Friday, December 2, 2011

SA Geographers, not South Australian!

Left image: Student working on a SA Spatial technology site. South Australian as opposed to South African!
Right image: A piece of farming history on Goyders line - the margins of the good earth in South Australia.

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'

Connection with South African geographers via Google Groups

After meeting geography teacher, Bridget Fleming from South Africa in 2009, I have been a member of the South African Google Group. This group of inspiring and committed geography teachers in South Africa has been the source of many great spatial links which I have included in this Spatialworlds blog. If you want to join the group go to
Everytime I see an SA addressed email from the group come in I think it is something South Australian ... but it is from our South African colleagues. Must be terribly confusing for the postal services having two countries being SA! Be aware that there is quite a bit of “chatter” with the group, much not that relevant to those outside of South Africa, but the group does supply some great Internet links and provides a real insight into an active geographical education community doing their best to keep pace with the ever-changing world of geography.
Here are just some of the latest links that I was sent from the group.

Where in the World? A Google Earth Puzzle
Some amazing images from Google Earth – fantastic examples of patterns and trending for spatial analysis. Looking at the world through Google Earth offers striking images of the diversity of our planet and the impact that humans have had on it. The site finds some great images and then challenges visitors to figure out where in the world each of the images is taken. North is not always up in the pictures, and, apart from a bit of contrast, they are unaltered images provided by Google and its mapping partners. You make your guesses, and see the score at the end of looking and guessing.

A great website for contour lines.
Contour maps of South African dams. Although maps/images of South African locations, this site is a great example of the practical recreational use of spatial technology. A dream site for the South African fisherperson and boatie.

Fun with projections
What your favourite projection says about you?

Spatial Reference website- Topographic Maps in South Africa
This service provides access to about 1600 topographic maps covering most of South Africa. These maps are electronic copies of the 1:50000 scale topographic maps. Detail such as road networks, contours and spot heights, trig beacons, land use definition (residential, nature reserves, plantations, industrial), farm boundaries, some services, dams and rivers are available on the maps making it useful for surveyors, town planners, engineers, navigation, flight planning, geography, etc...

Weather animations
A useful collection of animations to support the teaching of climate and weather.

Images from the NASA Earth Observatory
* An image everyday. Have a look at the image for today at

*Also check out the image galleries for topics such as natural hazards, human presence etc.

* Worth also looking at the global maps while on the site

This information is not from SA but from the US - Well worth considering.

Teaching with GIS: Introduction to Using GIS in the Classroom
Three free ESRI authored web courses of one hour duration. The ESRI website says:

"Today's students embrace technology outside the classroom, and, when used effectively, technology is an excellent tool to engage students inside the classroom as well. This course presents strategies for integrating GIS to support instruction, discussion, and extended learning on any topic. You will learn how to create and use GIS maps as a framework for understanding the geographic context of current and historical events and phenomena and exploring issues of interest to your local community. Many practical ideas for GIS activities that enhance student learning and critical thinking skills are shared."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Everyone is a Geographer!

Left image: Rural landscape from the air, Port Lincoln, South Austraia.
Right image: Early morning over Hobart, Tasmania.

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'

The impact of the Geospatial Revolution on geography in the community

How amazing is the Geospatial Revolution? Everyone I now is a geographer via the use of Google Earth, Google maps etc on their computer/iPad and the use of the plethora of Apps on their iPhones. People who say they know nothing about geography or spatial technology are in fact, the users of spatial technology, appliers of geographic skills and acquirers of geographic knowledge. This indeed is a revolution!! In this posting, first of many I think, I will identify some of my favourite geography orientated apps and those of others. Where will it stop, this Geospatial Revolution?

Apps you must have!!

To find the app listed below just go to the App Store on the iPhone or your computer and search.

Most of those listed are free or only 99 cents. Great value to play by oneself or adapt as a classroom activity using your SmartBoard or other sharing devices.

* Living Earth HD
A world clock, weather and alarm all in one. Includes a stunning live 3D simulation of the Earth.

Gives you access to the iPhone’s GPS functionality. Includes street and topographic maps.

* Global Navigator
GPS navigation all over the world using Google Map with up to date maps and satellite images.

* iMapMyRUN and iMapMyRIDE
Map your run, ride and workout – logs distance, route, calories, elevation and much more. A runners best friend!! Voice prompts give you updates on your progress.

* GolfLogix: Golf GPS
Maps your game on the course, providing course imagery and tracking.

* Navfree GPS Live Australia and New Zealand
A navigation app that offers turn-by-turn navigation using high quality open-source map data.

* MetroView GPS Navigation
A complete Turn-By-Turn Navigation solution with Speed Alert.

* World Geography Trivia
Geography trivia with animations and sounds.

* Geogame World Series
The ultimate geography game to test your knowledge and help you learn.

* World Countries ALL-IN-ONE
19 educational geographic apps in one app: Countries factbooks, Wikitravel, phots, news and much more.

* iWorldQuiz
You are given a location to find and after guessing you will be scored according to speed and accuracy.

* Where Around The World
The goal of this app is to chase down and catch criminals by solving geography trivia clues and mini-puzzles.

* The Amazing Hunt Around the World
A puzzle game to solve real world puzzles and riddles by visiting real-world scary locations.

Maps come to life using ArcGIS online – a great way to discover and use maps.

* Quakefeed – World Earthquakes
Using ESRI base maps, see the earthquakes of the past 7 days with a magnitude greater than 2.5.

* Maps+
Browse Google maps to find out where you are, search the map, get directions with route alternatives, use location alarms etc.

* City Walks
Maps of 470 cities worldwide.

* History: Maps of World
A fun and educational collection of high resolution historical maps.

* Around me
Enables you to quickly find out information about your surroundings.

* World MapView
Up-to date World Maps on the iPhone.

* Your World
This app challenges you to learn where the countries of the world are located by placing them onto a 3D earth.

* Toilet Map (one of many around the world)
This app shows you where the closest toilet is to your location in London.

