Blencathra Field Centre adds 4GEE to its activities, for new ways to learn about the natural world
Operated in partnership with the Lake District National Park Authority, Blencathra Field Centre occupies a dramatic setting on the south west side of Blencathra near Keswick in Cumbria. One of 18 such centres around the country, it’s owned by the Field Studies Council (FSC) – a charity that gives people of all ages the opportunity to discover, explore and understand the natural world.
The FSC constantly seeks to use technology to improve its activities. Before the arrival of 4GEE this was proving challenging. Every year remote FSC centres are visited by hundreds of thousands of students from schools and universities. Without fast broadband to power the smartphones and tablets they bring with them, FSC Blencathra was finding it more difficult to meet student demand.
Tim Foster, Head of the Blencathra Field Centre, says: “Although we had fixed line broadband, our location meant the speeds it offered were too slow for the new virtualised activities we wanted to offer. Every year we host more than 10,000 students and, without fast broadband, we were in danger of losing their interest.”
Our solution and its value
With the use of smartphones and tablets built into the FSC curriculum, the chance for Blencathra Field Centre to pilot 4GEE mobile broadband brought with it a potential solution to the problem. “The FSC has developed a number of apps to make field activities as interesting and engaging as possible,” explains Tim. “We also use Google Maps and other specialist mapping software along with image sharing and data capture tools, which are invaluable for students carrying out fieldwork. With 4GEE they can access all those apps and update their studies at the centre in real time.”
It’s early days for the pilot, but the benefits that 4GEE is bringing to Blencathra Field Centre are already clear. “Now we can offer the connectivity speeds our students have come to expect and make the centre a really fun place to experience everything that nature has to offer,” he concludes. “4GEE has added a new element to learning about the environment creating an extra dimension in our courses.”
Looking to the future, next on the plan is the setup of a 4GEE-powered high-definition webcam to stream live images of the Blencathra countryside to the FSC website, so that visitors from around the world can enjoy the beautiful Lake District scenery.
"Now we can offer the connectivity speeds our students have come to expect and make the centre a really fun place to experience everything that nature has to offer. 4GEE has added a new element to learning about the environment creating an extra dimension in our courses."