Choosing Features for Your Classroom

In response to the Co-Vid 19 emergency and increased need for remote learning tools, Budburst Classrooms has added new functionality, providing flexibility in selecting species and locations.  In addition, teachers can choose to either create student accounts or invite participants via email.  For details, please review Choosing Features for Your Classroom.

Budburst has RUSHED these features in response to the Co-Vid 19 emergency; help make them useful to you and others by reporting problems, providing input, and sending questions to This document will be updated regularly so please check back!


Restrict Sites and Species

restrict sites and species setting

Budburst provides three levels of teacher control over species and locations for student reporting.  The Create Classroom form has pre-selected the restricted status.  Note that there are three options following this switch.  These are: 

Paired Plants at Locations (option #1)

This would be the perfect classroom setting for a research garden. This particular plant (Rudbeckia fulgida #2) at this particular location (School East Garden).  If you have two research gardens you might also have a Rudbeckia fulgida #2 at the School West Garden!  

Unpaired Plants and Locations (option #2)

In this option, you may identify one, two or more species.  And separately, one, two or more locations. Students visit the locations and report on whichever of the species they observe. They might observe flowering for one of several cherry species at a local park versus cherry trees planted next to the schoolyard. 

Unrestricted Sites and Species (option #3)

When the green switch is turned off (see picture above), the first two options disappear from the Create Classroom form.  With restrictions turned off, students are responsible for reporting on a species and providing its location.  During the co-vid emergency, this option may be the most effective. Students can choose their own plants found close to their own homes.

Restrict to Student Accounts

restrict to student account setting


Why use Teacher-Created Accounts for your Budburst Classroom? 

Teachers create an account for each student including a unique username; download the student list as a CSV or Excel file; provide each student their username and password along with instructions on how to log in and post an observation. 

  • In Schools: Protecting the privacy of your students – particularly if they are under 13 years of age (as per COPPA). 

  • Informal Education: Using a Budburst Classroom for a rotating set of data collectors – such as visitors to a nature center. 

  • Training: As part of a How-to-use-Budburst training session (be sure to delete ‘practice’ observations!). 


Why use E-Mail Invitations for your Budburst Classroom? 

Teachers add an email address for each person they are inviting to their Budburst Classroom.  Budburst sends an email to each address inviting them to join the classroom. The email includes steps to creating a Budburst account if the person doesn’t already have one. 

  • In Schools: Students in upper grades and college-level can create and contribute to their own accounts as well as to the classroom. 

  • Informal Education: Ease in gathering collected, centralized data for a local garden club, park staff, or volunteers. 

Hint: The email invitations are automatically sent out when the list of email addresses is ‘saved.’ If you want to set up the Classroom in advance - but don’t want students in the classroom yet - Save your settings; come back when you are ready and “edit classroom” to add student emails. 

Three Scenarios for Using Budburst Classrooms

Co-Vid 19 Remote Learning Scenario

Unfortunately, we all know what this scenario looks like: Your students are all confined close to their home which may or may not be close to the school grounds.  Therefore, you cannot expect students to report on plants located on or near the school grounds. However, you can expect they will be able to find a flower that is blooming, a shrub that is fruiting, or a tree whose leaves are changing color.  Here are some options for your Budburst Classroom: 

  • Do Not Restrict Plants and Locations - Students will search for plants near their homes and upload a photo (not required by Budburst), along with plant identification, location, date, and phenology information.  Students find and report on plants that meet your assignment: report observations once a week, or track two different types of plants, or report on two of the same species but in very different settings (one in a park, one next to a building).

  • Student Accounts or Email Invitation - If your students are over 13 years old and have their own or a school-assigned email address, you could invite them to the Budburst Classroom using their email addresses (this will save you the work of creating and managing Student Accounts).  However, if your students are under 13 years of age or if they do not all have email accounts, you will need to create Student Accounts and send each student (or their parents) their Budburst username and password.  


Grade School Research Garden 

Your school participates in the Nativars Research Project - each student is assigned a plant in the garden that they are responsible for.  Each student observes that specific plant several times through the fall months, observing both the phenology status of the plant as well as recording pollinator visits.  For your Budburst Classroom you might decide to:

  • Paired plants and locations - Each student has an assigned plant and all plants are in one location (the research garden), student need only upload their data for their own plant (i.e. aromatic aster #2).   

  • Create Student accounts - to maintain the confidentiality of student data and because some of your students may not have email accounts. Because your students will be posting their observations in your school’s computer lab or on your classroom computers, you can assist them in their login and posting procedures. 


Organization or Nature Center Volunteers  

A local organization of people over 18 years of age is dedicated to expanding the use of native plants for landscaping.  Over the past three years, they have planted two species of dogwood and three species of Viburnum in the five local parks.  They decide to track the phenology of these key species so they can provide local homeowners with more specific flowering dates for the immediate area.

  • Unpaired Plants at Locations - The coordinator for this project wants reports on the five key species and for only five locations. She adds the species and locations to the Budburst Classroom.  Each participant finds and observes and reports on any of those species in and selects its location from the five the coordinator has posted. 

  • Email Invitation - The project coordinator creates the Budburst Classroom and invites all the group members along with some of the homeowners they have worked with over the past two years.  Participants can create their Budburst account and make their observation reports within the classroom so data can be easily gathered and downloaded for analysis. Some participants decide to also make observation reports on other species and they do so, but not inside the Budburst Classroom.  

Privacy Questions and Answers 

I am concerned about student privacy.  If students are making observations in their backyard or near their home, how are they protected from the public?

Teachers need to be aware that the general public would be able to see these addresses if a  member of the public includes ‘school data’ in their data searches. However, the general public would NOT be able to see the students' unique usernames.  Some teachers are choosing, instead, to set locations at a park or park-like settings near several students' homes where they could walk to make their observations.

Another option for teachers is provided by the new features:  teachers gather parent-approved emails, the teacher sends an invitation to each student using the parent-approved email.  The students that have parent approval can enter the site they decide to make their observations from. That puts the decision to use home addresses back into the hands of the parents - where it should be.  The teacher won't have to enter individual addresses. The teacher’s classroom spreadsheet will show which students made which observations.