Are you interested in biological recording & monitoring with your students? By Dr Alice Mauchline

KS logo small scaleThe University of Reading now has ‘KiteSite’ – a free, bespoke mobile app for biodiversity recording on the Whiteknights campus. KiteSite has been designed as a generic tool to support field training in biodiversity and taxonomy at the University and it can be used in any module for field data collection. There is a supporting website available at:www.reading.ac.uk/herbarium/kitesite

KiteSite was developed in 2014 by a multidisciplinary team of undergraduates and staff with funding from the University’s Teaching and Learning Development Fund. It is available for Android devices from the Play Store and the iOS version is available through the host app EpiCollect. Full instructions on how to download and use the app are available on the project website along with links to online identification guides and ideas of how to use KiteSite to support teaching activities.

Features

IMG_0122 (640x480)KiteSite automatically records time, date and geolocation data; meaning that the first piece of data captured is a photograph of the specimen. The subsequent data headings can be filled in to the level of knowledge known about the organism (Organism group, Common name, Species name). They can be completed with all known information if the recorder has some idea of the identity of the organism or left blank if the organism can’t be identified. A confidence rating is asked for at the end of the data sheet which can be used for confirmation of correct identification. A notes section has also been included to provide a space to record any further information about the sighting.

Two sections of the data form have been customised to allow for groups to add their ‘Project Code’ and for individual recorders to identify themselves with a unique ‘User code’ (e.g. their student number). This allows for easy data extraction from a single teaching excursion and for students to submit their own data for assessment.

Data storage

IMG_0111 (800x600)The data are stored in a central database which is publically available and constantly updated. These data can be used in a multitude of ways to support teaching & learning; for example, they can be analysed to ensure that the students made correct species identifications; time series data can be examined for temporal patterns; spatial data can reveal species movements across campus; phenology data can be examined etc.

As the database grows, these data will become a valuable record of campus biodiversity. The records will supplement the activities of the Whiteknights Biodiversity Blog which collates records of all organisms found living on campus.

Mobile devices available

Several field-ready mobile devices (10 iPad minis and 4 Google Nexus 7s) are available to borrow to support the use of this app in fieldwork teaching. Please get in touch if you would like to borrow these devices or if you’d like to discuss ways to integrate the use of this app and the database in your teaching. I would also be very interested to hear via email (a.l.mauchline@reading.ac.uk), Twitter @UniRdg_KiteSite or via the Whiteknights Biodiversity Blog of your experiences of using KiteSite in teaching & learning activities on campus.

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