Students will be uploading pictures


I am going to have a group of about 60 students doing a campus crawl on Friday and they will be uploading pictures from our campus. My hopes is that we can identify some of the common organisms found on our campus then come back next class meeting and see if any are invasive species. I am going to have them work in groups of 2-3 to limit the numbers of organisms posted.
Can anyone see a problem in doing this activity? I want to make sure that it is within the rules to have several kids posting from the same common area.



Sounds like a good project! I don’t see any issues with people posting from the same area, as long as they’re each taking their own photos of whatever they see.

A couple of tips to avoid hitting others’ pet peeves - remind them that anything that looks like it was deliberately planted should have the “cultivated” box checked, and if they don’t have any idea what something is, a broad ID like “plants” is very helpful for putting it into the right category for us plant nerds to find it.




Other tips:

ask them not to “agree” with each other’s ids (I know some may have lots of knowledge but we have had problems with students agreeing with each other to get better grades. So if they want to do id help on inat they should help someone else)

Please spend the time going through their observations and at least make sure they are appropriate.

Tell them not to add each other and especially not to tag each other as weird animals or whatever (makes bad data). We’ve all seen “funny” students do this stuff a thousand times and it’s not funny any more.

As greysquirrel said please have them mark planted stuff as such.



Quite a good way to get the younger people interested in wildlife. I agree with the words of caution above, I might even go one step further and say omit any observations of potted/cultivated plants, and (if possible), try to make sure each student has a unique batch of observations (though this can be quite tricky). I would also suggest the students to try their best and take good quality photos (one that can highlight the features of the organism vs. a far away blurry shot).



Please create a project for it. That will help identifiers who want to assist your project find the observations, and it will help anyone who wants to give you feedback (if you are listed as the owner of the project). A simple Collection project that covers your campus should be fine.



@bethbowers in case you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Teacher’s Guide, too.



I agree with the other comments and have two other suggestions:

  1. The students observations will be more useful if they try to take pictures of different individual organisms. When students go around in a group and take pictures of the same individuals, it is less gratifying for iders but also doesn’t generate as much data for students (if they have 60 observations of only 20 individuals, for instance).
  2. It is often really useful to have multiple pics of the same individual organism showing different aspects of it. It’s worth the time to show students how to add multiple pics to one observation to get these (and avoid having several pics of the same individual scattered over multiple observations).

I hope it goes great!



encourage them to revisit their observations in a day or two, and if there are any questions or suggestions from the community, to consider and respond accordingly. As the “mentor” on this, it would be good if you can review them on the same basis…

I think cultivated plants are fine, but do mark them as such…

Hope it goes well for your group!



if your campus doesn’t already have a “place” defined in iNaturalist, you should probably create one.

before your campus crawl, i would look to see what others have already recorded on your campus. (here’s an example from the University of Houston where it looks to me like students have recently started to record some observations, maybe for a class: make sure you uncheck the verifiable filter in your query to get back cultivated organisms.)

you can look at the existing observations on your campus to see what others have observed and which kinds of observations get identified. if you make observations of a vertebrate, chances are it will get identified by the community fairly quickly. common insects and spiders will have a good chance of getting identified by the community if the photo is good enough, though often you won’t be able to get to species level. (don’t worry if you can’t get to species, since some things can’t easily be identified to that level based on photos.) trees without closeup of leaves and flowers without leaves are often difficult to identify to a low level, too.

before you have everyone go out on their own, i would probably make sure they’re recording their locations accurately. you could have everyone check the position of, say, a well-known tree on campus and make sure they’re picking up the location correctly.

if you’re having the students go out in groups of 2-3, you might ask them to specialize. for example, one person might make observations of plants, while a second makes observations of insects on or around those plants, and maybe a third can verify locations, make identifications, mark non-wild organisms as such, and add annotations and observation fields as they go along.

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The suggestions all look great. In addition, I’d also warn them specifically not to use the suggested ID, and instead add as much info as they know about an organism: is it a plant, animal or fungus, if it’s a plant, is it a flowering plant or a moss, or a fern, etc…

The suggested ID is not very useful and makes a lot of mistakes, whereas if something is marked at a low level but correctly, people will chime in with IDs fairly quickly.

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The suggested id algorithm works pretty well for some taxa and some places but the community ID is better since the suggested id algorithm is fed by community ID so doesn’t really know any more than we do :)

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Hi @charlie, it might be my part of the works, but I can tell you I seem to be forever correcting plant IDs from people that tried to use it. It seems to me to be particularly bad at IDing photos of garden flowers, which are likely to feature a fair bit here.



Yeah it isn’t trained on cultivated species. Or at least wasn’t last I heard. Which is too bad because newbies tend to go for those.

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