Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas.
Dallas: N: 32º 46.913' W: 096º 48.340'
I have spent the day at Bishop Dunne Catholic School, a school of 620 students committed to providing a high quality education firmly integrated with the use of technology. Bishop Dunne has been frequently mentioned to me as a great example of using GIS, so the opportunity to visit the school for a day was a necessity when visiting Dallas. The Principal of the school is an Australian, Kate Dailey who just happens to be the wife of George Dailey my ESRI contact in the US. Kate, with the assistance of George has been able to develop a great GIS programme at the school headed up by Brad Baker. I visited Brad's class in the morning and saw first hand the excellent problem solving work of his students. This week they are, believe it or not, mapping an historical grave site using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR technology. The project is a real community effort to make sure that an area of historical significance containing graves is not developed without due care. The students have gone out to the site and collected the data of the possible grave locations using GPR technology and are presently producing maps to represent their findings. Brad's class is also using aerial photographs of a lake to do some real CSI work on a crime scene from the 70's involving a truck and body. What I was impressed with Brad's work is that his students are involved in real problem solving GIS in the community and builds on much of the other work he has done with the Dallas Police Department. If interested in the work of Brad's students go to http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/localnews/news8/stories/wfaa071012_lj_hawkins.163bc773d.html
Although not GIS alone I was also pleased to see the smart technology called synchroneyes which enables the instructor to block the computers any time to ensure that students turn around and listen to instruction when required. That pesky habit of students (and teachers during training)tapping away when you want them to listen is solved! What a good idea. The technology is cheap and available at http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Products/SynchronEyes+Classroom+Management+Software/
Also of interest to those interested in a free GIS programme download to get started is unlimited download for fgis found at http://www.forestpal.com/fgis.html The fgis programme is a great option for those just wanting to do some basic GIS activity at no cost.
During my visit I also had the pleasure of visiting the class of Kyle Stephens who is using some great technology in his classes. Of particular interest is the class blogging site of http://classblogmeister.com/. To get the class involved this technology is a great way to encourage discussion on issues within the class and across the globe. To see an example of Kyle's class blogging go to http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=21053 Kyle also mentioned the Discovery Channel site
http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com/index.cfm for some great teaching resources with the students are using IPods in a wide variety of ways. Kyle is also using photostory for story telling and project work, which is available as a free download from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx
I would like to thank Kate Dailey for organizing a lunch time meeting with key teachers in the school related to technology. The session involved chatting about the use of GIS in the classroom and some of their observations about the uptake of the technology by teachers, the response of students to the technology and perceived futures. I would also like to thank Christine Voigt who works at Bishop Dunne for showing me around on the day. Christine is one of the authors of the ESRI “Mapping Our World “series which is used in hundreds of schools across Australia.