Ok, so for the third year running, I’ll be helping administer an outreach project, Lizards on the Loose, on iNat (link to last year’s project). The project has been quite successful (1000’s of obs), but, with the new project possibilities coming to iNat in the past year, I’m wondering if there’s a better way to set it up and thought I would ask the community.
The basic project is: Students observe anole lizards in their school environs and communities and upload to iNat. Each school has one account run by a head teacher. Each observation must include one additional piece of info that is the focus of that year’s project. For instance, last year we focused on whether anoles use human-made or natural materials to perch on. To enter this info, I made an observation field for “Anole Perch” with two choices: “Natural” and “Human-made”. This year students will need to designate if observed anoles are perched in sun or shade.
In the past, we’ve run this as “normal” (old school) project that was open. Teachers needed to join the project themselves and filling out the “Anole Perch” observation field was a project requirement. Other rules for the project were: must be in Florida, must have a photo, and must be an anole (in taxon Dactyloidae). I could easily set up this year’s iteration the same.
We do a training in the fall at the start of the project, and a good portion of our teachers are returning so they do well. However, some teachers are new or less tech-savvy or don’t attend the training. Several issues that we have encountered are:
a) Teachers failed to initially join the project.
b) Teachers/students forget to add each observation to the project when uploading.
c) Teachers/students forget to fill out the observation field (Anole Perch, etc.) for their observations, which then do not enter the project.
We manage to sort most out with lots of emails, but we still end up with a portion of schools not successfully adding all the observations that they could have.
So, my question is: Is there a better way to set this project up that would still meet the data requirements that we have, but be easier/have a higher success rate for our schools/teachers/students? Thanks for your suggestions!