Educator Category?

When we first moved over to Discourse for this forum, I thought it’d be good to have a category for educators to talk about using iNat/Seek with students, and share ideas, issues, curricula, etc. But Discourse recommends you start out with just a few categories and add new ones if needed. I’ve tried to start a few discussions about using iNat with students in General, but they seem to get lost.

Distance learning looks like it’s going to be sticking around for a while, and iNat/Seek are often suggested as something to be used for these situations, so I think it would be really helpful to have a separate category for using iNat in education. I know some uses of iNat with students has been controversial in the past, but I think that partly stems from there not being a good, centralized set of resources for educators, and this would be one way to remedy that.

What do you think, and what might be some good topics to seed the category with if we go forward with it?


I think it would be a good idea, as a place to discuss both the positives and negatives of using iNat as an educational tool, and as a place to share/develop lesson plans and ideas.


I think it would be a good idea. I think maybe it should have a streamlined version of some of the wikis (etiquette, IDing, etc). The streamlined versions could be pared down (and maybe locked?) so as not to overwhelm new users, pinned to the top of the new category, and have links back to the full discussions in case they decide to stick around and become active forum/community members.

So I guess that’s my seeding suggestion.


A topic I would be interested in hearing more about is how others have used exported observations in the classroom. Last year, I had my university students download observations and perform a simple analysis in ArcGIS Pro. Given that it was their first time using the software, many of them needed a bit of help along the way, so I don’t think this is a lab I could do remotely. I would be interested to hear if others have been successful in teaching a remote lab session that uses exported observations.


If you’re aiming at encouraging use by elementary & high school teachers, I’d suggest having a good and thorough post explaining different ways of using the website and the apps and explain what information is shared.

As many schools in Canada shifted to online delivery, there’s been a lot of hard looks at how using apps and social media platforms impacts students’ privacy and security (e.g.Schools urged to ensure students’ security and privacy when conducting classes online”, CBC News, 2020-06-05) and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada reported in 2017 that it’s “Sweep of educational apps finds some fall short on privacy”. Even the teaching profession itself (the BCTF in my home province) has highlighted privacy concerns associated with the use of online apps.

I’ve found that iNat isn’t the clearest about privacy and what information is collected. There’s some major risks around that especially with information being tagged with both precise locations and exact times. If I were a teacher, I’d worry about my students essentially posting their home address online if they were to post observations from their homes or their yards. With the horrible stuff that happens around doxxing and harassment online, that could be a big risk.

And since few teachers are experts in privacy and security, it would make sense to have a FAQ/Tutorial which explains how to allow students to engage in a safe and secure manner. Maybe walk through the different ways that a classroom of students could use iNat. Explain if and how a class group account might be used. What information is collected and how that can be limited if required to comply with local laws. Given that teachers are often overworked, it probably helps to have a PDF handout for parents that explains what the site is, how it’s used, and what information is collected.

As part of that, it might be helpful to suggest specific projects that a class could do which limit privacy and security risks, e.g. Class group observations of a nearby nature area or a city park, etc


All sounds good - and the school classroom is one of the intended uses of Seek, right?'s+guide


It’s less about encouraging or discouraging educators to use iNat, because many have used it already an many will use it in the future. It’s really abotu providing resources for them to know when and how to use it.

FWIW we have a teacher’s guide here:’s+guide It goes over best practices and legal issues, and is available in the “More” menu in the website.


OK, I’ve added an Educators category here: I haven’t yet seeded it with some of the ettitquette suggestions that @star3 had, but if anyone wants to work on one I can pin it when it’s ready.