Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why should we? The reasons to use GIS in the classroom

Spatial Worlds website
Picture descriptions:
Left image: The sinking city of Venice.
Right image: Factory spewing forth in Milan, Italy.

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Some research ideas
Increasingly people are talking about spatial literacy and the use of spatial technology in the classroom. A question often asked is, where is the research? Whilst there is a great need to expand the research on the nature of spatial literacy and the impact of spatial technology on student learning, there is literature around which has started the ‘ball rolling’ in looking at the empirical data and research in the area. This blog post list some of the current literature on the topic. Such documentation may be of use to the teacher trying to justify their pre-occupation with the area of spatial technology and literacy. While not a definitive list it may provide a start to putting together your own research paper on the topic to convince the powers to be to spend money on spatial technology in your school and to take this vital area of education seriously.

Just a few quotes to get started:

“Getting a new idea adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is often very difficult… a common problem for many individuals and organizations is how to speed up the rate of diffusion of an innovation”
Everett Rogers, Diffusion of innovation, 1995

“GIS represents the single biggest contribution geographers have made to society and economy since the Age of Discovery”
Patrick Wiegand, School of Education, University of Leeds

“Spatial thinking is an increasingly important skill for living and working in the 21st century, the council said, and geographic information system (GIS) technology can help schools teach this skill to their students. Spatial literacy will play an increasingly important role in today's information-based economy, and it should be incorporated into K-12 instruction”
Learning to Think Spatially ( catalog/11019.html)

“Some educators consider GIS to be one of the most promising means for implementing education reform in US schools”
Dr Joseph Kerski : ‘The implementation and effectiveness of GIS Technology & methods in Secondary schools, 2001


* Baker Tom: The History and application of GIS in Education:
* Becta 2004; What the research says about ICT in geography;
* Bednarz Sarah Witham, Associate Professor of Geography, Texas A&M University Learning to Think Spatially catalog/11019.html
* Exploring common ground: The promise of GIS in education:
* Geographical Association paper 2005: GIS in Geography teaching and learning:
* GISAS: Geographical Information Systems applications for schools 2005:
* Goodchild, Michael: Center for Geographic Information and Analysis and Department of Geography, University of California
* Kerski, Dr Joseph: ‘The implementation and effectiveness of GIS Technology and methods in Secondary schools, 2001
* Kerski: Joseph: A National Assessment of GIS in American High Schools 2001
* Rogers Everett: Diffusion of innovation 1995:
* Wiegand, Patrick : School of Education, University of Leeds: Forum GIS in Education;

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Teaching ideas galore at GTAV

Spatial Worlds website

Left image: Fast train luxury, Ice trains in Germany
Right image: Athens by air.

Melbourne, Australia: S: 37º 47' E: 144º 58'

GTAV Conference in Melbourne
As always, the Victorian Teachers Association of Victoria (GTAV) conference in Melbourne was a great event for geography teachers. The GTAV crew put together a conference on August 8th and 9th full of teaching ideas and resources for the new and experienced teacher. In this blog I am going to concentrate on the spatial technology resources presented by Rebecca Nicholas from Bacchus Marsh Grammar. Rebecca has been incredibly busy in Queensland and now in Melbourne being innovative in the classroom with the use of spatial technologies. In her spare time (what spare time?) Rebecca has also been organising the 2008 AGTA/STIS conference on the Sunshine Coast commencing on September 28th. The conference should be a wonderful opportunity for the spatially aware and technologically motivated to learn and share knowledge, methods and ideas.
At the GTAV conference Rebecca’s workshop was titled ‘Using Spatial Technology in the Geography Classroom’. Rebecca gave a stimulating and concise explanation and demonstration of the use of spatial technology, the nature of spatial literacy and the Internet resources available to use in the geography classroom.

