube or the video streaming server). Wifi and 3G connections can be unreliable and expensive in fieldwork situations.



Pfeiffer, V.D.I., Gemballa, S., Jarodzka, H., Scheiter, K., & Gerjets, P. (2009) Situated learning in the mobile age: mobile devices on a field trip to the sea. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology 17 (3), 187-99.
Available online at: [Accessed Jan 2011]


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