Review by Melissa Powers, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2019
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Siftr

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Collect images in the field with simple, collaborative app

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication & Collaboration
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
9–12
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5 images

Pros: Large groups can create interactive maps using a variety of devices.

Cons: Teachers will need to think twice about privacy protections before using geotagging with students.

Bottom Line: An easy way to crowdsource location-based data.

Siftr is a simple way to collect images from a group of collaborators. This tool would work for any project where you want to send students out to look for things. For example, collect pictures of flora and fauna for a citizen science project. Take it to the next level and connect with educators in nearby schools to expand your data set, or connect with classrooms in different climates to draw comparisons. In language or social studies classes, send students looking for certain cultural influences in their communities. When users upload an image, you can give them the option of categorizing the image and adding descriptions. Require students to analyze the image or explain why they chose to include it in the collection.

As the terms of service state, this tool isn't for children under 13, but it might work well for high school classrooms or professional development. Younger students could help their teacher collect images as long as all images are posted through the teacher's account. You could even use Siftr to create a tagged-image collection by yourself and then ask students to draw conclusions about your data.

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Siftr is a mobile and web app that allows students and teachers to contribute geotagged images to digital collections called "Siftrs." For example, participants could share images during a scavenger hunt or contribute to a citizen science observation project. A Siftr collection must be created on the Siftr website. Then students can upload images via the mobile app or website. Anyone can view a public Siftr, but if they want to add their own images, they must create a Siftr username. All images are geotagged, and users can view collections by map or image gallery. Collections can be public or private with optional password protection and moderation. Siftr's creator, Field Day Lab, offers a free online PD course to help teachers facilitate and implement Siftr in the classroom.

Siftr has the potential to create an engaging learning adventure. Like many tech tools, success is in the execution. It's easy to treat this tool like a gimmick, but teachers will engage students more by asking them to collect meaningful data. It's great that images can be loaded in real time or later. Teachers can even load images they didn't take (as long as they remember to consider copyright). This option helps students participate even if they don't have a smartphone or a large data plan. Be careful of geotagging -- it can be a really useful data point, but it can also be a privacy nightmare. If image location isn't important, teachers may want to consider having students upload images while at school, or change the image's default location to their school address.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Everyone's contributions matter when using Siftr to learn about your community, big or small.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Everyone works together to build understanding by building a collection of places, images, and ideas.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The app is fairly intuitive, with some useful getting started tips, but there's no in-app support.


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