How I Use It
This is a great mobile app that allows users to post a species observation (photo or text-based) and make identification guesses. The group of users on “iNat” (as some users affectionately refer to it) includes expert taxonomists who will then comment each observation post and make suggestions as to its species identification. This is what iNat calls “crowd-sourced species identification” and builds upon the idea of a social network to learn about the natural world!
Indirectly, the app also serves as a biodiversity catalogue of the species. Users can view what other observations were made in the area and how many times a species was viewed in certain locations.
I used this to conduct a field lab experience in the area surrounding the school. I setup an iNat project for the school for all students to post their observations. Prior to heading outstide to begin collecting data via iNat, we used the iNat training powerpoint by a fellow teacher (https://protecthabitat.wordpress.com/inaturalist-curriculum).
Then, students were grouped into teams and using either a personal mobile device or a school iPad, students downloaded the iNat mobile app and created accounts. *Note: children have to be over 13 years old to create profiles and use the site without parent approval.
During the field lab, students can upload photos (which is the most useful) or write a text-based description. Then, they can check the “ID Please” option on their post, and the iNat community crowd-sourced the species identification of their posts.
During our next class session, we used the website platform to export data the class collected using the export tool (http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/export). Students completed data analysis individually in the computer lab based on our findings in the field lab trip.