Thanks to Roger and Anita for the following apps – their favourites on their GISetc website

* SkySafari
The basic version of SkySafari 3 shows you 120,000 stars, plus 220 of the best-known star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies in the sky. It displays the Solar System’s major planets and moons using NASA spacecraft imagery, and includes the best-known asteroids and comets.

* Oh! Ranger
Although American in content it is a great App as an example of the power of spatial technology. “Oh, Ranger!" is a virtual guide to the outdoors.

* Geo Walk – 3D World Fact Book
Let’s say you want to find out what there is to know about Africa. Spin the globe until you find it and you will see African sights only. If you are interested in architectural wonders of the world – category filter will help! Try the Quiz afterwards to feel that you are getting smarter by the minute!

* Skyview
Skyview is a stargazing app that implements augmented reality to “explore the universe.”

* Geology AZ is the Arizona version of the first GIS (geographical information system) for the iPhone. This initial release focuses on the geology of the Grand Canyon state, and related data.

* iRecycle
Recycling is the easiest and most accessible way to get people plugged into sustainability.

* Project Noah
Project Noah’s ultimate goal is to build the go-to platform for documenting all the world’s organisms and through doing this we hope to develop an effective way to measure Mother Nature’s pulse.

* My Radar
This free radar app will center over your location and provide you with accurate, real time weather scans.

This listing is really just the tip of the “app iceberg”. The potential for the teaching of geography in the classroom (and student homework) is unlimited. The iPhone apps related to geography, which are many, is a gift for the geography teacher wanting to engage students in geographical skills and thinking. Why not use what is second nature for students, their iPhone. In fact, as I mentioned earlier in the posting, our community has become geographically/spatially literate via Google Maps/Earth and the iPhone apps without realising it - this includes students in geography classes, no longer satisfied with hand-drawn maps and black-line master.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Opening up the open source option!

Images: Student 3D work using ArcView 3x

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'

Open Source GIS, which one??

Access to software such as open source (the license shall not require a royalty or other fee), is becoming a viable alternative for schools to expensive stand-alone vendor products. In previous Spatialworlds posting we have highlighted the availability of free GIS on-line products such as ESRI ArcGIS on-line , Spatial Genie , QGIS and GRASS.

It seems that on a monthly basis the number of such software choices is growing. Basic GIS open source programs can provide basic GIS functionality, including data input, map display, spatial query, attribute query and spatial analysis. There are also open source programs for remote sensing and 3D visualization.

In this posting I wish to highlight the importance of this trend to the achievability of using GIS in the classroom and some of the open source products I have not previously mentioned. An excellent spatial blog from Direction Magazine is planning to review many of these on-line open source GIS platforms in coming months. It is worth keeping an eye on this site if you are considering exploring the option of open source GIS.

These programs are proving to be popular for a range of reasons:
* they are a real option for the teacher who would like to explore the possibility of teaching GIS but does not have immediate financial support from their school to purchase GIS software.
* the software is an excellent option if students would like to install and try GIS software on their home computers.
* the immediacy of such software is attractive for the teacher who would like to use GIS with their students tomorrow (commercial GIS software will require more than one week to finalize the licensing with vendors. You can download and use open source software immediately).
* it is the way to go for schools with computers that are using non-Windows operating systems, such as MacOSX or Linux

Here are a few of the open source options we have not previously discussed.

* uDig is an open source desktop application framework, built with Eclipse Rich Client (RCP) technology. The uDig program can be downloaded from the site, as can free data and walk throughs to support the use of the program.

* gvSIG is another open source geographic information system (GIS), that is a desktop application designed for capturing, storing, handling, analyzing and deploying any kind of referenced geographic information in order to solve complex management and planning problems. gvSIG is known for having a user-friendly interface, being able to access the most common formats, both vector and raster ones. It features a wide range of tools for working with geographic-like information (query tools, layout creation, geoprocessing, networks, etc).

* The OpenGeo Suite combines the power of open source plus the reliability and support of a single, stable vendor behind a full stack of software. The OpenGeo Suite offers a fully-integrated open source geospatial platform for serving maps and data through web applications, mobile devices, and desktop clients. The OpenGeo Suite Enterprise Edition is comprised of tested, integrated and supported geospatial components GeoServer, OpenLayers, GeoWebCache, PostGIS and GeoExt

* GISVM is a free and ready to use anywhere Geographic Information System Virtual Machine. It is now available in three main versions; A full-feature GIS Desktop Workstation, a base GIS Desktop Virtual Machine and a full-feature GIS Server based exclusively on free Server GIS software:

The Open Source Foundation

While talking about open source GIS it is worth mentioning the Open Source Software for Geospatial initiative organized by Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). This is a foundation created to support the collaborative development of open source geospatial software, and promote its widespread use. The recent 2011 FOSS4G conference in Denver was focused on free and open source geospatial software. Open source is becoming so popular that the list of FOSS4G sponsors has been growing rapidly. Sponsors today include names such as ESRI, Google, MapQuest and USGIF.

I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg and in the future (if not already), open source software will be the way to go for GIS in schools.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AGTA 2013: It's all happening!

Left image:Yorke Peninsula, South Australia.
Right Image: Adelaide coastline, South Australia.

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'

“Without geography, the world would be a mystery to us.”
David Lambert CEO, Geography Association of the UK

In regards to curriculum, David Lambert writes:

“A curriculum shaped by whim, the topics in the news and contemporary themes of "relevance" - or, worse still, policy imperatives laid down by the Government - is likely to be incoherent, shallow and like junk food: deeply unsatisfying after the initial fat and sugar rush.
A person growing up in the 21st century as a global citizen (and all that implies) is at a disadvantage without geographical knowledge - economically, culturally and politically. How can we make any of the personal decisions that already confront us every day about energy, food and water security without geographical knowledge? Understanding geographical perspectives contributes to our capabilities as educated individuals and members of society.”

Why am I quoting David Lambert? It seems like yesterday that I was talking about AGTA 2011 and the arrival of Dr Rita Gardner, Director of the RGS to be our keynote.

Well time has moved forward and we are now well into planning for AGTA 2013 in Perth, Western Australia. Only last night I got the good news that David Lambert and Simon Catling have accepted AGTA’s invitation to be keynotes at AGTA 2013.