The definition of spatial literacy Rebecca used in the workshop should be of interest to this blog:

“To be considered ‘spatially literate’, an individual must have the ability to capture and communicate knowledge in the form of a map, to understand and recognise the world as view from above, to recognise and interpret patterns, and to comprehend such basic concepts as scale, projection and spatial resolution.”
Goodchild (2006)

….and of spatial technology:

“Spatial technologies include any form of technology that refers to place, space and location. Specifically, they are technologies that organize and collect data, by referencing the information collected to a point on the earth’s surface using latitude and longitude.”

Rebecca’s workshop provided an excellent context for the use of spatial technology in the classroom and was very rich with ideas and sites to visit (not to mention the great Youtube videos on the latest spatial technologies). Here are just some of the sites mentioned. Thanks to Rebecca for giving me permission to include in the Spatialworlds blog her summaries of these sites in terms of spatial technology and spatial literacy.

Google Earth Resources for Geography Teachers,
A multitude of resources for Geography teachers on how to use Google Earth in the classroom. This site was established and maintained by a UK Geography teacher.
Earth As Art, US Geological Survey,
This site combines satellite imagery with art to provide fantastic images of the earth’s surface. You are able to view and download high resolution images, taken by the Landsat 7 satellite and the Terra Satellites Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection (ASTER). Environmental Graffiti, an online journal, produced an article on the ’30 Most Incredible Abstract Satellite Images of the Earth’ (
Globe At Night,
You will need to click on ‘map’ to view the data. This amazing website allows you to either view the collected data, or download it to suit your GIS software.
Global Land Cover Facility,
The GLCF is a centre for land cover science with a focus on research using remote sensing data. The site provides earth science data and products to help everyone better understand global environmental systems. In particular, it develops and distributes remotely sensed satellite data. All data from this site is available for free. To view and download the data, you will need to access it via the ESDI (Earth Science Data Interface), a web application for searching, browsing and downloading the data. The site also provides clear explanation of the role of different satellites and the types of data they collect. When on the site, have a look at the special collections. These include imagery from the 2008 China Quakes, Hurricane Katrina and Rita and the 2004 Tsunami.
NASA Earth Observatory,
This site provides access to an enormous number of satellite images. The site provides featured images each day, as well as breaking news articles that feature satellite imagery. Current topical stories are also provided, with satellite imagery. Topics include climate change, natural disasters, deforestation, pollution etc. Three other tools are also available on this site. These,
This site is a global field trip waiting to be explored. It allows the user to interact with the site by choosing any city in the world, and look at photos taken at the site. You can even add your own photos to a point. The site incorporates the 'Hotlinking' aspect of GIS.
Globalis: An Interactive World Map, Grid Arendal United Nations Environment Programme,
This is an interactive world atlas with country statistics related to sustainable development. Globalis aims to create an understanding for similarities and differences in human societies, as well as how we influence the planet. A number of map layers are provided. Globalis also allows the user to display a number of thematic and statistical maps according to indicators. A written description appears beneath each map, explaining what it shows. To view this map you need Internet Explorer 6 or Firefox
OzCoasts and OzEustaries,
OzCoast and OzEstuaries provide comprehensive information about Australia’s coast, including its estuaries and coastal waterways. This information helps to generate a better understanding of coastal environments, the complex processes that occur in them, the potential environmental health issues and how to recognise and deal with these issues.
Health Map:Global Disease Alert Map,
This site uses Google maps as the viewing platform to provide spatial information on the world’s diseases. The site uses various RSS news feeds from medical data bases and news sites, including Google News and the World Health Organisation. Using this data, the site maps reported cases of diseases in the last 30 days. The viewer can zoom to specific countries and continents, as well as specific alerts by country. The site uses GIS layering of the differing disease, so these layers can be turned on or off.
Geocaching Australia,
Geocaching Australia provides statistics and tools to analyse Australian and New Zealand Geocaches and Geocachers using details from several cache listing sites as well as providing a place for listing geocaches directly in any country around the world.
Degree Confluence Project,
The goal of the project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures, and stories about the visits, will then be posted here. Viewers are invited to post any of the existing confluence. Also, have a look at the antipodes, points on opposing sides of the world.