Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Environmental and Forest Biology

Thesis Advisor

Elizabeth Folta

Abstract

While the impact and use of technology in our everyday lives are significantly increasing, the impact of nature is in great decline. Society has become more interested in staying connected via smartphones and computers and less comfortable with or fascinated by the outdoors. This declining attention to the outdoors has led to a large disconnect between society nature and numerous human actions that threaten the wellbeing of our environment. These trends suggest a potential role technology can play in interpretive efforts to reestablish society’s connection with nature. To assess this possibility, a digital trail guide was constructed using a preexisting paper booklet created for self-guided interpretive walks along the Sucker Brook Trail at the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb, NY. The goal of developing this digital guide was to compare its effectiveness and reception by visitors with that of the traditional paper booklet. Assessment of visitor experiences and attitudes were to be measured using post-experiences surveys of either form of the walk. The lack of wireless internet and cell phone service along AIC’s trails presented initial challenges in the development of the digital guide. The unforeseen challenge of inconsistent compatibilities of PDF Portfolios on computers and handheld devices delayed implementation of the digital trial booklet and the associated data collection. Despite this, this research project has important implications in interpretive product design and raises an interesting aspect in the debate among interpreters regarding the role technology should play in these fields. Further research and development of the digital trail guide will be essential in completion of this research project.

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