Mappt helps UWA students get to grips with geospatial technology

uwa using mappt

We’re helping students become GIS savvy!

Over recent years, the power of geospatial technology has exploded into a variety of businesses and organisations. GIS tools are no longer mind-boggling pieces of equipment that only those in the mining, emergency and environmental sectors understand. Nowadays various industries from fitness to farming are realising how geospatial information can benefit their business, with some companies unable to survive without it.

Because of this shift we can expect the next generation to encounter geospatial technology at some stage or throughout their careers. Introducing them to location-based technology during their educational years is ideal preparation, and one lecturer who is embracing the future of GIS is Natasha Pauli from The University of Western Australia (UWA). “As students move into the work place it’s [geospatial software] going to become more and more common, so if they’ve had some exposure to it before they actually enter the work force then it can only be a benefit,” says Natasha.

Natasha coordinates Environmental Policy and Planning (taught to second year students) and also Environmental Planning and Management (taught to fourth year students). This year Natasha also helped teach the International Field Work in Geography unit, which aims to give the students in-depth insights into the complexity of geographical issues through a trip to a host country. But to add another element to the trip, Natasha incorporated our mobile mapping application Mappt.

“As students move into the work place it’s [geospatial software] going to become more and more common, so if they’ve had some exposure to it before they actually enter the work force then it can only be a benefit,”

The host country this year was Spain, so Natasha’s 22 students and three other staff members flew to Barcelona to look primarily at urban planning and its peri urban region, which is an agricultural transition zone. “We were looking at how urban pressures are changing the traditional rural environment and land uses there,” explains Natasha. “Then we went to quite a regional part of Catalonia, which is up in the mountains to look at how traditional agriculture has really changed with people leaving their land, the pressures of the economy and the increase in tourism.”

uwa using mappt

UWA students using Mappt in Barcelona. Image: UWA

Mappt’s easy to use features and user-friendly interface makes it the ideal GIS for those new to creating location-based data, plus its Android tablet platform means it’s light and slimline enough to be carried around by hand or in a backpack. Natasha and her students primarily used Mappt as a navigation aid on walks and bike rides around Barcelona. “We used the offline GPS tracking to record where we were actually walking,” says Natasha. “In the peri-urban area region Mappt worked really well because mobile phone reception was still quite good, so that was really excellent.”

Another feature the students enjoyed was the geotagged photos. “The students used the geotagged photos a lot to take pictures at certain points,” says Natasha. Geotagged photos allow you to quickly see points of interest on your map as these points and their attributes are displayed as a small image instead of just a marker. This gives Mappt a more visual element and is ideal for students who learn and remember information easier with visuals.

Data collected in Subirats by UWA students. Image: UWA

Offline GPS tracking from Subirats captured by UWA students. Image: UWA

Having never used a mobile mapping tool before, Natasha gave herself a “crash course” on how to use it. After she grasped the basics, she could already see its potential: “I thought Mappt was a really useful piece of kit and I got a lot out of using the software. I can definitely see where I would use it for teaching purposes in the future,” she says.

One way she would do like to do this is by giving her students the opportunity to collect data in the field and to make sure they fully grasp how to use GIS software. Although Mappt’s interface is far simpler than most other mobile mapping applications, it can still be tricky if you have never used them before. “Most of the students really would have liked to of had a chance to use Mappt and play around with the software before we went on the field trip. I think it needs a lead-in time for students to become familiarised with it, so in future we need to actually give them a bit of time to work out how to use Mappt before they go out into the field.” Furthermore, once her students are familiar with Mappt’s easy process of importing and exporting data, this will equip them with the knowledge of mobile mapping technology irrespective of which GIS they use, as Mappt is fully compatible with most industry leading softwares.

Since experiencing what geospatial technology can offer, Natasha is eager to give Mappt a more prominent role in her geography lectures. “I would definitely incorporate opportunities to actually enter data into Mappt because I think that’s really valuable and the students would enjoy it too. So in terms of integrating it more with what we were teaching, I’d definitely do it again.”

It seems that education could become the next industry to really utilise geospatial technology.

If you would like to know how you can use Mappt for educational purposes, contact us to find out what out we can offer you and your students.

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  1. […] ideal data capture and management software for those new to GIS. This is why universities (including The University of Western Australia) choose Mappt to introduce their geography students to field data collection over other, more […]

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