The Enhancing Fieldwork Learning team have been researching and sharing innovative ways to enhance fieldwork teaching and learning through the use of mobile technologies. The arrival of more powerful and affordable smartphones and tablets has meant that most students starting in Higher Education now have access to mobile technologies which could be used to enhance their learning experience.

Ultimately, the EFL project has been promoting the integration of active learning into fieldwork and the technology simply supports educators and students to create novel educational activities. One such opportunity is the collection and sharing of georeferenced data in the field and many mobile apps are now available to support this approach. This leads to the concept of ‘citizen science’ where students are able to engage with others to crowdsource/share their data to build a larger dataset thereby opening up many research and knowledge generation possibilities.


There are three main motivations for integrating Citizen Science into Higher Education curricula; to provide skills training, to integrate active learning approaches and to increase students’ engagement with their learning:

  • Skills training –enhancing graduate employability
    • Scientific skills: e.g. Sampling strategy & techniques, digital mapping, ID, project design, data management, research skills
    • ‘Soft skills’: e.g. digital literacies, global citizenship, team working, professional online behaviour, (social) media skills, creativity
  • Active Learning
    • For large class sizes
    • For MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
    • Enquiry-based learning
    • Research-led teaching
  • Students’ engagement in their learning (fun!)

There are many ways in which a citizen science approach can be used to support active learning in Higher Education and the EFL team are currently researching the benefits of this approach and we are looking for case study examples. We will report on our findings here soon. Please see this slideshare presentation for further details.

We would love to hear from you if you are currently involved in a citizen science project and wish to engage with HE or if you are a fieldwork leader and you are considering integrating citizen science into your teaching. Also, please get in touch (by email to if you are already doing this as we would love to learn from your experiences.

Active learning = Any instructional method that engages students in the learning process – doing meaningful learning activities & thinking/questioning what they are doing

Citizen Science = the involvement of volunteers (i.e. people who are not involved as part of their employment) in science (Pocock et al., 2014)

Pocock, M.J.O., Chapman, D.S., Sheppard, L.J. & Roy, H.E. (2014). Choosing and Using Citizen Science: a guide to when and how to use citizen science to monitor biodiversity and the environment. Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

EFL Showcase 2016

The 6th Annual Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Showcase took place at the University of Reading on the 12-13th September 2016. It was attended by 29 academics, students and learning technologists and, building on the previous Showcases, the event aimed to share ideas and practice with regards to innovative field and laboratory Teaching and Learning, with a particular emphasis on the use of technology in the field. The programme consisted of a mixture of plenary talks, short research talks, interactive field demonstrations, workshops and open discussion sessions. The overall theme was Imagery in the Field and delegates offered talks of relevance to this theme.

Images from the Showcase taken using microscopes attached to iPads in the field are here:

Follow the interactions on Twitter using the hashtag #imageEFL16

The programme is shown below  – slideshare presentations to be uploaded shortly.

  • Plenary – Practitioners’ perspectives of Bring Your Own Device for Fieldwork Derek France University of Chester
  • Google Expeditions to complement to fieldwork. Steve Tilling and Shailey Minocha. Field Studies Council
  • Using an urban campus to teach ecology Julie Peacock and Karen Bacon. University of Leeds
  • Exploring 360 degree videos to support field courses Trevor Collins and Paul Hogan. The Open University
  • Enhancing Fieldwork Learning using an eBook Judith Lock and Charlie Cosstick: University of Southampton
  • Farm visits; Increase active participation and engagement Yiorgos Gadanakis: University of Reading
  • Digital technology, geomorphology and urban geography Iain Cross & James Beardsmore: St Mary’s University
  • Imagery in the Field – practical field demonstrations on the Whiteknights Campus
    • Camera trapping – Becky Thomas: Royal Holloway, Tara Pirie: University of Reading and Pen-Yuang Hsing Durham University
    • iPad microscopes – Alice Mauchline, University of Reading
    • Go-Pro – underwater cameras and student engagement – Lesley Batty: University of Birmingham
    • Hand held cameras – Brian Whalley: University of Sheffield
  • Drones and visual imagery in research at Sonning Donal O’Sullivan: University of Reading
  • A discussion of the use of drones in teaching Derek France: University of Chester and Brian Whalley: University of Sheffield
  • Free time with equipment: A chance for participants to test equipment and start to think about its relevance to their teaching
  • What happened last night? Participatory activity to extract images from the camera traps. Alice Mauchline: University of Reading
  • Crowdsourced camera trapping for ecology and citizen science Pen-Yuan Hsing. University of Durham
  • Science communication skills in fieldwork Joanna Bagniewska: University of Reading
  • Participatory approaches, images and field botany skills Alastair Culham and Jonathan Mitchley: University of Reading
  • Widening access to fieldwork with interactive livecasts Julia Cooke, Philip Wheeler, Kadmiel Maseyk, Trevor Collins: Open University
  • Clipper: A virtual clipping tool for audio and video resources Trevor Collins, John Casey and Will Gregory: Open University
  • Report on 2015 EFL Twitter Scavenge activities in Hyde Park: Karen Devine: British Ecological Society
  • Designing Imagery based teaching activities: A practical workshop. Using experience gained from the Showcase talks and demonstrations, this workshop session allows delegates the opportunity to develop their own innovative pedagogic ideas
  • Testing teaching activities from the mornings workshop
  • Reflections Julian Park: University of Reading

Who are we?

The Enhancing Fieldwork Learning project team includes specialists from across the biological, geographical and geological disciplines.

PrintOriginally funded by the Higher Education Academy, the project is now maintained by the British Ecological Society and seeks to bring anyone interested in fieldwork together to share best practice in field teaching and research.

Anyone can get involved in the project, annual showcase events provide opportunities for individuals to come together, discuss and develop field teaching skills.

While the project retains it’s original focus on the use of digital technologies in field teaching, significant work is undertaken to support anyone developing their skills at any level of field teaching and research.