Solutions for teachers with student privacy concerns?


Thank you in advance for any insight you can share.

We’re speaking with a US high school teacher about using iNaturalist in her classroom, but the school district has concerns about students creating accounts. Can anyone recommend a great work around? Have you asked students to make anonymous accounts or created accounts for the students to use?



Do you have any clarity on what the concerns are? It may help answer.

Accounts are not required to use or display their real name, and I believe the email address used to validate the account is not visible on the site.


Since children under 13 aren’t supposed to create accounts on iNaturalist, a good alternative is the Seek app, which doesn’t post observations publicly. You can find more information about it in the teacher’s guide:’s+guide

Edit: sorry didn’t see the “high school” part. Seek is still a good alternative for privacy concerns.


Post indicates it is for high school students, I assume that means they are over 13?


Most students get anonymous user ids, you can look up earlier projects.

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One thing I would strongly recommend against and in fact it is against the terms of use. Do not create a single account for the students to share. The prevalence rate of at least 1 student who is shall we say not impressed with the assignment and adds joke/fake/malicious content is very high.

That one student can cause a giant mess in a shared account.


Thanks for the warning, we will avoid this route.

Great suggestion, I don’t think the seek app will work for our research goals, but it is a super cool tool to introduce in another objective. Thanks!

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Thanks @cmcheatle

As I understand, the district is mostly concerned with geoprivacy, even though there are opt-out options. Maybe cyberbulling? I am not sure exactly.

Good to know the email address is not visible. Thanks

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I don’t think you have to worry too much about geoprivacy, per se. A cluster of observations around a house just means “a person who uses INaturalist lives in this house”. As long as the online username is disconnected from the person’s real name, there’s no way for someone to figure out who in the house uses the app.
There’s also an ability to make observations that don’t have a completely precise location. They would show only “this user makes a lot of posts in this approximate neighborhood”.



  • are the students expected to do their work on school premises, at some other location, or a combination of the two?
  • are the students provided the necessary equipment (phones, computers, cameras, internet connection), or do they have to bring their own?
  • are all students expected to the same thing, or can provisions be made for students who might not be able to participate in the core assignment? for example, if a parent doesn’t like the idea of their child loading a strange app on their phone to go observing, then can the instead be tasked with an alternative task like identifying?

Just for clarity, it is not visible on the website version nor the Android app. I have no reason to believe it would be visible on the iOS app, but dont have access to such a device to confirm.

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In a project the location can be hidden except to curators, so only the teacher would see the location. Is that what you are looking for?

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You can create accounts for the users without a name or description, thereby removing any way for them to be cyberbullied, except if they start commenting on observations.


I’m a 16 years old student that use iNat independently, not from school.
Cyberbullying in iNat is rare in my experience, i never experienced one.
Even when i wrongly identified some observations, the experts politely corrected me and even answer my question.
About privacy, you can obscured the location of your observation, i used it alot, especially when i’m observing near my place

And for a record, sometimes i get upset if some amateur wrongly identified my observation, or made the observation back to “Needs ID”
And sometimes i get jealous if someone got a better observation than me
I’m not acting rude though, i always soothe myself out of the emotion

That showed that people of my age seem can’t control their emotion, i think the teacher should told their students to control themselves and not acting rude in internet


I recently used the iNat program in a botany lesson in elementary school; the pupil does not have to create an account to effectively use the portal for educational purposes, everything is available from the search level for free without logging in …