I've just been playing with the '2Investigate' program within 2Simples PurpleMash creative online learning package that we use in school, and in particular the new 'collaborative' feature of 2Investigate.
Now, whenever you want to create a new database there is an option to create it 'collaboratively'. What does that mean? Well, now you do not need to limit your data collection to just the pupils in your class, or your school. You can allow anyone, anywhere to add data to your database.
The creation process is amazing easy. Once you choose to create a collaborative database, you name it, and then the software adds a random series of numbers after your name (ie 'favouritetoys' would become something like 'favouritetoys1234'). At this point it's a good idea to write down the name / numbers of the database because if you forget them... (I know, I created a database earlier in the day, and now I am currently hoping that someone at 2Simple will be able to find the database I created, and tell me its name!!)
Once you've created a database file and named it, you need to add some fields to it. There is a limit of 12 fields for each entry to the database, but that seems like plenty, and each field can be named, the input selected (letters or numbers) and also a pre-determined list of selectable answers added too).
For someone wanting to add an entry, the process is equally straightforward too. From the options (below) select open, choose the 'collaborative' option - and then enter the name of the database into the box that appears.
The database will open - and you will see all of the previous entries on screen. From here you can either add your own entry (using the '+' icon) or else analyse, and interpret the data already collected using the remaining icons along the top of the screen. Those icons are, as with all 2SImple icons, straightforward and easy to identify; View entries as a table, search the database, group the entries, create a graph, view statistics. The final icon (the red arrow) is an 'autorefresh' option, that will auto refresh the entries in the database. This is really useful if you are viewing the database live as people are sending in data.
Viewing the entries in the database using the table option (there was only a single entry as I grabbed this screenshot!)
The search option is very clever, and allows the user to form a question using a series of dropdown boxes. The first box lets the user choose the field, the second sets an operation (equals, is greater than, is less than, etc) and the third box will display any of the preset options for a field. Once the question has been formed, pressing OK will then display the results of that search.
The database that I have set up is called 'Birdstudy2571' and (as you have probably guessed) is a database of birds that you might see in your garden. They fields I chose allow the database to run and run and run, year on year, potentially building up into a really useful database that could be used to explore seasonal changes in birds spotted, as well as looking for longer term trends and changes too.
All it needs now is for pupils to begin to populate it with entries - not just my class pupils, not just pupils in the school, but pupils from ANYWHERE around the UK* who have access to PurpleMash. Truly, a collaborative database.
*It can be used by pupils in other countries, but the fields chosen focus on birds more likely to be found in UK gardens, not gardens of the world.