Two Plymouth Marjon University students are travelling to Slovenia to speak at the European Outdoor Education Conference on the subject of augmented reality uses with autistic young people.
Abigail Gurr, 26, and Stuart Watson, 31, have bridged the divide between two Marjon degree programmes to come together and present ideas to a group of Outdoor Education experts at the conference which takes place in late September.
Together, they’ve been working to analyse current theories around the use of technology to support autistic people in the outdoor education setting. The pair have then specifically spent time looking at how new augmented reality technology could be implemented to enhance the outdoor education experience through the use of graphical overlays in smart glasses.
Abigail said: “It’s really rare to have two people so fresh out of university presenting at a conference like this but we have worked hard to come up with some new ideas and we’re keen to get some feedback from experts about our thoughts.
“Technology can be quite a controversial subject in the outdoor education setting so we’re interested to hear people’s views because we very much believe technology should be used to enhance the experience, and not take over it.”
The pair are at the cutting edge of the debate around the use of augmented technology in outdoor education; with very little research available on the topic. Some current studies show how smart glasses can be used to aid the classroom experience for young autistic people but its use in an outdoor environment is still very much new ground.
“We’re looking at taking that technology from an indoor setting to the wider world for neurodiverse people,” said Abigail, who now works as an Institutional Outreach Officer at Marjon.
“Maybe the technology isn’t quite there yet, but it will get there and we’re trying to encourage the outdoor education sector to embrace it rather than avoid it.”
The conference takes place in Bohinj, Slovenia, and Abigail and Stuart will be presenting for 20 minutes before taking comments from the audience.
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