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Working in STEM subjects, the field and laboratories

Different types of STEM/ practical settings where technology has been used to provide alternatives.
GRAEME EARL: So I’m a professor of digital humanities, but my area of main expertise is archaeology. And when you talk about archaeology, what you think about is being outside– hopefully in the sunshine– being outside getting muddy, clambering over things, pushing wheelbarrows, digging up things, and touching them. And those are all true. Those are all aspects of what archaeology can be. But I think it’s essential that we provide access to that learning environment, and access to those physical ways of learning, or analogous ways of learning, to everybody that we can. So one way that we’ve tried this in the past, in collaboration with people from the National Oceanography Centre, and geology for example, is by making online versions of microscopes.
Or online versions of excavated sections. So portions of the trench that we might want people to be able to zoom in and out of. We can’t necessarily send artefacts to people. And we can’t necessarily invite them to come and excavate on our sites for various reasons. But what we can do is present opportunities for them to do analogous activities. So one example is that the excavation I work on in Portus, we’re very interested in the multisensory experience. And so one of the things we’ve tried is presenting our learners with a shopping list. So go and buy a handful of things that together create the olfactory sense– the smell, literally, of the place we are working.
Or we might say, sit where you are in your doing this course, apply an archaeological technique that you would normally do in the dust in Egypt, but do it right where you are sat surrounded by your everyday objects. And so people have the chance to be physically engaged, and have a chance to do things where they are. And yet at the same time, enacting the kinds of processes that archaeologists might think have to only be done outside, in the wind, or rain, or the sunshine.
Professor Graeme Earl talks about archaeology and the need to provide alternatives to the physical ways of working by making online versions of tools and settings in the field and gives an example of his Portus Project online tours.
Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome is a course which is also available on FutureLearn.
Virtual reality is now a consumer technology, available on mobile devices and games platforms. In a TED talk Michael Bodekaer talks about the potential impact of using virtual laboratory simulations.
While other tools such as the University of Leeds ‘Virtual Landscapes’ demonstrates how students can experience landscapes without physically visiting locations. These landscapes work with the Unity web player which is no longer supported, but should still work with most browsers).
RNIB Tactile map support plus a variety of methods for making science accessible have been developed by experts in visual impairments with examples from the Perkins elearning resources and a series of tactile astronomy images developed to celebrate the Hubble telescope 22nd year.
You may also be interested in other related resources which can be accessed from the ‘See also’ section at the bottom of this page.
© This work is created by the University of Southampton and licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.
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