The first trial with actual students!

My name is Sarah Anstis-Smith and I work at Preston Montford Field Centre as a Senior Tutor in ecology.  So far I have only really been involved with trialling parts of the pond FNS as a pretend student and found it to be a very exciting new way to collect data with students in the field.

Jim “suggested” to Trevor I would be happy to test a prototype with a group of actual students.  The group were an adult access course from Yale College in Wrexham of 16 students.  After an introduction to the fieldwork they would be doing, we headed out to the pond with our tablet computers.

The network had already been set up by Javier and Trevor, so all the students had to do was start entering data.  In the main this went very well.  The entry is very straight forward and self-explanatory.  The only problems we had were one group who preferred to record their data on paper and then feed it all into the tablet in one go at the end and we also had some difficulty seeing the screens in the sunshine (mustn’t complain about the sunshine though!).  Most students said that they enjoyed using the system.

As a tutor, it was great, as I was able to see what data was being collected, and could home in on groups that had found something particularly exciting or that might be a suspect identification whilst we were at the pond.  At the end of the session, we were able to have a quick discussion about the main trends, with all students able to see a summary table of the class data which is something that you just can’t do with a paper based recording system until you return to the classroom and enter the data into a spreadsheet.

I am very excited about using this in the future with groups and we are already planning how we can integrate the system on other teaching days as well.