Remote Fieldwork or: How to Teach Field Skills Virtually When Everything That Can Go Wrong, Does
Archaeology and Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, The University of Western Australia
Dr Sven Ouzman, Archaeology and Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, The University of Western Australia
The professionalization of Australian archaeology has seen an increasing demand for graduates with demonstrated competencies across a range of professional skills, including field skills such as survey, excavation, and recording of archaeological sites and artefacts. Hands-on training is recognised by both students and professional archaeologists as critical for skills development, and field schools are required components of most undergraduate archaeological qualifications, typically targeted at upper-level (i.e. third year) undergraduate students.
But what happens when these field schools suddenly and unexpectedly can’t be taught in an on-site setting? In early 2020, an unfolding pandemic forced a reckoning with the traditional face-to-face model of teaching field skills employed by many universities including UWA, where 22 students enrolled in ‘ARCY3003 – Archaeological Field Skills’ were no longer able to meet in person to organise or undertake a planned field school. Drawing on previous experiences delivering field skills training via a flipped classroom model, the unit coordinator and instructor redesigned the course to focus on virtual training and skills acquisition, in order to prepare the students for fieldwork at a later date. This interactive poster provides an overview of this approach and measures student outcomes against previous field schools, demonstrating the value and potential of the Australian Archaeology Skills Passport, digital ‘classrooms’, and flipped classroom models for teaching archaeology in a way that is accessible, engaging, and adaptable.