27 October 2020

TRAVELER JOINS THE WORLD TOUR

The second test for Traveler came during a very different kind of field study, one that took 24 upperlevel and graduate students to 25 countries and 60 cities over a three-month period. The field study, called World Tour, is an intensive and fast-paced study of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. The diversity, complexity, and logistical limitations of some sites and locations and the trip’s duration encouraged us to spend significant time and effort to prep these students to use Traveler. Parker met with the students on several occasions before World Tour to explain the features and capabilities of the app and showed them 51 how to use it flexibly. For example, we knew there would not be reliable WiFi in several locations, so this required the students to save and load maps ahead of time.

The training sessions were also meant to address the infrequency of reflective use we observed in the Chicago trip by helping the students see how the tablet and app could be used to review and evaluate their experiences to better aid in their projects and coursework. Beyond preparing students to make more consistent and flexible use of Traveler during the field study, these preliminary training sessions focused on how the app and tablet might integrate with their tourist and academic activities during their time abroad. Students wanted to explore other apps and how to connect to peripheral devices to contribute to their ability to use the tablets for their coursework. They wanted to see how to integrate this with their other photography of the locations on the trip. Essentially, they wanted to know if they were going to be using the tablet anyway, did they need to take along a laptop too?

How could the tablet serve as a functional alternative? Questions like these are of course going to come up and present additional challenges to introducing mobilebased curricula in classroom situations. They inform the continued development and polishing of our app and help us understand the flexibility of the app’s possible use across disciplines. As with the Chicago trip, Parker came along to help, joining the group for the first two weeks of the tour, testing and improving the app based on observational and experiential student use and feedback. The learning curve experienced by both instructors and students was facilitated well by this inclusion. Traveling with the group fostered collaborative discussions and sharing of ideas, leading to a better understanding of what Traveler and the meant for the field studies.

We hadn’t really planned it this way, but in reflection, those in-the-moment reactions and evaluations were critical in shaping how the app continued to evolve from its initial test with the Chicago tour and how we imagined positioning the app for future trips. The ability of Traveler to work across different devices, including smartphones and Android-enabled cameras turned out to be really useful and points the way forward.

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