Integrating Handheld Technology with Field Investigations in Introductory-level Geoscience Courses
Laura A. Guertin March, 2006 Journal of Geoscience Education v54 n2 p143-146

Many geoscience students do not receive the opportunity to use handheld computers and similar tools during field experiences until they enroll in upper-division courses or attend field camp. Although many outdoor exercises in introductory-level courses include demonstrations of pieces of equipment in the field, students in these classes may not have a chance to use these equipment individually. However, handheld technology can be successfully integrated with introductory-level field experiences as a data collection tool and reference guide.

Palm Pilot handheld computers offer each student the opportunity to become actively involved in the field experience. Forms can be created and tailored to a specific outdoor investigation and placed on the Palms for students to collect data. Instructors can create instructional videos and eBooks with references on the Palms that correspond to the project objective.

For two years Penn State Delaware County has integrated handheld technology with field experiences into introductory-level geoscience courses in physical geology and oceanography. In addition to giving students a valuable introduction to technology that can be used in the field, the experience gives non-science majors a chance to see an application of an everyday technological tool in a nontraditional setting. End-of-semester course evaluations are filled with positive comments and student suggestions of further Palm Pilot integration.

Full text available online

Subject: Geoscience
Special Interest: Spatial Thinking
Research on Learning: Instructional Design:Teaching in the Field, Ways Of Learning:In the Field, Spatial Intelligence:Spatial Representations Of Data , Instructional Design:Use of Technology