In today’s connected society people are finding and sharing interests through social networking sites and activities. This connected and inquiry-based learning is a wonderful way for large groups of people to learn more about the world around them. Launched in 2009 by the Open University (OU), iSpot (www.ispotnature.org) taps into this connectivism through a website designed to help close the gap in the general public’s identification skills in relation to natural history. iSpot is a citizen science initiative which engages people through their interest in wildlife, helping them to identify species through a system that connects novices to experts. The website enables participation in scientific research through crowdsourcing species names and also uses communication, engagement combined with learning opportunities, both formal and informal, to reach a wide and diverse audience, taking them on a unique learning journey (Ansine, 2013). It is accessible to all ages and abilities, including children such as 6-year-old Katie, who found a moth not seen in Europe before and whose family used iSpot to identify it (http://www.ispotnature.org/node/7407).

Collated iSpot usage statistics indicate that, up to December 2014, iSpot had a global community of close to 48,000 experts and members of the public who had together shared over 460,000 observations, through 850,000 images of 30,000 taxa. The site was accessed by over a million visits through more than 2.5 million sessions. It is an international platform with UK, Southern Africa, Hong Kong, and Chile communities; most of the observations (85%) are from the UK, with contributions from over 130 other countries (Silvertown et al., 2015).

Source: Supporting Mobile Learning and Citizen Science Through iSpot

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