Tuesday, March 16, 2010

GeoTagging with student iPhones and Picasa Web Album

GeoTagging with an Apple iPhone 3GS is an absolute snap!  With a camera and GPS built-in, you just point-and-shoot.  The challenge can be transfering these geotagged images to an online service that maps your pics. However, using the "email feature" in Picasa Web Album resolves this issue quite handily.

Why an iPhone?
Apple iPhones have gained rapid and dramatic market share in consumer mobile devices.  This trend may be the most evident among kids and young adults.  My own informal polling of students, teachers, and principals leads me to suspect that anywhere from 25% to 50% of middle schools students are carrying one of these devices.  While many of these students have pages of apps and the Apple data plan, few of them can buy an app.  For teachers, this means that potentially 50% of students in your class are carrying their own data collecting device that will geotag images.  Students can email the geotagged images directly from the iPhone to Picasa Web Albums, after making a few tweaks in Picasa.

Setting up your classroom Picasa Web Album
  1. If you don't already have a Google account your use for the classroom, create one.
  2. Login to your classroom account and head to Picasa Web Albums
  3. Click on "Settings" in the upper-right corner.
  4. On the "General" tab, check the box next to "Upload photos by email" and note the special email address you're given. after entering a secret word (usually an @picasaweb.com address).
  5. Now, when your students take a geotagged photo, they just email it to this address. 
  6. These emailed photos will appear in a "Drop Box" folder and will need to be moved to another public folding of your choice.

Steps for classroom activities
  1. Students use the built-in iPhone camera app to take a geotagged photo.
  2. Students share the photo by emailing it to the address, provided by Picasa.
  3. You (teachers) will need to move the photos to a new album.
  4. Students can then comment on their photos, contributing any other attribute information collected during the study.

What a great way to empower students, engaging them with their tools and tech, while extending classroom and collaborative data collection!  Share your thoughts or experience below. 

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