POSTPONED - Short Course: Change Detection with SfM and GPS: Teaching Undergraduates in the Field

May 2022
May 16-19, 2021
May 17-20, 2020
Anticipated: 6 pm Sun May 15 - noon Wed May 18, 2022 (noon Thur May 19 for committed implementation cohort)
Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID

COVID19 Notice - March 4, 2021 - Due to the pandemic we have determined that it is necessary to further postpone this in-person short course. We considered holding it in August 2021 or during the academic year 2021-22 but ultimately decided the best course of action is to postpone the in-person workshop to May 2022. Accepted participants to the originally-scheduled May 2020 workshop have been asked to provide feedback on whether virtual options would better serve their needs.

COVID19 Notice- April 20, 2020 - We made the decision to postpone this short course. Initially we hoped to reschedule for later in the summer 2020 but in the end due to concerns about travel and ISU's decision not to host the in-person event, we have determined that we will need to postpone for a full year.

Short course participants will learn practical approaches for integrating field-based change detection into their undergraduate courses. The emphasis will be structure from motion (SfM) photogrammetry and global positioning system (GPS) for change detection but information about terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) and other field applications of the methods will also be included. SfM will be done using both uncrewed aerial systems (UAS=drones) and ground-based platforms (hand-held, pole). Georeferencing will be done with kinematic GPS. Methods are appropriate for both summer field camps and academic-year courses with field components.

Teaching materials are drawn from the free online NSF-funded GETSI modules:

Deadline March 15, 2020 with rolling admissions starting in late February.
Round 1 (2020) Applications closed.
Round 2 will open early 2022 once short course has been solidly rescheduled for in-person.


Fieldwork is an integral part of the geosciences and there is a longstanding tradition of teaching field methods as part of the undergraduate curriculum. As Earth science research technologies have grown, there is more interest in introducing geodetic methods into field education courses. Technology integration into field education has several advantages, including student engagement and workforce development. This short course has been developed in response to community interest and input and builds on successful pioneering efforts of UNAVCO community members.


This short course is for instructors whose courses include at least some field teaching components. Summer field camp and academic-year courses with field components both qualify. Later-stage graduate students with significant teaching responsibility are also eligible. Participants of 2016-18 UNAVCO/GETSI field short courses can apply too. (The greatest overlap would be with the 2017 short course. Check in with Beth (email below) if you have questions.)

A subset of short course participants will be accepted to the Committed Implementation Cohort. These instructors will definitely be using geodetic method/s in their teaching in the 15 months following the short course. In return for this commitment they will receive some additional funding, engineering support, and priority access to the educational equipment pool. Applicants for a cohort position will complete an additional couple questions on the same application form. See details below. Of course we hope all participants are able to implement geodetic field teaching at some point, but we realize not everyone can commit to doing it right away.

Travel and Costs

Idaho State University is located in Pocatello, ID, which is 2.5 hours north of Salt Lake City International Airport and 20 minutes from Pocatello Regional Airport. The sponsors will provide housing (ISU dorms) and food during the short course, transportation to/from airports and field sites, and a $500 stipend to offset travel costs for participants coming from outside the southern Idaho/northern Utah area ($700 for implementation cohort). Stipend will be issued in the month following the short course.


Participants will:

  • Be able to conduct SfM and kinematic GPS surveys and do the related data processing
  • Be able to teach SfM and/or GPS methods applied to a geoscience research question of societal relevance
  • Make implementation plans for teaching the method/s in their own course/s


  • Benjamin Crosby (Idaho State University)
  • Beth Pratt-Sitaula (UNAVCO)


Committed Implementation Cohort

About a quarter of the short course participants will be accepted as part of the committed implementation cohort. Apply for this opportunity using the same application form but fill out the couple additional cohort-related questions. Of course we hope all participants are able to implement geodetic field teaching at some point, but we realize not everyone can commit to doing it right away. Cohort participants are also part of our educational research on barriers and pathways to implementing instrumental field methods into geoscience courses. Cohort members must be instructors of record, not teaching assistants.

Previous participants in UNAVCO/GETSI field short courses in 2016-18 are also eligible to apply to be part of the Committed Implementation Cohort. Talk to Beth (email below) if you have questions.


  • Additional day of short course time to work on implementation planning and refine technical skills
  • Additional $200 of travel stipend ($700 total)
  • UNAVCO field engineer will join you the first time you teach to support your technical capabilities
  • Priority scheduling for the GETSI/UNAVCO educational equipment pool during this teaching (includes survey GPS and UAV instruments)


  • Commit to teaching with at least one field geodetic method by August 2021
  • Complete any needed additional preparatory planning/training to be ready to teach
  • Host the field engineer at your site during teaching if it is a field camp setting (grant will cover engineer housing if on campus or equivalent)
  • Help as needed with follow-up activities such as:
    (these would not be super time-consuming but would be needed support to the grant's wider mission)
    • completing reflections and/or interview about the experience
    • helping to disseminate through being a presenter in a webinar or meeting
    • maybe writing a short "Instructor Story" description of how you implemented into your course


Contact Beth Pratt-Sitaula (prattsitaula AT