Spatial Technologies and Fieldwork in 
Victorian Curriculum and VCE Geography

Guide to Spatial Technology Applications in Geography Fieldwork

The table provides a guide to linking the fieldwork needs of students to appropriate examples of spatial technologies that are freely accessible. The use of free apps does not preclude the use of commercial ones for both Android and iOS mobile devices. Many, sometimes inexpensive, commercial alternatives exist, often providing greater level of functionality or being advertising free.

Multiple examples of applications are given, many of which have similar capabilities. A teacher should familiarise themselves with, and assess the applications according to their specific fieldwork task requirements.

Application examples also cater to both Android and Apple (iOS), the two predominant mobile device operating systems. Web-based applications are platform independent and are accessible on both mobile devices and desktop computers.

It is important to note that apps for mobile devices are often regularly updated by their developers. In some instances, this means the app will only work with more recent versions of device operating systems. Students receiving in incompatibility message should try alternative apps that achieve the same outcome. From time to time, apps might cease to be supported, therefore becoming unavailable.

I would like my students to… I need an app/site that… Example(s) of which is (are)…
have access to fieldwork site base maps allows for the creation of custom base-maps of fieldwork sites
find their current location using co-ordinates provides location co-ordinates (if required, in different systems, e.g. latitude/longitude, or Universal Transverse Mercator)
  • GPS Test, My GPS Coordinates, GPS Essentials, Get Geo-Coordinates (Android)
  • Compass, GPS Data, Gridder (iOS)
know exactly where they are taking images in the field and have the data available on the image tags camera images with visible latitude and longitude co-ordinates (with elevation and bearing of the view, if required)
  • GPS Map Camera, Surveyor Tools Free, Dioptra, Geocam Free (Android)
  • Altitude DC, Stamper (iOS)
access the encoded locational data on existing images allows access to the location metadata on images, if available
  • GPS Photo Viewer (Android)
  • Photo Investigator (iOS)
be able to record numerical or descriptive data with an accurate point location for export and mapping allows for observational data to be recorded against useable latitude and longitude co-ordinates
  • GPS Logger, GPS Essentials, (Android)
  • Simple Logger (iOS)
record the path they have taken on fieldwork for export and mapping tracks and records students’ location as they move
  • My Tracks, GPS Logger, GPS Essentials (Android)
  • Simple Logger (iOS)
measure lengths, areas and perimeters in the field uses the device GNSS to undertake field measurements
  • Fields Area Measure Free, GPS Distance Meter (Android)
  • A2 Free (iOS)
convert a data point from one latitude and longitude format to another converts between latitude and longitude formats (e.g. digital degrees to degrees and decimal minutes, or degrees, minutes and seconds)
convert multiple sets of latitude and longitude co-ordinates from one format to another batch converts latitude and longitude co-ordinate sets (e.g. digital degrees to degrees and decimal minutes, or degrees, minutes and seconds)
map multiple sets of latitude and longitude co-ordinates imports a map co-ordinates spreadsheet file and plots the points on a digital map
visualise the terrain and vistas of fieldwork locations in the classroom utilises digital terrain modelling (DTM) and remotely sensed satellite images with control over the direction and tilt angle of view
  • Google Earth (standard or Pro) with the ‘Terrain’ and ‘3D Buildings’ layers enabled (all platforms)
associate photographic images taken on fieldwork to map locations attaches images to mapped data points for viewing when the location placemark is clicked
  • Google Earth (standard or Pro) with a free cloud-based image hosting service – examples below (all platforms)
  • http://tinypic.com (no sign-up, note and use ‘Direct Link for Layouts’)
  • http://imgur.com (no sign-up, note and use ‘Direct Link’)
  • http://imgsafe.org (no sign-up, right-click and copy image location)

Bayside P-12 Sample Project

Field-captured images accurately mapped within an app.

Teacher guide to spatial technology apps

Read the App Support Guide for Teachers (PDF) for some background and a guide for teachers in the use of some of the key mobile apps in the table. Familiarisation with these apps will enable teachers to assess similar apps for suitability to their needs.

Using Google Earth Pro

Read the tutorial for importing field-collected data into Google Earth Pro (PDF). This document covers downloading the application for free, setting-up, manually mapping location data, linking images to locations (requires the use of a web-based image hosting service that provides an image URL/web address), drawing ‘view’ polygons, and importing and mapping location data from spreadsheet files.

Werribee students

Werribee Secondary College students capturing field images with embedded location data.

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