[music] Ireland has long been a favorite
location to teach and learn field geology skills. Yet with the combination
of bogs and mountains, jagged coastlines and rainy weather, the captivating
landscape presents challenges for geology students with mobility
impairments. We are traveling with a group of 12 students of diverse physical
ability to explore the potential of accessible field learning in locations
commonly used for geology field exercises. [Dr Atchison] “We’re here just looking at what the community of learning looks like as you focus on inclusion. The community, the collaboration, the communication. That is the essence of our project here.” Our first field exercise took place at
the cliffs of Kilkee, where students had a chance to practice data collection with
digital field notebooks. [Dr. Crompton] “They’re documenting using technology instead of a notepad that can
get wet. They’re using technology to take photographs, audio, sketches, and all sorts of things to document where they are.” The next morning, students shared and discussed what they found with the group. [group chatter] Student: “…this was our interpretation…” Back on the road we
head north along the Wild Atlantic Way to the town of Clifton. Our introduction
to the geology of the area is a behind-the-scenes tour of the quarry
that produces Ireland’s famous green Connemara marble. [group chatter] [Quarry worker] “Nobody’s ever seen this before. So you never know what you’re going to get, and we try and get full cores if we can. But due to the rocks, these cracks are in it, and you just put up with what you get.” At the quarry we meet Dr. Martin Feely, who has studied the geology of the connemara region for 40 years. After the quarry visit, Dr. Feely introduces the students to the area
where they will be conducting geologic mapping exercises in the days ahead. [Dr. Feely] “The
area that we chose along the old railway track was an ideal location,
one that we use every year. And here we were able to use the railroad, the old
rock canyons that were cut out and to inspect and for all of the students
mobile and less mobile to come along and put their hands on the outcrop. Able to
use technology that I’ve just seen for the first time in the field really at
such a general level, dealing with the iPads measuring dip and strike, taking
photographs, communicating between each other’s groups by the lake shore, groups
on the road all working in unison. Very very good indeed. This connection between
team members is made possible through the use of a portable wireless network,
which allows devices within the field site to stay connected to each other
even where internet access is not available. [Dr. Collins] “Today we’re using a local wireless network
to connect up students that are spread across this site. So on the local network
we’ve got video streaming in between the iPads,
we’ve got photographs that can be shared and we’re using walkie-talkies to keep
people in audio. And that duplication of technology makes us a little bit more
resilient for any failures within any one of those tools. While the road
provided full access to some outcrops, the combination of rock and bog made the
rest of the field site far less accessible. [Student] yeah look at this. If I step here…[squishing sound] This is where mixed ability groupings really shine. [Students] “If the sheep can do it so can I!” “That’s what I’m thinking!” Through the use of wearable cameras and
tablets, these students share their experiences with their teammates back on
the road with a first-person vantage point that illustrates the highs… …and lows… [student falling] Ow! of fieldwork in this challenging terrain. [student laughing] [Student] “It’s all good! Man, they’re really
gonna love my camera! Guiding the students through this unique landscape were Doctors Eric Pyle and Steve Whitmeyer; who bring their students to this field site
every year. [Dr. Atchison] The students have essentially become experts of their own field site and tonight they’ll go back and they’ll actually complete a map with the data from both sites.” [Dr. Crompton] So you can see the technology is extending what they could possibly do
if they didn’t have technology. We’re enabling them to do things; be professional
geologists to the utmost level with technology. Our last field location put the idea of access through technology to the ultimate test and required a unique approach to fieldwork. Renvyle Beach is
located along the glaciated coastline of County Galway. With no accessible route
to the outcrop and windy conditions, the less mobile students would have to stay
inside the vans for communication to work effectively, and their only means to
conduct fieldwork would be through the remote link with their teammates. [voice on radio] …larger boulders at the bottom, followed by thinning and silty material in the middle and then back to larger. Are you seeing that?” [Student] …that makes sense too because as the glacier retreated, there was all the fluvial activity from the outwash plain.” [radio chatter] Through the use of streaming video and photo sharing, teams were able to work
together in real time to study the geology of a location that would have
traditionally excluded participation for students with mobility limitations. [Dr. Atchison] There’s a lot of different things that
come out of this, but essentially it’s the communication piece that’s most
important. It’s the social aspect where the learning takes place. And it’s
finding a location where students can participate at the level of their
abilities, and that’s what we’ve been able to accomplish here. [music]

The IAGD in Ireland: Exploring Approaches to Inclusive Field Geology
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