Following training provided by the RGS-IBG Data Skills Programme, we have used the free ArcGIS Online system with our year 12 A Level students (we have around 80 year 12 students) for several years but with the new specification we decided to develop student use of Survey123 to help manage the NEA Independent Investigation project. We introduce the system to students and undertake some basic practice data collection as part of our course induction and then build on this throughout Year 12. In the run up to the field course we show students how to set up their data collection forms and questionnaires on Survey123 and they then download these to their phones for use in the field.
On the field course students test out their data collection forms and questionnaires as part of the pilot study afternoon and amend as needed before the main data collection the next day. Students have found the ability collect all their data on their phones (or tablets) much easier and it is all backed up to the cloud so can be lost as easily as a piece of paper etc. The Survey 123 system is very intuitive and easy to use with a lot of available tutorials/instructions and the ability to download the data collection forms to the app means that data can be collected offline if no mobile data is available, uploading to the cloud later via WiFi. Many of the students have unlimited data on their phone and so their data is constantly synced and backed up live to the ArcGIS cloud, this also enables us to monitor them remotely via our ArcGIS master account as we undertake remote supervision on the trip.
On their return from the data collection, Survey 123 instantly analyses the data and produces some useful initial graphs, maps and charts which students can use to get an idea about their data. They can then also instantly download their data set as an Excel file which enables more detailed and accurate analysis and graphing. The other fantastic aspect of the system is that all of the data is instantly available to map within ArcGIS Online, making some great GIS analysis possible for students independently using the tutorials online. The quality of the work that many of our students produce using this system with only our limited generic advice is incredible and really improved their final NEA outcome and result. It is a clear example of how GIS and data skills can simultaneously make the NEA data collection easier, improve the quality of the analysis undertaken and give the students some excellent transferrable and employable skills for the future with only limited input by the teaching staff.
Simon Holland FRGS CGeog (Teacher)
Bilborough Sixth Form College, Nottingham
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