As some of the most respected and influential educators in the area of school geography, I thought it worth profiling them in this posting and commence my work convincing anyone who visits this blog to get to Perth in January 2013 to join us at AGTA 2013 – it should be a great experience in many ways.

The Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) conference for 2013, known as AGTA 2013 is to be held in Perth from January 7-10, 2013. For more information on the conference and expressions of interest to present just go to the AGTA site at

So why David and Simon as keynotes? I think the background on them that follows speaks for itself. Their CV’s shows that with both presenting, AGTA 2013 covers the needs of geography from F-12 in a way that maybe previous conference neglected.

With the Australian Curriculum: Geography being written and to be implemented for all years from F-12, then we must tackle the challenges of primary implementation. It is hoped that this broader focus for AGTA 2013 will attract primary educators who may have seen the work of AGTA in the past secondary-centric. With the investment in bringing Simon, a primary geography educator of enormous influence and David, one who has been intimately involved in the implementation of the UK National Curriculum for Geography from Reception to Year 12, we hope this view may change for this conference.

Professor David Lambert

In his book, “Global Perspectives in the Geography Curriculum”, David said:

“a decline in the subject's popularity in the early 1990s prompted attempts to make geography more 'relevant' to pupils.”

In many ways this has been David’s mission as he has guided the work of the GA in the UK - with considerable success.

These quotes from a recent article by David in the Telegraph are worth highlighting here to give a taste of the inspiring talk we will hear in Perth in 2013;

“Geography is the subject that contributes more than any other to young people’s knowledge of the world. Geography is not just important on its own account. It is a linking discipline, connecting to science, to the arts, to history and languages. In primary schools where geography in strong, the subject can help to knit the curriculum together as well as satisfy pupils' curiosity about people and places. In senior schools, geography offers the opportunity to develop a broader and very contemporary skill-set. It also helps many students to keep their options open, rather than having to narrow their courses down to either the sciences or the arts. Geography straddles both, using diverse sources and data, and asking challenging and engaging questions about the change pupils can see in the world around them.
In schools where geography teaching is weak – and especially where it is handled by non-specialists – children are denied these crucial elements of a broad and balanced education that will benefit them throughout their lives. Instead, they will have a narrower conception of the world, and will have missed out on the fieldwork that could teach them about the power of learning directly in particular places and environments.
In the end, geography isn't just about reciting a list of capital cities – although that can be an impressive party trick. It is the subject that contributes more than any other to young people's knowledge of the world, their understanding of the relationships between people and places, and their ability and propensity to think critically and creatively about the ways in which we affect the planet we live on.”

So who is David Lambert?

Professor David Lambert was a comprehensive school geography teacher before joining the Institute of Education in 1987. In 2002 he became Chief Executive of the Geographical Association, helping guide its development as a significant provider of CPD and a leader in funded curriculum development activity. From September 2007, he has combined this role with a return to the Institute of Education as Professor of Geography Education. His writing and research are concerned with curriculum development and assessment, and his overarching goal is to advance understanding of the role of geography in schools in relation to broad educational purposes
Of particular significance to our work with the Australian Curriculum: Geography is David’s thinking and work in his book “Teaching Geography 11-18: A Conceptual Approach”.

"This is a must read for all 11-18 geography educators. It argues for a new geography curriculum founded on a set of major concepts that are profoundly relevant to 21st century life. For years, books on 11-18 geography education have focussed on classroom techniques, new pedagogic technologies and alternative modes of student assessment.. It asks not only what geography is for, but bases its answer on a set of key concepts able to sustain an exciting and relevant curriculum. ".
Professor Noel Castree, University of Manchester, UK

This engaging and stimulating book from David aims to radically re-shape and sharpen debates in geography education by asking several key questions:
• What is the place of geography within the secondary school curriculum?
• To what extent does school geography reflect and engage with contemporary issues and theories from the wider subject?
• What are the issues, challenges and opportunities of a concept-led approach to teaching geography?
• What are the implications of ICT, media and technology for the future of geography teaching in schools?

These are questions that we in Australia developing the Australian Curriculum: Geography consistently ask. David has said to me that there are strong parallels between what they have been through with the National Curriculum for Geography in the UK and what we are presently immersed in with ACARA in Australia. His keynote I am sure will be a highlight at the conference and will further inform our approaches as we head towards the implementation stage in 2013.

I can’t resist putting this quote as a footnote to my comments on David.

"If we think education in its broadest sense is important, then geography is important too. Thinking geographically helps us understand ourselves in the world... or, as our manifesto says, helps us travel with a different view. If geography, as it is laid out in the manifesto, were not part of the curriculum then we'd risk turning out young people who were only partially educated."
- July 2009

Professor Simon Catling

Simon is the Professor in Primary Education in the School of Education - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Simon's academic and research interests are:
Young children’s geographies and their relationship to geographical education.
• Younger children’s ideas about geography.
• Geographical education and curriculum development in the Foundations Stage and Primary School curriculum.
• The representation of geography in commercial books on geography published for younger children.
• Student teachers’ geographical knowledge, understanding, values and attitudes.
• The role and value of geography professional learning for primary teachers.
Simon has written much on the subject of geography and map learning for teachers and children.

