Seeing the World through New Eyes: Implementing map-based mobile apps in field trips and research
Faculty Mentor: Ron Harris, Department of Geological Sciences
Mobile apps are a resource that can aid in field trip instruction and enhance students’ learning. Because the specific location of the field trip is often an important element in overall understanding, map-based learning materials can be used to integrate information with the place, providing context for the concepts that will be learned on the field trip. The purpose of this project was twofold. One purpose was to provide professors with information and instructions for using map-based mobile apps to prepare students for, and provide resources during, field trips and study abroad experiences. A second purpose was to implement the apps in a variety of field trip settings. Here we present information on three map-based apps—Esri’s Story Map and Collector for ArcGIS and Midland Valley’s Field Move. We have determined that these apps are particularly effective for use before, during, and after field trips to aid in students’ understanding and integration of concepts.
To determine effective apps, we identified several apps that had the desired geospatial features. We then tested them, including in field trip settings, to assess their effectiveness and identified three apps to focus on. We learned ways to optimize the use of these apps for specific field trip settings by consulting online tutorials, technical support, forums, etc. Finally, we implemented them for use on geology field trips and research trips.
The three apps identified for implementation are Esri’s Story Map and Collector for ArcGIS and Midland Valley’s Field Move. Each app has specific features that suit it for different field trip settings. Following is a brief explanation of each app.
Esri Story Map
The Esri Story Map is a powerful environment for creating approachable, interactive study materials to prepare students for field trips and to help them review and synthesize what they have learned on the trip. Story Map provides a framework for building an interactive map-based tour of the field trip. The tour can include pictures, video, links, and text. It can be hosted on a website, providing an easy way to make the tour available to students for study.
Collector for ArcGIS
Collector for ArcGIS is a free mobile app that works with ArcGIS Online for field data collection. Maps of specific features of interest, such as field trip stops, can be set up beforehand, with notes and instructions for students. Data collection and note-taking forms can be set up with pre-defined fields to guide students’ note-taking. The notes features can be used without cell phone or internet connections, but ultimately must be synced online with ArcGIS Online after the field study. Imagery, terrain, street, and topo basemaps can be downloaded through the app.
Midland Valley Apps
Field Move apps by Midland Valley are designed specifically for geology field work with capability for taking georeferenced notes, photos, and structural measurements. Traditional geologic symbology is shown on the map for all structural measurements. When the device is connected to internet, the apps have access to Openstreet maps, which can be cached for offline use. Additionally, maps can be loaded into the app. All notes, measurements, and drawings can be exported as CSV and KMZ files, which are compatible with Esri ArcGIS and Google Earth.
Based on our research, the Esri Story Map is best suited for preparing students for field trips by providing an interactive, location-integrated way to study the places they will visit. It also provides an interesting way to review the concepts learned on the trip. The Esri Collector for ArcGIS is particularly well designed for field exercises, including data collection, and allows customization appropriate for any class level. Both Collector for ArcGIS and the Midland Valley Field Move apps provide a way for students of any skill level to take georeferenced notes and pictures. The Field Move apps are especially designed for geology field data collection, and as such, can be used for advanced geology field trips and research trips. Data gathered using either the Collector app or the Field Move apps can be used for post-trip synthesis and reports.
There is a wide variety resources available for making interactive field education materials. These tools can help engage students more effectively before, during, and after a field trip so they can prepare for, learn, and review the material for more complete learning experiences. Additionally, the Collector and Field Move apps can be used for real data collection and creating reports. As professors implement tools such as the ones discussed in this paper, they will be able to help students have more applied hands-on learning experiences and take better advantage of field trips and study abroad experiences.
ArcGIS (Version 10.4) [Computer software]. Redlands, CA: ESRI.
Collector for ArcGIS (Versions 10.3.7 and 10.3.9) [Mobile application software]. Redlands, CA: ESRI.
FieldMove (Version 1.2.0) [Mobile application software]. Glasgow, UK: Midland Valley Exploration Ltd.
FieldMove Clino (Version 2.03.03) [Mobile application software]. Glasgow, UK: Midland Valley Exploration Ltd.
Move2016 (Version 2016.1) [Computer Software]. Glasgow, UK: Midland Valley Exploration Ltd.
Story Maps (2016, March) Web app used: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/.
TileMill (Version 0.10.1) [Computer Software]. Washington, DC: Mapbox. https://www.mapbox.com/tilemill/.