Initial Publication Date: January 27, 2022

Short Course: Change Detection with SfM and GPS/GNSS: Teaching Undergraduates in the Field

6 pm Sat May 21 - 11:30 am Tue May 24, 2022 (11:30 am Wed May 25 for committed implementation cohort)
Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID

COVID19 Notice - This course was originally scheduled May 2020 and postponed to 2021 and then 2022. All people accepted to the original course were given the opportunity to stay registered or participate in an alternate virtual event. Then the course was reopened for more applicants to fill available slots. See COVID policies to learn the steps we are taking related to COVID safety.

Short course is full. Round 2 applications closed May 15, 2022.


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 navigation satellite system (GNSS) for change detection but information about lidar 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/GNSS. 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:


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 may also apply. (The greatest overlap would be with the 2017 short course or the 2021 virtual short courses. 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.

See Travel Information page for more details. ISU Campus Map for May 2022 short course (Acrobat (PDF) 278kB May13 22)


Participants will:

  • Be able to conduct SfM and kinematic GPS surveys and produce a georeferenced point cloud
  • Be able to compare two point clouds to detect topographic change
  • Make implementation plans for teaching the method/s in their own course/s


  • Benjamin Crosby (Idaho State University)
  • Bruce Douglas (Indiana 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 2016-21 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 2023
  • 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

COVID19 Policies and Planning

We are focused on ensuring a safe and productive short course. GETSI has developed the following protocols related to COVID19 safety based on local and national guidelines. If conditions, advice, or requirements change, we will inform Participants as quickly as possible. We cannot reduce risk to zero. GETSI is asking attendees to protect the community and each other.

  1. All Participants must be up-to-date* on COVID vaccinations or have a medical exemption in order to attend the short course. Participants will need to show proof of vaccination or medical exemption (paper or electronic) during the check-in process, before entering the short course venue.
  2. All Participants will be required to wear masks while in indoor settings, unless they are giving a presentation or actively eating or drinking.
  3. On-site rapid antigen test kits will be available at no cost for any Participants who feel unwell, have COVID-like symptoms, and/or were exposed to someone else who tested positive.
  4. No Participant shall come to the short course if they are having COVID-like symptoms.
  5. If a Participant becomes COVID-positive during the short course they will need to stop attending immediately. The Participant must follow local and/or state guidelines for COVID positivity and quarantine. GETSI shall not be responsible for any losses, modifications, travel inconveniences, or any other disruptions to Participants due to positive COVID tests or quarantine.

*Up-to-date as defined by the US Center for Disease Control ( At the time of writing (February 2, 2022) this means a person has received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines (2 Moderna or Pfizer; 1 J&J) and any recommended boosters. We will endeavor to inform participants rapidly in the event there is a change to this guidance.

**Stipends will be sent out the month after the short course. Most stipends must go to US citizens/permanent residents or people at US institutions. A couple stipends are available for non-US people.


Contact Beth Pratt-Sitaula (prattsitaula AT

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