Simon’s specialist interest is in children’s geographical learning , a unique endeavour in the geographical education world and one which deserves continued attention. Recognised as the world leader in this area we are certainly fortunate to have Simon as our keynote at AGTA 2013. I plan to write more in reference to Simon's work and primary school geography in coming months.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A vision by the system: visualising data

Left image, Mt Wellington early morning, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
Right Image: Constitution Dock, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

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'

A systems initiative to support data visualization in the classroom

Last week I attended another Education Services Australia (ESA) Data Visualisation Workshop in Melbourne. This is the fourth workshop I have been involved with on this ESA project to create a platform and resources for teachers to use in the classroom whilst teaching topics/subjects requiring the use, analysis and visualisation of data. This is a highly significant initiative for the area of spatial education because of the projects promotion of grahicacy, data visualization and the use of spatial technology in our schools. The system 'buy-in' to the area many of us have been working on for years will be a great catalyst for the diffusion of the skills, tools and analysis of spatial literacy in our schools. Whilst interested in the data aspect of the project, my major interest in the project is the development by the education bureaucracy in Australia of a spatial platform with supporting spatial data for use in the classroom. As mentioned before, Data Genie and Spatial Genie are now operational on the Internet and teachers are able to access the program and associated data for classroom use. The workshop was attended by data and spatial education relevant learning area representatives and institutions such as the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, Academy of Science, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSRIO), Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), representatives from jurisdictions such as myself and Queensland Education, ESA and ACARA. I was also at the meeting representing AGTA, as was Mick Law from the Queensland Geography Teachers' Association. The workshop was aimed at outlining ESA’s plans to develop on-line professional learning resources for teachers and to develop learning infrastructures and resources around key spatial and data Internet sites. Most importantly, the resources are to be linked directly into the Australian Curriculum for History, Mathematics, Science and Geography through the Australian Curriculum Connect project. Interestingly it was commented by the ESA representatives at the meeting that there are hardly any geography learning objects available through delivery systems such as Scootle and that this is an area where there needs to be significant investment over the next 18 months. Work was also conducted on further development on the functionality of Spatial Genie and what else needs to be done to develop strategic partnerships with and between ESA and spatial software providers.

Whilst the day was interesting to explore issues of resource development and preferred pedagogies using data, I was particularly interested in some of the spatial sites demonstrated by Michael Gehling, ESA project officer for this initiative. Here are some of the sites providing free platforms, data sources and spatial representations that may be of interest to the spatial educator;

* Tableausoftware
A great resource to help people see and understand data.
Free trial

* Atlas of Living Australia
The Atlas of Living Australia is a joint initiative to build a national database of our flora and fauna. The project brings together a huge array of information on Australia’s biodiversity, accessible through a single website. Partners in this collaborative project include CSIRO, museums, herbaria, other biological collections, the Australian Government and the community.

* Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science
The Land Use of Australia, Version 4, 2005-06, is a land use map of Australia for the year 2005-06. The non-agricultural land uses are drawn from existing digital maps covering six themes: topographic features, catchment scale land use, protected areas, world heritage areas, tenure and forest cover.

* Australian Natural Resources Data Library and Atlas
The Australian Natural Resources Atlas was developed by the National Land and Water Resources Audit to provide online access to information to support natural resource management. The Atlas is managed and maintained within the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. The Atlas comprises of a number of tools and information on Australia's natural resources:
• Australia's Resources Online: Generate a report containing the latest available data on Australia's natural resources against the Natural Resource Management Monitoring and Evaluation framework.
• Map Maker: View and query the data from the Atlas or make a map of a region of interest
The information in the Atlas is organised by topic and geography. There are eleven topics to choose from in the Atlas:
• Agriculture: agricultural resources
• Coasts: coastal environments.
• Dryland salinity: causes and impacts of dryland salinity
• Irrigation: sustainable irrigation
• Land: land resources
• Natural resource economics: economics and natural resource management
• People: Australians and the management of natural resources
• Rangelands: monitoring the status and trends in the rangelands
• Soils: Australian soil properties
• Vegetation and biodiversity: biological resources
• Water: use, availability, quality and management
With maps and data scattered throughout, this is a great site for the geographer. The social atlas is particular useful for the geographer

* Mapserver
MapServer is an Open Source platform for publishing spatial data and interactive mapping applications to the web. Download at

* Google Fusion Tables
Gather, visualize and share your data online
Google Fusion Tables is a modern data management and publishing web application that makes it easy to host, manage, collaborate on, visualize, and publish data tables online. Visualize and publish your data as maps, timelines and charts, host your data tables online and combine data from multiple people.
Have a look at the Google Fusion Example gallery to see the potential of this free site.

* uDig
uDig is an open source (LGPL) desktop application framework, built with Eclipse Rich Client (RCP) technology. Just download the platform at and use the Quick start to get underway.

* Grass GIS
Commonly referred to as GRASS, this is free Geographic Information System (GIS) software used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics/maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization. GRASS is currently used in academic and commercial settings around the world, as well as by many governmental agencies and environmental consulting companies.

* Data Worldbank
Browse, map, graph, or download data by country, topic on over 4000 indicators. A rich source of spatial data.

* Sentinel site: Bushfire warning live by GIS
A site from Geoscience Australia with layers that can be manipulated, topographic down to 250K topo and Bureau of Meteorology Infrared layers. KML files can also be downloaded to use in Google Earth.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Playing with profiling

Images: Granite Island, Victor Harbor, South Australia.

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

Profiling the ‘GIS friendly teacher’

In previous postings I have explored the factors which are impeding the use of GIS in the classroom. Many of the factors such as data availability, software cost, network capacity and curriculum materials have been overcome in recent years. Basically I have surmised that the one remaining factor which is holding back the introduction of spatial technologies such as GIS in schools is ‘teacher factor’. In no way do I wish to be negative towards our teaching colleagues but when one considers the ease at which students pick up GIS, the only remaining impediment in many cases is the capacity and inclination of teachers to learn, feel comfortable with and integrate spatial technology into their teaching. One of the recommendations from my Churchill Fellowship report in 2007 was the suggestion that we need to build a profile for the 'GIS friendly teacher' so as to be able to identify the teachers most likely to take on the seemingly ominous learning curve to learn and integrate spatial technology into their teaching. I consider that such a profile is an important planning component as we develop face-face professional learning and professional on-line resources for teachers to support the introduction of GIS as one of the key skills of the Australian Curriculum: Geography.

It must be stated that the data acquisition, data retrieval, file management demands, often unforgiving procedures (no undo icon) and the multiplicity of functionality of the GIS software and processes makes it a unique type of technology and a demanding and risky business for teachers considering using GIS in the classroom setting.

