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I am a teacher who would like to introduce this to my class and collaborate on a project to map some trails in our town. I am wondering if you have an age restriction?

asked 26 Sep '18, 12:47

diane_r's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Teaching school kids how to map their local neighborhood is a great way of introducing them to geography and map making, and shows them that they can be in control of "their" map. It is a project with great potential but there are some caveats

When an account is created, you need to give a valid email address. This is the email address which will also receive communications from other mappers if what your students do causes concern to anyone. In the past, student mapping activities that were not planned well enough occasionally had the following side effects:

  • students would add "fun" data ("Billy's house", "Sarah's pond") or, when older, "Weed plantation" and similar
  • students would make systematic mapping errors like overlapping buildings, unconnected roads, or similar
  • students would accidentally violate their own or their classmates' privacy by using real names for user accounts and/or adding personal information to the map
  • community members would try to contact mappers when such issues became apparent (often not knowing they were students) but would not receive replies; unable to determine whom to speak to about the issues, the matter would then be escalated to moderators or administrators
  • moderators or administrators would then block all of the student accounts and/or remove the data contributed, or if it was discernible that the effort was coming from a particular school, would try to find out the teacher responsible by contacting the school administration, occasionally causing embarrassment for the teacher

To avoid such problems, it is good practice to ensure that all accounts participating in the activity are clearly marked (via their "user profile" page) as participating in a certain exercise, and for all of them to have a clear avenue of communication listed on the user profile (e.g. "This account is used in a mapping exercise at Lone Star Secondary, for any questions contact XXX").

Depending on the maturity of your students, it might make sense for you as a teacher to actually create all the student accounts for your class, using your own email address (OSM requires a unique email address for each account but most email providers allow you to add a "+something" postfix to your email and it will still work). Then you hand out the account names and passwords to your students, and if anyone complains about anything, it will be you who gets an email message and has to deal with it.

Of course, it is also important that you ensure your students understand they're editing a public resource, and that this is not the place for "fun" edits. Unless your class is super-human, there will be individuals who will still add "fun" stuff no matter how often you tell them. You can, and should, go through the edits your students have made (which is easier if you created the accounts - it means you will know what they are called!), and fix at least the glaring issues.

Good luck!

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answered 26 Sep '18, 16:29

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

Please see our Terms of Use (the intellectual property aspects of contributing are handled in our contributor terms) for details on use by minors. If your pupils are younger than 13 you should ask the OSMF board to see if a workaround can be found.

We are in the process of producing guidance for educators (and eventually enshrining some aspects of the restrictions in our systems), but that will take a bit.

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answered 26 Sep '18, 14:23

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦
accept rate: 18%

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question asked: 26 Sep '18, 12:47

question was seen: 1,891 times

last updated: 26 Sep '18, 16:29

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum