The Fieldtrip GB team have been out and about talking to users of the app and we have had some useful feedback on what users would like to see in the app. One of the comments that appeared more than once was that it would be good to be able to annotate photos. We agree, but there are several other things that we have scheduled as higher priorities.
This got me thinking. There are apps out there that allow users to annotate photos and screen captures, so which one is best and how could FtGB users integrate it into their workflow? I was lucky enough to see a presentation by Derek France from the University of Chester and one of the apps that he demo’d was Skitch. Skitch is an app made by the same people that do Evernote. Skitch allows users to sketch something new, mark-up maps, screen captures, or even a photo. So you would be able to:
- make a new sketch
- screen capture a map then add notes/annotations to it
- annotate or add notes to a photograph.
So how would you integrate this into the FtGB workflow? Well, because Skitch is not “part” of FtGB you would have to launch it and run FtGB as a background programme. Lets walk through it in steps as if we were in the field.
- We are at a site we want to survey.
- start Skitch
- take a photo
- add sketch/notes
- back to FtGB
- create point
- attach photo from Gallery
- navigate to the skitch folder (in android you should ensure that Skitch is in your My Gallery)
Photo Annotated in Skitch
Pretty simple, as long as you have the Skitch folder checked so that it appears in your My Gallery.
What if you wanted to annotate a map from Fieldtrip GB. This is possible, it just requires you to screen capture the map. There is usually a way to do this by pressing a couple of buttons at the same time, much like a special move on a Nintendo (editors note – my phone wont do screen capture in FtGB).
- Take a screengrab with FtGB running (process varies between handsets)
- Open saved screengrab in Skitch
- Annotate the screen grab
- Save annotation
- Back to FtGB
- Attach annotated screen capture to a point
Screen Map Capture annotated in Skitch
Hopefully the steps described above will allow you to add annotated pictures, maps and sketches to Fieldtrip GB. There are undoubtedly other annotation apps out there that would integrate in a similar way, we just chose Skitch as it was free, easy to use and seemed to to exactly what we wanted.
Mobilise the Crowd
One use of Fieldtrip GB is to get groups of students collecting data over a wide area and then collate this into a master dataset. Kind of like crowd-sourcing but with an “informed crowd” collection specific information. But, how would you best go about doing this using the current app?
At the moment the best thing to do is to create a master form and get the group to collect data against that. The process of what you would need to do is set out below:
- Set up a “group” Dropbox account (just a regular account, but one that you are happy to share the username/password of with the group)
- Log into the Authoring Tool with the group Dropbox account and create your data collection form and save it. It will be saved to the group Dropbox account..
- Get the group to log in to the group Dropbox account from their phones and sync to retrieve the form
- Get the group to collect data against the form
- When they have finished collecting their data, get the group to log in to the group Dropbox account from their phones and perform another sync. This will upload the data they have just collected to the group Dropbox account
- The leader/tutor can then log in to group Dropbox account through the Authoring Tool.
- Use the filter menu to display all the data collected against the form that the group used.
- Export the data – this will create 1 file that contains all the data collected by the group (Note – we are working to improve the KML export and hope to add CSV as an output option)
So, that process is not too onerous. Fieldtrip GB is a great way to get multiple people collecting consistent information and helps you to mobilise a crowd. Why not give it a go with your students or organisation and let us know how you get on.