In this posting I hope to flesh this out a bit more. Please note that these are only my observations of GIS friendly teachers after years working with and encouraging teachers to engage with spatial technology in their classroom – not based in research at all. I am sure such teacher profiling is a much needed structured study by some doctoral student somewhere in the world. A quantitative profiling study of GIS early adopters certainly would be useful to inform our work in this area in the future.

So what, according to my anecdotal and qualitative data, is the profile of the teacher most likely to be innovative and committed to use spatial technology in their classroom? Let’s for just a while forget about all the technical reasons that are put forward to explain the slow uptake of GIS in the classroom and let’s look at the very human personality traits of teachers which we must work with to make GIS in the classroom happen.

A GIS friendly teacher is:

• confident in their geographical thinking and understanding of geographical concepts
• one who needs to explore new ways for students to learn and grow
• committed to develop as a professional and learn ‘state of the art’ technology for learning in their area of study
• prepared to spend time on a regular basis to learn GIS over an extended time period
• prepared to develop a rudimentary understanding of the functional skills of GIS – either by following ‘how to do’ resources or attending professional learning activities on GIS
• able to spend time with students to develop core GIS skills and understandings so as to provide a foundation for using the technology
• prepared to be seen as not knowing the answer
• not afraid to be seen as making a mistake – a risk taker in the eyes of students and not the font of all knowledge
• comfortable with group work and a peer support ethos in their classroom
• prepared to reward student initiative and innovation – not always saying what is next – students have a degree of empowerment, often acted out as negotiating the curriculum processes
• comfortable to encourage students to find the solution/s and way forward when ‘stuck’ – not relying on the teacher to know the answer
• willing to let go of the talk and chalk approach and let students find out for themselves
• committed to learning through doing - using GIS as experiential learning
• aware of GIS applications in the real world, knows the relevance of GIS to society and can translate industry applications of GIS to classroom practice
• prepared to justify and even demand the use of ICT facilities in their school
• able to integrate the use of GIS into many areas of the curriculum they deliver – not an add-on but an integrative tool in their classroom
• prepared to engage the community and local area with the use of GIS in their classroom – they see a real world practical application of the technology for their students and classroom
• one who sees themselves as the facilitator of the learning process using GIS, to guide student reflection and analysis when using GIS
• prepared to be flexible, willing to change processes and direction in-tune with the capacity of the software i.e. being prepared to change and adapt when the software is not performing adequately or new potential of the software is discovered
• not constrained or compliant with system demands in terms of curriculum coverage or testing imperatives – an individual prepared to be a risk taker
• prepared to change pedagogy and approaches and move out of their comfort zone. Some would say that the use of a technology such as GIS is pedagogical change ‘through the back door.”
• one who sees the use of GIS as non-negotiable if we are teaching 21st Century geography.

In short, the GIS friendly teacher is one who is committed to classroom and pedagogical change, able to see the real world relevance of the software to their learning area and students, prepared to learn to use the software beyond the cursory and willing to take a risk in the classroom.

As a posting my comments are generalisations and are in no way saying that to teach with GIS a teacher must be all of the above or even most of the above. Again, from my observations I do say that there are some commonalities between teachers who have been the early adopters with the use of spatial technology. Teacher uptake is certainly not based on age, socio-economic status of the student group, educational qualifications of the teacher, wealth of the school or other factors which are often identified as reasons for the embracing of various educational practices. I think it really comes down to the personality profile of the teacher and their comfort in particular pedagogical approaches using this unique software. The risk-taking innovative teacher prepared to change their pedagogy seems to be the profile. In fact, such a profile could be the case for any teacher prepared to move out of their comfort zone and embrace change. With GIS this change capacity is even further accentuated by the demands of the unique software and the implications for pedagogy the use of GIS demands.

Addressing this impediment is a tough one for those saying that GIS is a skill and tool that must be integrated into a 21st Century Geography curriculum. Awareness of the profile of the ‘GIS friendly teacher’ is important when we design programs to help all teachers be prepared to embark on the GIS learning curve and use GIS in their classroom. We need to design ‘smart’ professional learning and resources to support the ‘GIS friendly’ and ‘non-GIS friendly’ profiled teachers. We need to use the ‘GIS friendly’ early adopter teachers in this work to bring others along on the journey. For those who have made the journey and are using GIS in their classroom, there is no looking back. These teachers often say to me that they “could not imagine teaching geography without using spatial technology.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our US GIS colleagues

Left image: Emus in a creek, Flinders Ranges, South Australia.
Right image: Rural South Australia, 100 kilometres North of Adelaide.

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'

In this posting I will profile the GIS site of Anita and Roger Palmer, GIS specialists in Dallas and good friends of Australian geography and geographers. Over the years Roger and Anita have been regular attendees at Australian Geography conferences and have been extremely supportive and innovative drivers of GIS in schools through the development of learning resources and workshops. The workshops they conduct when they visit are always “state of the art” and inspiring to those who attend. Back in 2007 I had the good fortune to spend several days with Roger and Anita visiting schools in the Dallas area. It was great to see the practical and real use of GIS in the classrooms we visited.

Roger and Anita also offer GIS Institutes annually with participants coming from the United States, Canada, England, and New Zealand. GISetc has developed a training model that is effective for beginners to advanced users of computer technology in geospatial and general technologies. I
I see that another of our US GIS colleagues, Barbaree Ash Duke is also a contributor to the site. Barbaree does some great work concerning GIS in the classroom and has a great blog called “GIS in Education and Curriculum Integration”. Barbaree’s blog is certainly worth following to go through her substantial archive.

Their website, is full of resources and good ideas to support the use of spatial technology in the classroom. As they say on the site, the mission of is to:

“provide cutting-edge GIS professional development, curriculum and software support to K-12 and post-secondary educators and students. Our goal is to advance education, improve quality of curricula, provide authentic research and learning projects, and to provide teacher training and skill development in an atmosphere of discovery.”

It certainly lives up to this aim by providing links to:

*free resources

* GIS games and fun

* Conference presentations

* GIS Happenings

* Books and resources via the shop

I have just highlighted a few of the free resource links from the site here to give a taste of the sites value to the GIS interested.

