Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Spatial Industry link

Left image: National Geographic Channel Australian Geography Competition finals in Foxtel studios, June 2010.
Right image: Timber ready to be loaded at Lyttelton, New Zealand

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?

Canberra: S: 35º 15' E: 149º 08'

The Spatial Industry and Geography link - an imperative!
I am in Canberra today to attend the Surveying and Spatial Science Institutes (SSSI) Spatial Education Committee (SEAC). I have been a member of SEAC representing the Australian Geography Teacher Association (AGTA) since 2004. The SEAC is a sub –committee of the SSSI and has been established to coordinate and promote spatial education in Australian schools, TAFE and Universities.
The SSSI offers people working across the diverse nature of the surveying and spatial sciences industry a professional home i.e. remote sensing, photogrammetrists, cartographers, GIS technicians/consultants, hydrographic, land or engineering surveyors.
At today’s meeting Mark Sanders from ‘The Learning Federation’(TLF) outlined the TLF’s proposal for the development of a cutdown on-line GIS application. If given the go-ahead the application will be supported with on-line data. Other members of SEAC, PSMA and ANZLIC are interested in participating in the venture and exploring the options of partnership with TLF (now known as Education Services Australia - ESA). A decision on the proposal is expected soon. In the meantime the TLF is ready to launch its ‘Data Visualisation Genie’ on June 30th.
The meeting was also an opportunity for me to present information on the recently released (June 30th) draft Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) shape paper for geography. The paper is open for consultation until August 27th 2010. Naturally we are keen to have the spatial industry involved in the feedback and consultation on the paper to ensure that the curriculum reflects 21st Century technology as represented by the spatial industry and world class spatial analysis as required for the development of high quality spatial literacy in schools. SEAC considers it has a role in informing ACARA of the linkage between its industry and the world of geography in schools. To this end SEAC and it members have promised to provide feedback on the paper and write a letter to ACARA stating the importance of geography to the spatial industry and the need for the teaching of geography to be compulsory to Year 10. In particular SEAC and the bodies involved such as ANZLIC, Skills Councill of Australia and PSMA intend to highlight the shortage of qualified spatial scientists and technicians in Australia. In this fast growing industry there is a crisis in supply which seems to be ignored by the community and the eduction systems. There is an urgent need to develop skills and awareness in schools of the opportunities available in the spatial industry.
I hope this day in Canberra and the support garnered from the spatial industry will inform ACARA of the industrial and employment component of a comprehensive and quality delivery of an Australian curriculum for geography. Most importantly there is a need when one views and analysis the geography shape paper during the consultation period that it is through the lens of the needs of the spatial industry as well as for general educational worth.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just sites!

Left image: Into the London Underground at Kensington Station
Right image: Waterloo Station, London

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?

Sydney: S: 34º 0' E: 151º 0'

I thought it time for a posting where I just listed a whole lot of great websites which have been unearthed over recent months. Many of these have been dug up (sorry) by the incredibly active South African group of teachers who are part of the South African Geography Teachers' Google Group. The amount of traffic this group creates is amazing and certainly something to be admired - seems to be some very energetic and thinking geographers in South Africa. If you are interested in joining this group (be prepared for plenty of emails on all things geographical)just go to Other websites have been gleaned from a variety of sources. I have tried to do a brief summary with each and these are only what I have found the most interesting for geography teaching.

* Great old maps; discover the secrets within historical maps.

* Website library

* Lots of great geography and GIS resources.

* Cartography 2.0 is a free online knowledge base and e-textbook for students and professionals interested in interactive and animated maps.

* This video titled, “Lost Generation”was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. The contest was titled "u @ 50" by AARP. So simple and yet so brilliant.

* World clock of …… whatever!

* Free resources, ideas and lesson plans for teaching with technology This ‘Free technology for teacher’s’ website lists free interactive games and maps available on the Internet. These games can be good tools for students to use in developing their knowledge of geography. The ten websites listed on the site are places to find a variety of interactive geography games and interactive maps that will help students develop their knowledge of geography. The last item in the list is a resource for creating your own geography game.

* A useful resource providing 580 front pages from 55 countries. The Newseum displays these daily newspaper front pages in their original, unedited form. This Newspaper Map is great for current Geographical events. You just put your mouse on a city anywhere in the world and the newspaper front page pop up... The maps work according to regions. Double click and the page gets larger....apparently you can read the entire paper on some if you click on the right place.

* From Scotland (National Collection of Aerial Photography), some great aerial imagery for historical geography in particular (thanks to Bec Nicholas for passing this one on)

* Interactive images project from the UK

* It is worth looking at the exciting materials and buzz on the ‘Geography Teaching Today’ website in the UK.
There are sections on resources for:
* Early Years and Primary
* Middle Years
* Senior Years

* Preparing for the population explosion. In 2050, it is estimated that Australia's population will explode to 35 million, with the world's population set to top 90 billion.
But how are government organisations, businesses, scientists and environmentalists preparing to meet this demand?
Find out at how location intelligence is playing a key role in equipping our decision makers with comprehensive and accurate information to help better converse, sustain and manage the environmental challenges of a growing world.

* Pandemic planning
From swine flu and the SARS virus to localised legionnaires disease outbreaks, a year doesn't seem to pass without a serious epidemic. But how does the world react to control the spread? Get behind the scenes of how location intelligence is used for early detection, tracking, response and control of infectious disease outbreaks.

* Solve your complex vehicle routing problems. Did you know that you can dynamically model real road situations, including turn and height restrictions, speed limits and changing traffic conditions?

* The spatial round table forum Have your say on the hot topics in the spatial industry at . ESRI's Spatial Roundtable provides a great opportunity for you to share your points of view about concerns, trends, challenges, and technologies.

* This one is really just out there about motivation and purpose but worth a look - makes one think and apply to our own work situation if not classroom

* Something from National Geographic for the classroom activities.
Some really great online 'games' for a range of ages.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Putting Geography on the Map: The UK experience

Left image: April 2010 GA Conference in Derby UK
Right image:Stonehenge, Salisbury, UK.

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?

Sydney: S: 34º 0' E: 151º 0'

On April I was fortunate to travel to Derby in the UK to attend the Geography Associations (GA) annual conference. What a wonderful experience to meet such a wide range of geography teachers and to experience the magnitude of this annual event. In this posting I will just select some of the gems of quotes, websites and impression I gleaned from this two day event.
The conference was held at Derby University and was the home to over 300 teachers for the duration of the conference. The size and capacity of an organisation such as the GA means that the level of support they provide geography teachers in the UK is beyond anything we cold dream about in Australia. Having said that, organisations such as AGTA and it affiliates in each state do a wonderful job in supporting quality geography teaching and geography teachers. As you may know, the GA in association with the Royal Geographical Society in the UK have had a huge infusion of government funds over recent years via the Geography Action Plan. Components of this plan we should consider as we develop our own plan in Australia to support the development and implementation of the Australian Curriculum in Geography. AGTA is presently lobbying the Australian Government with ideas and strategies to support professional learning for teachers in Australia. Most importantly the opportunity provided by attending the conference allowed me to talk to key players in the UK national curriculum such as Professor David Lambert and Dr Rita Gardner.
Over the course of the conference several quotes and references from people such as David and Rita resonated with me and I feel should be incorporated into our work on the Australian Curriculum: geography over the coming years. Here are some of my observations:

* The catch cry of geography promotion: “Putting Geography on the Map” . (David Lambert keynote title, Derby 2010). Corny but says it all! Here are some other quotes from David’s GA keynote April 2010
* “Geography is about stimulating a sense of wonder about places.”
* “Geography is one of humanities "BIG IDEAS”
* “Geographers are experts in global dimensions.”
* “ A key role of geographical education is to promote social and community cohesion through understanding of the human and physical world. Does this approach resonate better than talk of geography promoting citizenship?
* “Sell learning geographically and not just geography.”
* Geography is about what is where? Why is it there? what if? and so what?

Here are some other information/ideas/sites I gleaned from the conference:

* Beware of the “Death Geographies!” The geographies of the doomsdayers.
* “How does thinking geographies help us live?
* “To see that geography is beyond atlas’s, places and colouring-in!”
* The “Geography Teaching Today” is a website full of teaching ideas for primary and secondary.
* The concept of “curriculum making” instead of “curriculum taking”. Incredibly pertinent to the role out of the Australian curriculum I geography in 2012
* Making Geography happen: Making Geography Happen is an Action Plan funded project about good quality, innovative curriculum-making. It focuses on the work done by students in geography lessons and how this contributes to their wider understanding of the world.
* The UK Geography “Action Plan” – can we do a similar thing in Australia, albeit on a smaller scale.
* “The Action Plan emphasises ‘curriculum making’ as a creative professional process.“
* The “Geography Manifesto – “A Different View” is an interesting sitedeveloped by the GA which provides the blueprint for geography in the UK. A Different View is a manifesto from the Geographical Association. It makes a compelling case for geography's place in the curriculum. But the world changes, and so does the curriculum. A Different View, and the supporting materials on this website, are designed to be used in any context where geography is taught, explained, encouraged or promoted. Free accompanying resources and photographs can be downloaded from this site.
* Simon Catling’s Work are worthy of consideration. The children’s world is actually 10 worlds (Simon Catling 1992). In his book Simon indentifies 10 World of the child. They are:
• action world
• perceived world
• people world
• information world
• competence world
• valued world
• imaginary world
• source world
• future world
• commitment world.
Considering these worlds of a child, what do they mean to the way we select content, classroom pedagogy and the conceptualization of the curriculum for students. It can be argued to varying extents that these worlds apply to all students regardless of age.
* The big ideas of geography includes Place, Space and Scale.
* Think-talk-solve-act-global
An initiative to help to teach about some of the world's biggest poverty related challenges. In its pilot stage, the network includes teaching resources and a forum for you to meet and collaborate with other education professionals
* Thinking geographically:
Whether you are interested in primary, middle or secondary education, you will find something useful and enriching on this site.
* The GA is an independent charity with a core objective of furthering the learning and teaching of geography. The GA promoThe GA is an independent charity with a core objective of furthering the learning and teaching of geography. The GA promotes and supports geography teaching by producing acclaimed resources for teachers, holding quality CPD events and lobbying government. GA supports geography teaching by producing acclaimed resources for teachers, holding quality CPD events and lobbying government.
* Spatial literacy: an interesting PowerPoint to help clarify it’s role on geography
* The ABC of Spatial literacy – an interesting article
* Mission explore Misson Explore is a project to engage (young) people with geography through playful and thought provoking missions.
* Independent Thinking is one of UK's leading providers of people, knowledge, ideas and inspiration to help make a genuine and lasting difference to education.
* Spatial literacy in primary schools
* A quest for spatial literacy
* A bit of fun for geography classes: Mat dancing around the world Youtube. Where is Mat now –dancing where??

Finally I would like to thank the GA for their support facilitating the process for me to present a workshop at their great conference and to participate in the associated events. Great food for thought for us in Australia interested and involved in introducing an Australian Curriculum for geography.