Introduced a couple years ago as a free and open resource, Siftr is already in use by hundreds of people in different corners of the globe and is gaining traction, especially among educators who use the app to help students explore the word around them.
“We wanted to build a technology that everybody could use for free, that could serve as an exchange and be a way to engage students,” says [David] Gagnon, [program director for the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery’s Field Day Lab].
Siftr users set up pages around topics, and participants — be they students, hikers, food cart aficionados, nature center visitors, cloud watchers, mitten finders, coffee sippers or graffiti trackers — upload images according to a direction set by the person organizing a Siftr. The page then generates a map, placing whatever object or phenomenon in its spatial context.
For Gagnon, Siftr users like [UW-Madison folklorist and educator Ruth] Olson are helping to validate the platform as a nimble, malleable educational resource. “It’s opening a whole new world of educational projects,” he says. “Our most common users are educators. It is a way for people to engage their environment and they don’t have to build all this technology.”
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