* Scary maps

* Exploring super cities

* 7 Million people

* Cartography and Indiana Jones

* Last month the extent of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean declined to the second-lowest extent on record. Review satellite data from NASA, watch videos and read about the phenomenon.

I look forward to report more on Anita and Roger’s site in the future.

Monday, October 31, 2011

It keeps on coming!

Left image: Bridge over the Derwent River, Hobart, Tasmania.
Right image: Perth across the Swan River, Western Australia.

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'

It keeps on coming! Platforms, data and curriculum materials for using GIS in the classroom

Increasingly GIS platforms, data and curriculum materials are becoming available to support the use of GIS in the classroom. Some of the following are free on the Internet or available from Geography Teachers’ Associations in Australia for very reasonable prices to support teachers in introducing practical applications of GIS in the classroom. Add recent Spatialworlds postings on Spatial Genie and Arc GIS-online, it is becoming obvious that it is not due to lack or cost of software, data or teaching materials why GIS is not used widely in our schools. As resources and platforms keep coming available for teachers, it seems that the only thing holding back universal implementation of GIS classrooms across Australia is the need for professional learning to build teacher capacity to use this amazing software. This will be the task for us over coming years I am sure.

* Quantum GIS (QGIS)

I have been increasingly hearing about this free GIS platform - it is worth a look for thsoe interested in looking around for a free GIS software option to meet their needs. Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a powerful and user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) that runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, and Windows. QGIS supports vector, raster, and database formats. QGIS is licensed under the GNU Public License.
The current version of QGIS 1.7.1 was released on 29 September 2011 and is available on Windows, MacOS X and Linux. Quantum GIS is open source software. For testing and learning purpose, a sample dataset is provided which contains collections of data from different sources and in different formats.

* Madmappers

Madmappers is a South African site that allows GIS users of ESRI or QGIS to download topographic sheets in MrSid (multiresolution seamless image database) format. For ArcView 3.x users you can set your extensions in properties to read MrSid format. The benefit of this format is that you could attach a number of topographic sheets seamlessly and make up a map that covers areas in different graticules. You can print a topographic map with a 1:50 000 scale with grid lines and grid squares. Maps could be printed on A4 or A3 paper. If you print them on A3 paper you can add other images along with the map e.g. street view images from Google that show features on the map as well as the conventional symbols. The map can be exported in jpeg format and inserted into PowerPoint presentations.
QGIS users can add a plugin to read MrSid maps. The benefit is that these maps are available free on the net.

* GTASA’s “Taking GIS to the classroom resource”

The Geography Teachers Association of South Australia (GTASA) has recently launched a new resource to work with GIS in the classroom. The book is called "Taking GIS to the classroom", written by Ross Johnson, and is available from the GTASA ($35 for members and $85 for non-members). The resource is ideal for teacher and student use as an attractive and easy to use reference resource to learn about geographic information systems!! Data and learning videos are supplied on a CD with the book! Topics covered in the book include: GIS terms and tools, creating a map of your local area, creating your own geographic areas, thematic maps, creating buffers, using GIS to analyse, data use and dot density maps. Contact the CEASA office to purchase a copy.

* AGTA’s “21st Century Geography” GIS resource
The 21st Century DVD contains outstanding collection of teaching resources, including spatial technologies/GIS units. The DVD contains articles and resources on 21st century Geography and the following books on using GIS in the classroom:
* GIS skills development course
* Using GIS in Physical Geography
* Historical GIS
These books come with course process and activities chapters supported by free GIS data. To order a copy for $95 just go to the AGTA site.

* GTASA’s “GIS in the Field” book

This resource was designed to provide practical classroom application of GIS. Although the book is written for ESRI ArcView 3, the processes, data and activities can be translated to other software programs and has been a very important product in Australia for the meaningful and achievable use of GIS in the classroom.
Content of the “GIS in the Field” book includes
• Introduction to using GIS in the classroom.
• The basics of ESRI ArcView GIS.
• Getting started with ArcView GIS: Thematic mapping.
• Skate park location.
• Pest plant location.
• Bushfire application.
• Real Estate application.
• Streetscape application.
• Wasp nest application.
• Environmental management: revegetation.
Contact the CEASA office at to purchase a copy of this resource.

Not GIS but something of interest to those wanting students to understand and analyse data visualisations. TinkerPlots software is designed to get students in grades 4-8 excited about what they can learn from data. Students can analyze data by creating colourful visual representations that will help them make sense out of real data and recognize patterns as they unfold. TinkerPlots can be previewed for a 20 minute sessions with print, save, copy, and paste disabled. You will need to purchase a license to unlock the full feature set!

* Great population personalisation and visualisations from the BBC
The world's population is expected to hit seven billion in the next few weeks. After growing very slowly for most of human history, the number of people on Earth has more than doubled in the last 50 years. Where do you fit into this story of human life? Fill in your date of birth below to find out.

* Nothing to do with GIS but … A video showing the debris from the Japan tsunami heading to Hawaii – amazing ocean currents

* Dam blown up to allow river to flow naturally again. Brilliant time lapse and has links to prior videos for this river.

* Historical Geograp - Everest not highest mountain!!!! ...and Sea-view Hill at 6,500’ was the highest point in Australia. Some great old Victorian visualisations to look at.

* Earth observation site from NASA: Global Maps
NASA satellites give us a global view of what’s happening on our planet. Earth’s climate system change from month to month, click on the maps on the site.

* Browse the fantastic images from the NASA Earth Observatory site

Friday, October 21, 2011

A spatial-centric view of the Australian Curriculum: Geography

Left image:.Sydney CBD.
Right image: On the tarmac, Sydney.

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??
Hobart, Australia: S: 42º 50' E: 147º 20'

Draft Australian Curriculum: Geography goes up for consultation

Last night, the draft Australian Curriculum: Geography scope and sequence went live for public consultation on the ACARA Curriculum portal. After months of working on the aims, rationale, content, skills and achievement standards, we finally have a curriculum available for everyone in Australia to comment on – not just those targeted few in the form of the writers, advisors, geography associations and jurisdictions. Such selected input is the only way to go during the frantic stages of development, but now it is time to hear from everyone interested. The purpose of this Spatialworlds posting is to have a selected glance with an eye on the spatial. Such a spatial-centric look does not devalue all the other components of the curriculum but it is an attempt to identify the extent and quality of the reference to spatial thinking and the promotion of the use and application of spatial technology. What would one expect from this blog?

* Spatial orientated excerpts from the Rationale

“Geography is a structured way of exploring, analysing and explaining the characteristics of the places that make up our world, through perspectives based on the concepts of place, space and environment. Students of geography investigate the effects of location and distance on the characteristics of places, the consequences of the interconnections between places, the significance of spatial distributions, and the management of the space that is the surface of the earth.
Fieldwork, the mapping and interpretation of spatial distributions, and the use of spatial technologies are fundamental geographical skills. Through their inquiries students also develop a wide range of general skills and capabilities, including information and communication technology (ICT) skills, an appreciation of different perspectives, an understanding of ethical principles, a capacity for teamwork and an ability to think critically and creatively. These skills and capabilities can be applied in everyday life and to a variety of careers.”

* Spatial orientated aims of the curriculum

• the ability to think geographically, based on an understanding of the concepts of place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change
• the capacity to be competent, critical and creative users of geographical inquiry methods and skills

* Inquiry and skills in a spatial context

A glance through the F-10 skills sequences described in the document for each year level shows that there is adequate reference and emphasis to the use of spatial technology, application and analysis. I am sure these will be fine-tuned and made clearer and more overt as a result of the consultation processes over coming months.

For example in the structure of the curriculum section it is said that:

“There is an emphasis on the techniques that geographers use in the field and in the classroom. Students learn to think critically about the methods used to obtain information, analyse and interpret it, in order to communicate their findings.
Key skills which are progressively developed throughout the F-12 draft Australian Curriculum: Geography include (but are not limited to) formulating a question and research action plan that is of a specific geographical nature, developing observation recording skills including diagrams such as field sketches, interpreting and developing maps, tables, photographs, satellite images, diagrams, graphs and other data, using a variety of spatial technologies and communicating with appropriate and relevant geographical vocabulary.”

* The Inquiry model outlined in the document

The place and importance of spatial technologies, applications and analysis plays a central role throughout the inquiry model forwarded in the paper i.e.

Observing and questioning: Developing questions about something that has been observed, experienced or thought about.
Planning, collecting and evaluating: Deciding how to investigate a question or find an answer to a problem, and identifying possible answers to test; collecting information from a variety of primary sources and secondary sources, such as text-based resources, statistics, images, maps, aerial photographs, satellite images, samples and objects, fieldwork, sketches, interviews, and reports; and evaluating information for reliability and bias.
Processing, analysing, interpreting and concluding: Making sense of the information gathered through textual analysis and interpretation, by processing it into maps, tables, graphs and diagrams. Identifying order, diversity, trends, patterns, anomalies, generalisations and cause and effect relationships, using quantitative and qualitative methods appropriate to the type of inquiry; and interpreting the results of this analysis and developing conclusions.
Communicating: Communicating the results of investigations using combinations of communication methods (verbal, audio, graphical, visual, mapping and text-based), which are appropriate to the subject matter, purpose and audience.
Reflecting and responding: Reflecting on the findings of the investigation and relating these findings to existing knowledge; reflecting on the process of the inquiry, and on the strengths and weaknesses of the method of investigation chosen; deciding what action is needed in response to the results of the investigation, by applying the criteria of environmental sustainability, economic costs and benefits, and social justice; and reflecting on the actions.

* Space as a key concept in the curriculum

“The concept of space, in geography, is the three-dimensional surface of the earth. … geography studies difference across space and the rich diversity of environments, peoples, cultures and economies that exist together on the surface of the earth.”

Students develop a progressively deeper understanding of the role of space by:
o investigating the spatial distribution of geographical phenomena and explaining them, often by looking for a similarity between several distributions
o learning how to evaluate the environmental, economic, social and political consequences of particular spatial distributions
o studying the influence of absolute and relative location on the characteristics of places and on people’s lives
o investigating the ways that space is structured, organised and managed by people for different purposes

* Implications for teaching, assessment and reporting
“Students’ interest in geographical learning should be stimulated by a wide variety of activities, such as field trips, interpretation of remotely sensed images …”

* Content at a glance

Foundation: Where we live
Y1: Not everywhere is the same
Y2: Links to our world
Y3 and Y4: How we live
Y5: Climate and activities
Y6: Going global
Y7. Why do people live where they do
Environmental resources: Water plus
Y8: Personal and community geographies
Y9. Biomes and food security
Navigating global connections
Y10. Global well-being
Environmental challenges and geography

* The reference to spatial in the Content and Elaborations

The F-12 content identified above is obviously of great interest to teachers and as stated on-line; the content is to be explored by developing the ability of students “to see the relationships between geographical concepts (place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change.
Naturally many in the world of spatial thinking and spatial technology would have liked to see more in the curriculum which overtly refers to the use of spatial technology and applications. As Mick La w recently commented on this blog:

“It goes without saying that I think a much stronger emphasis should be placed on spatial technologies, particularly given the role they play in the workforce today.”

I think that the references to things spatial and associated technology in the curriculum, cited in this posting, gives plenty of license for the promotion of such in the teaching and learning programs which are to be developed for the Australian Curriculum: Geography.
An enlightened view on such matters is particularly evident in the Year 10 Unit titled: Environmental challenges and Geography when it is stated that students are to be taught that:

“Spatial technologies can be employed to visualise, map and analyse the distribution, causes and possible solutions to the environmental challenge”
and as an elaboration students may:
* investigating spatial technologies used by geographers working on environmental challenges
* analysing the causes of the challenge and to develop possible, probable and preferred futures
* recognising the value of spatial technologies as a geographical tool in geographical inquiry and in a wide range of practical applications
* investigating and discussing how professional geographers use geographical tools, thinking and skills in their work.

