Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hurdles almost too high!

Left image: GIS students at a Washington School.
Right image: Students at work on GIS in a Toronto school, Canada.

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
Email contact

Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

We are not computer whizzes but…

Working with spatial technology can throw up some challenges for teachers who are not ICT experts, and that is plenty of us. Even if the teacher is very proficient at ‘driving’ the software, that does not mean that they have the ICT expertise to fix the engine when there are problems. Once we decide to play in the spatial technology space we come across issues and problems which need to be mastered, whether that is operating the platform or installing programs. I came across one such problem this week which I thought it worth sharing. It is such a simple thing for the ICT savvy but often a hurdle too high for the classroom teacher.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, it is good to start with a simple and free program such as ESRI AEJEE to get teachers, especially in the primary school, engaged with GIS. Good plan but… The problem was that I had no trouble installing the program on computers running Microsoft XP but it just did not happen when trying to install on Windows Vista or Windows 7. Naturally that was the operating software at the primary school I was working in and I had a problem! Nothing is ever simple and straightforward when working with ICT! After much trial and error I did get the program loaded and was able to help the teachers to get started with GIS. I hope this blog entry saves you the anguish and the hours we spent solving this problem. I am sure an ICT person would have solved it in no time but for many of us that person is not around or just not savvy with the uniqueness of GIS software. Having said that, an ICT person was brought into the school and could not get the program working – answer was that the program did not work on the school network! However I knew it would but how!!

Here is the story of how to get out of the ‘paper bag’ when installing the ESRI AEJEE software.

1. Problem: program installed perfectly on Windows XP and previous Windows versions. On Vista and Windows 7 it seemed to install OK but had no functionality – that is, could not get up Attribute Tables or do Thematic mapping etc (could only view Shapefiles). On Windows 7 the installing process happened but then nothing – no AEJEE program!

2. After many hours of installing and not getting the program functional, even after the computer said it was installed, I decided to go to the ESRI Education Blog.I then found a posting and chatter about how to load the program on Vista.

3. Why didn’t I do it 20 hours earlier? Anyway, it told me to right click the ‘Install’ icon and open the ‘Compatability’ tab.

“In the Compatibility tab, check the box next to “Run this program in compatibility mode for” and select "Windows XP Service Pack 2" (or 3) if you are loading on XP and "Windows 2000" or "Vista Service Pack 2" if you are loading on Windows 7 (using the pull-down menu to select). Click on OK.

4. Now to install. Double-click on the installer and use the installation wizard to install the program. When installation is complete, you will find AEJEE under All Programs > AEJEE.”

5. Now go to "All Programs", find the AEJEE program and on the AEJEE icon right click - select "Properties" and then select the "Compatibility" tab - again configure the “Run this program in compatibility mode for” to select Windows 2000 or the "Vista Service Pack 2" for Windows 7 and XP Service pack 2 or 3for XP.

6. Now just open up AEJEE and it should work. You may have to play with the choice of compatibility mode but I assure you it works.

All was a sensational success after these ‘teething problems’ and I now have 5 keen and enthusiastic teachers from F-7 at the primary school, proficient in using GIS via AEJEE and ready to do some great spatial technology work with their students using the draft Australian Curriculum: Geography (once it is released on October 10th). It will be interesting to see what they come up with as F-7 teachers using GIS in their classroom. However without someone to come in and solve the problem they may have never got past the installation stage! We need support for teachers to embark on the GIS learning curve within the education and curriculum setting.

I have already talked about this in previous blog postings – I am sure there will be plenty more to say as we enter the implementation stage of the Australian Curriculum: Geography.

This is just one example of ICT anxiety, expertise problems and hurdles almost too high! We must reduce the hurdles and provide support to make spatial technology such as GIS happen in the classroom.

Hope this blog entry helps those thinking of using the ESRI AEJEE program. Go to to download. This is just one of many frustrating stories I am sure – do they all have happy endings?

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