Monday, April 1, 2013

Dabbling in spatial technology for free

Related links
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

GeogSplace blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact:

Where am I??

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

Using free stuff!  Minimal outlay and maximum opportunity

Now there is a way to go for teachers and schools just wanting to play in the area of spatial technology before spending money. Here are just several of the options available to anyone wanting to get started using spatial technology.

Free site dedicated to help teachers educate and engage students using Google Earth.
GE Teach is designed by an teacher to bring geospatial technologies into the classroom in a way that is user-friendly. This site allows you to use Google Earth with clickable layers. With multiple data layers of physical and human geography variables, this interactive globe puts spatial information in powerful, yet fun, student-inspired platform. Video tutorial on how to use GE teach.

* Free ESRI software

In a previous Spatialworlds posting I pointed readers the way of ESRI's free downloadable software called AEJEE. Over the years this software, whilst limited and problematical with new Windows software, has provided a great free starting point for schools to dip their toe into the GIS waters and start on the GIS learning curve. AEJEE has now been superseded by ArcGIS Explorer Desktop which can be downloaded at
ESRI is the world leader in GIS (geographic information system) modeling and mapping software and technology.  
ArcGIS Explorer is not a full blown GIS software package but is a totally free GIS viewer, with basemaps and access to ArcGIS Online which provides an easy way to explore, visualise, and share GIS information (includes an interactive presentation capacity).
Before downloading ArcGIS Explorer you may need to update your computer by installing
Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 . This is not a difficult task and is available directly from the ESRI download page. I have found ArcGIS Explorer a fairly intuitive program to find your way around and 'help' support is available within the program (just click on the 'question mark' icon in the top right hand corner of the screen - see below).


The following links will also provide video instruction on how to use the program:

PS: If you can get your hands on the Mac version of AEJEE, it still works a treat on a Mac. As mentioned, the Windows version of AEJEE had considerable compatability issues which could only be overcome with quite a bit of tweaking - but could be overcome as discussed in a previous Spatialworlds posting.

GIS projects are also now available in ArcGIS online through an internet connection, an idea and a question. 
* Quantum GIS

This is another free GIS option (this one an open source option).   This is a full-blown GIS, with more mapping, editing and exporting options. Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). It runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows and Android and supports numerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities.

* More open source GIS sites Here are some more open-source GIS options that are free to download.

* ... and from National Geographic, a 1-page MapMaker facility

* ... and from Google Earth

Google Earth for educators: Google Earth has opened up potential for students in classrooms around the globe with its bird’s-eye view of the world. Whether you are a veteran teacher looking for new ways to teach old topics or you are a still an education student getting ready to make your debut in the classroom, these exciting ways to use Google Earth are sure to infuse your lessons with plenty of punch. Find ideas for any age student and a handful of virtual tours that will not only help you instruct your students, but might even teach you something along the way.

* ...and finally from Juicy Geography's Noel Jenkins, some ideas on using GIS in the classroom. Some great ideas.


No comments: