How can we encourage online students to engage with the world? A few Ecampus instructors have found a great way to get their students to go out in their communities, observe, and report back information to the class. How? Field notes.
What is a field note? Field notes can contain a variety of information but typically field notes are written out in the field or immediately after stopping the experience. They contain detailed observations including the dates, times, sights, sounds, smells, weather conditions, who was with you, feelings, drawings, questions that have risen from the experience as well as any other observations.
How did they do it? Lets dive into two different class examples.
Bruce Shindler, a forestry professor here at Oregon State University teaches a course about Managing at the Wildlife-Urban Interface. Students watch videos from the field and take notes on what they see/hear and begin to answer questions about what they would do, what they think should be done, and what is currently done to manage the Wildlife-Urban Interface. These experiences are done online, but the field notes from the videos are a great way to have students pay a great deal of attention to the video rather than only listening.
Stephanie Jenkins, a philosophy professor here at Oregon State University teaches a course that requires students to experience a Phish concert either in person or via a live webcast. Students are required to take field notes for the concerts either while watching online or immediately after a live, in person concert. Data can include any of the above mentioned items and students are then asked to identify a theme, idea, event, or improvisation that they saw in the concert and found interesting and use that in a written response. In that response, they are to incorporate the readings from the class and the field notes from their experience.
As you can see, these are two different classes in two different fields that both used the concept of field notes in their courses. You too can choose the idea of field notes and bring it into your course. A little bit of innovation and the willingness to try something new is all it takes.
Enjoy and have fun!