Let’s see what the consultation, which is open to February, says on this question. Hopefully we have plenty of comments on the need to have spatial technology, applications and analysis “up front and centre” in the curriculum and that modern geography needs to explore the spatial and use all the technology and applications used in the vocational and community world of geography – as I have referred to as Spatialworlds in this blog.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The place of place in space?

Left image: Red dust, strata and vegetation, Flinders Ranges, South Australia.
Right image: Sunset across the plains, Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

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??
Hobart, Australia: S: 42º 50' E: 147º 20'

Place and space: the difference?

In previous postings I have explored the nature of the concepts of place and space. An outcome of such discussion is usually a need to articulate the difference between place and space for the non-geographer (and geographer in fact). What essentially is the difference?

The following work from Massey and Cresswell is a very useful delineation of the difference between place and space:

Space and place are often merged together in the geographical imagination but space is more abstract than place. We begin with undifferentiated expanses of space and then we identify with certain parts of space, get to know them better endow them with value, then name and identify them as places. It is people that form place. Space is a locale that is made into a place by human intent. A place is given its personality by human relationships across space. It is produced through connections to the rest of the world, particularly the movement of people but also commodities and ideas (Massey,1991, Cresswell, 2004).”

Most importantly it is the humanistic interpretation of place that is at the centre of place study for the cultural geographer. This sense of place is fundamental when exploring the connection of people to place and their sense of place. However the term sense of place has been defined and used in many different ways by many different people.

“To some, it is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not, while to others it is a feeling or perception held by people (not by the place itself). It is often used in relation to those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as to those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging.”

Others, such as geographer Yi-Fu-Tuan have pointed to senses of place that are not inherently "positive," such as fear.”

The work of Yi-Fu-Tuan is particular interesting in this area. His work called “Topophilia: a study of environmental perception, attitudes, and values” had significant impact on the area of human geography since the 1970’s and is an area I would love to see geography classes engage in.

Topophilia means literally love of place. It is a term used to describe the strong sense of place or identity among certain people It can be defined widely so as to include all emotional connections between physical environment and human beings.

In 2001 I conducted a GIS project with my students, called Streetscapes, which on a small scale I tried to get students to determine through specific criteria why every street has a different feel and sense of place.

In fact, to add or clarify the confusion about place and space, Yi-Fu-Tuan contends in his book Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, that:

“… place is defined as a particular part of space that can be occupied, unoccupied, real, or perceived.”
“a space requires a movement from a place to another place. Similarly, a place requires a space to be a place. Hence, the two notions are co-dependent.”

Yi-Fu-Tuan went on to say that:

“…the ways in which people feel and think about space, how they form attachments to home, neighborhood, and nation, and how feelings about space and place are affected by the sense of time. He suggests that place is security and space is freedom: we are attached to the one and long for the other.”

As what often happen in this area of geographical conceptualisation, one can get more confused the further one reads. Can I suggest that a read of some of Yi-Fu-Tuan’s work is well worthwhile to see that place and space are more than just dimensions and patterns to be mapped but are determined by human perception, sense of belonging and attachment. It certainly enriches the study of the key concepts of place and space in the Australian Curriculum: Geography. The following edited extracts from the draft Australian Curriculum: Geography released this week clearly shows that the writers have been influenced by the modern geographical work on place and space outlined above. For example:


“A place is a specific part of the Earth’s surface that has been named and given meaning by people, and these meanings may differ. The concept of place, however, goes well beyond the study of places and is about a way of understanding, explaining and thinking. In particular in involves exploring people’s aesthetic, emotional, cultural and spiritual connections with places; the role of places in their own feelings of identity, sense of place and belonging; and the ways they experience and use places. It is to be recognised that places may be altered and remade by people, and that changes promoted by one group may be contested by others.”


“Space in geography is the three-dimensional surface of the Earth. While history studies change over time, geography studies difference across space, and has a particular interest in understanding the rich diversity of environments, peoples, cultures and economies that exist together on the surface of the Earth.
The study of space in geography recognises that people perceive and use spaces differently, and may feel accepted and safe in some and unwelcome or unsafe in others.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Citing sites: worth a look!

Left image: Just rocks!
Right image: Adelaide from the air: grid patterns.

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'

Some geography sites to have a look at.

* Strange maps: Something different
This blog collects and comments on all kinds of intriguing maps—real, fictional, and what-if ones. His map "US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs" has been viewed more than 587,000 times. An anthology of maps from this blog was published by Penguin in 2009 and can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. An amazing array of different maps to get the mind going and thinking out of the square about maps.

* Mission: Explore, a project to engage young people with geography in new ways has recently been relaunched. On the site at you will discover over 100 activities, a Geography Awareness Week badge and much more. Your organisation can even become a partner challenger and create your own activities and challenges on the site if you would like.

*Geo Tweets worth following:

* Our Cool School site at brings sustainability and environment into the classroom - providing educators with engaging, fun and informative learning activities on a whole range of topics.This site is an Australian first and is free to use. Learning activities are year level specific (years 1-10) and linked to curriculum standards, including physical, personal and social learning. Discipline-based learning as well as interdisciplinary learning are also addressed. Complete units of work can simply be downloaded from the Cool School and taken straight into the classroom. There is a strong emphasis on ease of use for educators. The Cool School encourages students to work on what they can do to help our environment, without being overwhelmed by the greater challenges we all face. The site concentrates on helping students have a positive impact on their own world so they can apply their knowledge with confidence to the broader community.
The site is updated daily to bring educators the most relevant news on our environment with an emphasis on ease of use and quick understanding.

* Educational resources from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Latest curriculum related teaching resources, student activities and statistical tools that have been developed by ABS Education Services as well as other ABS resources that are useful for schools
The 2011 data tables for CensusAtSchool are now available on the CensusAtSchool homepage. You'll find links to the National summary tables and National time series under the red 'Data' section.

* Geography Teachers Asssociation of New South Wales have some excellent resource links up on their site at In particular have a look at Pat Beesons recent presentation at the GTANSW conference on population resources for geography teachers is worth a look at
While on the topic of population, here are some interesting articles recently published in the Washington Post and New Scientist.