Using mobile technology to engage students in inquiry-based learning

Prof. Chris Buddle, who teaches ENVB 222: St Lawrence Ecosystems, is undertaking a change in his course teaching strategies as part of his focus on helping students to develop an understanding of research.  One of the critical learning activities is a field trip early in their first term. 



This exercise, highlighted in the Documentary Series: Sowing the seeds of inquiry, focuses on analyzing diversity within a particular area of the forest floor.  The students work in teams and make observations; they note their observations on paper and refer to these for subsequent work. This inquiry approach has been limited by the inability to communicate and collaborate while in the field.  To explore the potential of mobile technology, Prof. Buddle will be integrating tablets into the field experience. Each student received a tablet computer* (Android system) for the three weeks of the field component. As well, each team received a mobile hub to enable Internet access while in the field (the Morgan Arboretum).

According to the 2012 ECAR survey, mobile technology in general, including tablets, is the aspect of information technology that students are most interested in.  This project will allow a focused view of the impact of a communication enabled tablet on both the students’ learning experience and the instructor’s planning and instructional processes

*Toshiba Canada has been an active partner from the inception of this project and has provided extensive logistical and technical support.  We would like to particularly thank Ginette Dufort of Toshiba Canada for her commitment to creating and exploring innovative educational opportunities.  We would also like to acknowledge the support of Bell Canada for the mobile hubs. The McGill Library and Network and Communication Services have provided equipment loans, technical support and video services.

McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

L'Université McGill est sur un emplacement qui a longtemps servi de lieu de rencontre et d'échange entre les peuples autochtones, y compris les nations Haudenosaunee et Anishinabeg. Nous reconnaissons et remercions les divers peuples autochtones dont les pas ont marqué ce territoire sur lequel les peuples du monde entier se réunissent maintenant.