Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The phenomena of technology anxiety: sifting resources of worth

Left image: Protest American style, Washington, USA.
Right image: Pefect mountain scence in South Korea.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
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Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Addressing technology anxiety: sifting resources of worth

It never ceases to amaze me that spatial technology sites suitable for geographical education I have never seen keep turning up. The problem is not the dearth of sites but rather the need to just check out their quality and application potential. In fact, sifting through all the available sites can create a degree of technology anxiety amongst teachers who are searching with limited time for useful (and exciting) sites for their teaching. The anxiety grows considerably when the site is not user friendly (although disputed, some say that most people only want to click a maximum of 3 times before giving up on a site) or when the site requires downloading or locating plug-ins. I can feel the anxiety growing already!

It is important that as we seek resources for the Australian Curriculum: geography that someone – maybe Education Services Australia, jurisdictions or geography teachers associations- sift through the sites available free on the Internet and give a quality rating, provide an application guide, reduce the technology hurdles and provide guides to make it easier for teachers to access and use. We do not have to write new resources to any extent to service the new curriculum but just create a user friendly environment for teachers to use the plethora of great spatial technology sites (and other great geography sites) available to be used for free on the Internet. It is the application of these resources via quality geography pedagogy for the areas of study identified in the Australian Curriculum: geography that should be the focus of resource development – not the creation of new resources; they are already there in buckets! The last thing we want is for teachers not to engage in using spatial technology because they are overwhelmed by the number of sites to review and that they cannot see the forest for the trees! Technology anxiety must be averted by a considered and coordinated approach to the location and use of spatial technology and geography sites readily available for schools.

This posting just highlights a few of these wonderful sites which are perfect for exciting learning for students when the Australian Curriculum for geogrpahy is up and going.

1. Mapnificent is a useful and clever spatial technology site: Mapnificent is an application that shows the area one can reach with public transport from any point in a given time. Watch the video which explains the application

2. Mapumental is a realtime version of journey time maps.

3. OpenStreetMap creates and provides free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways.
OSM Australia is just a basic website to gather all the various Australian-related output from the OpenStreetMap project, and make it available from one place.

4. GeoCommons is the public community of GeoIQ users who are building an open repository of data and maps for the world. The GeoIQ platform includes a large number of features that empower you to easily access, visualize and analyze your data.

5. Quantum GIS is open source software available under the terms of the GNU General Public License

6. Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACS) site: Interesting spatial technology site regarding the volcanic ash hazard. Nine VAAC's have been designated by the International Civil Aviation Organization to provide their expertise to civil aviation in case of significant volcanic eruptions. They are a basic part of the IAVW(International Airways Volcano Watch). The area covered by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre includes Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and part of the Philippines. This area has seen some of the biggest eruptions known to history.

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