The Bath Spa Observer is a digital mapping platform that uses state of the art technology to capture environmental data for use in the classroom and beyond.
Bath Spa University campuses contain high quality environmental heritage, as well as archaeological and architectural treasures. For students, it is an open-air laboratory and provides a pivotal learning resource and source of inspiration. Similarly, it provides a place for personal reflection and restoration for students, staff and members of the public.
Throughout their education, students collect data as a part of their learning journey that can also provide an insight into the health of our environment. However, this information is rarely utilised beyond the classroom. In an era of research-led teaching, where digital technologies are an omnipresent feature of the modern classroom and our daily lives, this presents a great opportunity for a branch of citizen science known as community based monitoring.
Software and development
With funding from Bath Spa's College of Liberal Arts QR fund, Bath Spa University Observer (or BSUObserver) launched as a pilot in 2018. It is a digital mapping platform that compiles data collected by students, staff and members of the public alike across the University campuses. It does this using state of the art ArcGIS Online mapping, Python scripting and Google Docs.
This software facilitates student learning by supporting interaction with key vocational tools and provides a platform upon which to build citizen science initiatives. For students this will provide an enriched learning experience, and outlines a blueprint that other institutions may follow.
The Bath Spa Observer platform can be accessed via this link.
Thornhill, I. (2018, April). 'BSU Observer: Making the most out of student, staff and public generate environmental data at Bath Spa University'. Oral presentation at the British Ecological Society Teaching and Learning ‘Advancing Synergies between Teaching and Research’ Symposium, University of Birmingham, UK.