Geomatics & Participation Summer School 2016 – Developing mobile mapping apps to encourage citizen participation in nature conservation
Geospatial tools in a Web 2.0 environment can encourage citizens to engage with and influence their environment through online participation. In the field of geomatics, today’s students have to develop competencies in current technologies and learn how to adapt to continuously and rapidly changing technologies and applications. At the same time, we live in a globalized world where we increasingly deal with people from different backgrounds or have to commute to unknown places and environments for work. In this paper, we report about the experiences of students and lecturer participants from Germany and South Africa in a summer school on geomatics and participation, held in Karlsruhe, Germany, in July 2016. The starting point was to learn about nature conservation in Germany, particularly about the Rhine floodplains close to Rastatt. Mobile mapping apps were developed for this area with the aim of supporting conservation efforts. Confronting the participants with a new geographic area, a software development environment unknown to them and group work with participants from both universities has led to interesting insights beyond getting to know the partner university. From an evaluation of the summer school by participants, it was evident that the summer school succeeded in raising interest for participation in the student exchange programme and that participants expect clear guidance on the objectives of different activities. The balance between socializing and work provides a unique atmosphere for effective teaching and working, making a summer school such an enjoyable experience for students and lecturers.