I think one of the things about making fieldwork inclusive is to offer different ways of accessing the content.
You could explore a hybrid delivery where students can choose to either see something physically or they can choose to engage with something remotely. This is something we should perhaps be working towards. Multiple means of access results in multiple means of engagement.
The benefit of this model is that everyone can benefit. For example, you can make the virtual information available ahead of a trip which allows students to get their head around information or help them in their fieldtrip preparations. The student can visit the virtual site as many times as they like, whenever they like, and not be in people’s way and so this helps students to build confidence. There is also a lot of drone footage around now and you can get people quite excited by seeing places that they are never going to access, even those who are physically able. However, not all virtual alternatives are accessible to everyone, so you do need to be aware of that with your cohorts. Students can struggle in a virtual world too.
I think this has been a positive outcome of the pandemic, it has forced us to change our fieldwork practices as things had to go more online. We have seen a big improvement in the quality and diversity of online field experiences. I think it has made people appreciate how much more inclusive online experiences can make fieldwork. For a long time, we have had students struggle to engage with the physical aspects of fieldwork and they have been looking at virtual/online fieldwork as offering them an alternative option. With the rapid move to online suddenly it has opened this whole new way of engaging students who have been crying out for these alternatives. It has made things more inclusive to everyone, not just for a select group of students. Going forward, we need to recognise these are opportunities and a great way of making fieldwork more inclusive to everyone.