Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


As technology heralds all-inclusive school field trips


Establishing live, interactive links between pupils on field trips and those in the classroom is a set of tools that frees teachers from the challenge of engaging all pupils on external field trips.

Organising field trips may sometimes be difficult because the venue limits the total number of visitors or parents may simply be unable to afford the additional costs involved. Therefore the IST programme-funded RAFT project set out to demonstrate the educational benefits of external field trips for classroom pupils, in order to prompt best practice for such activities and to promote a market for technical products. The project also aimed to push the standards envelope on current learning materials, and to establish new forms of pupil collaboration using real-time video conferencing and audio communication in a real-world context.

Describing how RAFT tools can help teachers promote pupil inclusion into external visits project coordinator Marcus Specht says: “Our main achievement was to establish the methodology and technologies that would enable teachers to organise field trips that would not have been possible before.”

“If we organise a visit to the control tower at Cologne/Bonn airport, for example, the maximum number of visitors allowed in a group is just five,” he adds. “It is difficult for a teacher to promote such a trip, knowing that out of a class of say thirty pupils, twenty-five will have to stay in the classroom.”

The RAFT team’s approach to this problem was to establish a structure for each visit in which all the pupils had precisely-defined roles. Some members of the field team were assigned roles as data gatherers for example; their task was to take measurements and audio or video recordings at the site of the visit, in some cases as directed live by members of the base team back in the classroom. Other field group members would be reporters – their task was to interview the people conducting the visit and obtain answers to key questions, again in some cases as directed live by the team back at base.

Each visit would be prepared beforehand by the base team in the classroom, which would define the tasks to be carried out, the data to be gathered and the questions to be answered, who would then monitor the field team in action via live audio and video links. These base team members also had tightly-defined roles, visit director for example, or team researcher.

The technology underpinning this team structure was deliberately kept as simple as possible for the classroom end of the link, says Specht. “It’s no good planning an elaborate technical infrastructure when the school involved might have only a single DSL line,” he says. “Full video conferencing is impractical in such situations. So we designed the RAFT tools to be totally Web-based at the classroom end, and accessible via a normal Web browser.”

In practice, he notes, for trips to locations within German cities the field team could often rely on the resources of a full wireless LAN for communications. When they were out in the wilds, he says, then they typically used 3G phones for audio and video communication.

The data being fed back to the classroom could be fully annotated by members of the field team, says Specht, and these annotations were stored along with all the other data recorded during a visit. In fact a key concern for the RAFT team was to facilitate the re-use of field trip data by subsequent pupil groups, perhaps the next group of pupils in the following year. They therefore developed a management system to provide archiving facilities and easy access to the stored field data, either for classes or individual students.

RAFT finishes in 2005, and the participants are already discussing with national schools or teaching associations the possibilities of listing the RAFT set of tools on their respective Web portals. They are also planning a major end-of-project event, “probably in a circus marquee either in Cologne or Bonn” says Specht, to which they will invite schools representatives and the educational media, for discussions on how to facilitate training in the use of RAFT tools.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Studying outdoors is better
06.02.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Classroom in Stuttgart with Li-Fi of Fraunhofer HHI opened
03.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>