BUILDING A VIRTUAL FIELDWORK DATABASE
This session focuses on the development and use of the Virtual Fieldwork Experience (VFE) Database (http://virtualfieldwork.org/A_VFE_Database.html). The database provides a map interface, in which a Google Map features placemarks with VFE abstracts, iconic images of the sites, and links to the VFE materials. A second database interface includes fields that use color-coding for quantitative fields like elevation, average January or July temperatures, and annual precipitation, and icons for qualitative characteristics like bedrock and soil type. The use of color-coding and icons coupled with sortability allows for recognition of similarities and differences in a glance. Thus, one should be able to find, once the database is more fully populated, a site that has ten of twelve characteristics in common with the user’s local environment, and another site that has a different ten common characteristics. This invites exploration and discovery of what differences in landscape, and other apsects of the environment, result from the differences in identified characteristics.
The database is being developed using Google Spreadsheet Mapper, and Google Forms. The VFEs themselves are created using a range of technologies at the discretion of the authors, but the most common platform is Google Earth.
As the database architecture develops and matures, project staff will explore how to manage contributions from educators outside of the project.