GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 66-10
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


TEWKSBURY, David A., Department of Geosciences, Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Rd, Clinton, NY 13323-1218 and TEWKSBURY, Barbara J., Dept of Geosciences, Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Rd., Clinton, NY 13323-1218,

A tremendous amount has been written about digital mapping technology, the advantages and challenges of using a variety of hardware platforms and software packages/apps to teach geologic mapping, and strategies for designing effective field mapping training for students using digital technologies. Much less has been written about successful strategies for integrating digital technology into shorter field trip experiences not focused on teaching geologic mapping skills. Short field trips are typically associated with specific courses and range in length from a few hours to a few days. Mapping is typically not the focus, and many field trips are run largely as outdoor lectures. Effective teaching on short field trips, however, requires that students are as actively engaged in making their own observations, collecting field data, and making evidence-based interpretations as they would be if they were engaged in geologic mapping. We have begun to use Collector to support active student engagement in the field and to connect two department-wide initiatives, one to integrate ArcGIS in multiple courses and the other to build students’ personal experience with informed decision-making across the geology curriculum.

Why Collector? ArcGIS Collector is free and runs on devices that most students already own, namely smart phones with Android, iOS, or Windows operating systems. Smart phones also have the advantage of integrated GPS, which not all tablets have. In the field, students collect data in a Collector geodatabase that captures both text and photos. The instructor (and/or students) creates the geodatabase ahead of time in ArcGIS Desktop and publishes it to an ArcGIS Online account. Students download the geodatabase to their devices before going into the field. Although Collector works in conjunction with an ArcGIS Online account, devices do not need to be online in the field.

Using Collector is an outstanding way to actively engage students both in the field and in the classroom. After a field trip, the accumulated data can be viewed via ArcGIS Online and downloaded for use in ArcGIS Desktop. Field observations, photos, and movies are collected in an organized, systematic, and similar way by all students, making it easier to do field trip follow-up, discussion, and preparation for subsequent field trips.