Thursday, October 25, 2012

Geogstory 2

Image above: A rainbow over Australian Rules Football at the MCG.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact

Where am I??
Perth, Australia: S: 31º 57' E: 115º 52'

The Geogstory of Skateistan

In a previous Spatialworlds blog posting titled 'Geogstory' it was suggested that:

"History is full of stories and is an integral part of engaging history teaching but as geography teachers we also tell stories to engage (even if our holiday adventures). Maybe we should call it Geogstory to encourage teachers to tell geographical stories to engage and elucidate the geography they teach. Not just to tell stories but use stories to encourage geographical thinking." 

As a follow-up to this thinking on the power of Geogstories, I thought a recent initiative in Afghanistan called Skateistan provided a great potential Geogstory to engage students in the geographical study of that troubled place.

Skateistan began as a Kabul-based Afghan NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) and is now an International non-profit charity providing skateboarding and educational programming in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Pakistan. Skateistan is non-political, independent, and inclusive of all ethnicities, religions and social backgrounds.
Skateistans goal is to always be a unique social project with quality.

  • work with youth ages 5-18.
  • have over 50% of their students are streetworking children.
  • say that early 40% of their students are girls.
Skateistan set out to use skateboarding as a tool for empowerment by:
  • providing acces to education
  • focusing especially on girls and working children
  • developing leadership opportunties
  • building friendship, trust, and social capital.
Skatiestan the movie

As soon as Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich dropped his board in Kabul in 2007, he was surrounded by the eager faces of children of all ages who wanted to be shown how to skate. Stretching out the three boards he and a former girlfriend/aidworker had brought with them, "Ollie" began dedicating himself to the creation of a small skateschool in Afghanistan.

Current Projects

Just a small idea but one that can and has made a difference to so many in such troubled places. Watch the video made in January 2010 by a group of people who wanted to make Kabul a better place for the kids - and it grew from there. Very inspiring and this story provides a wonderful opportunity to create a Geogstory containing some rich cultural, political, environmental and social geography.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A spatial assortment

Image above: Sun setting on Perth.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact

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

 Some great Internet resources to think spatially with

Map designer Aris Venetikidis is fascinated by the maps we draw in our minds as we move around a city -- less like street maps, more like schematics or wiring diagrams, abstract images of relationships between places. How can we learn from these mental maps to make better real ones? As a test case, he remakes the notorious Dublin bus map.

* Geocrusader is the blog of a Geo enthusiast and professional. Their interests include Remote Sensing, Geography, Cartography, GIS, Spatial Analysis, Geospatial Sciences, Geopolitics, Geomatics"

* with Seth Dixon at Geography Education:   The Scoop it contains global news with a spatial perspective, resources for educators and the inherently inquisitive. Fantastic gear for geography teaching on a daily basis.  Not to be missed!!

* What is Geo-literacy? A interesting YouTube resource.

* 7 Billion:How Did We Get So Big So Fast?

* 19th Century data visualisations. Things are the same but different over time.

TED Talks In this short talk, TED Fellow Sarah Parcak introduces the field of "space archeology" -- using satellite images to search for clues to the lost sites of past civilizations

This image of Earth’s city lights was created with data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS). Originally designed to view clouds by moonlight, the OLS is also used to map the locations of permanent lights on the Earth’s surface. Great image downloads.

The ease of navigation of this site allows the user to conduct a specific search of simply explore demographic, economic, environmental and development data on any country in the world.

Environmental refugees have been forced to leave their homes beause of soil degradation, deserticfication, flooding, drought, climate change and other environmental factors.

This is an excellent video for population and demographic units, but also for showing regional and spatial patterns within the global dataset (since terms like 'overpopulation' and 'carrying capacity' inherently have different meanings in distinct places and when analyzed at various scales).

With Place Geography being so important to the Australian Curriculum: Geography I thought this article is worth a read

TED Talks Western countries throw out nearly half of their food, not because it’s inedible -- but because it doesn’t look appealing. Tristram Stuart delves into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.

Quirky geography stuff

On this tattoo map, you've got to earn the ink by traveling to the country. A real geography nerd

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Professional learning: the next frontier

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project

Email contact

Where am I?? 
Brisbane, Australia: S: 27º 29' E: 153º 08'

To think geographically in a day!

As the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Geography comes ever closer with the publication of the curriculum is on the horizon, our mind and energy will turn towards professional learning for teachers, in particular non-geography teachers. The opportunity to talk to a group of non-geography and geography teachers for a day about geographical thinking and skills in the Australian Curriculum: Geography is a great opportunity to 'suss out' approaches, resources and models for the professional learning we need to develop over the next few years.  

The following PowerPoint's on Dropbox are provided for the participants and anyone else interested to engage in geographical thinking and skills in preparation to teach the new Australian geography curriculum from 2013 onwards (if allowed by their jurisdiction and/or school).

Presentation 1: What does Geography look like in the 21st Century?

Presentation 2: Geographical thinking, inquiry and skills.

Presentation 3: Geospatial Technology and fieldwork

Sunday, October 7, 2012

GIS plus! What more can one say! It is important in todays world!

Image above: Circular Quay, a hub of energy.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project

Email contact

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

The Geospatial Industry continues its upwards projectory.

 The following information has been gleaned from a Literature review recently completed by Dr Joel Roache, Faculty of Education, La Trobe University.  Thanks to Professor Margaret Robertson for permission to use some of this work for this posting.
Such work full of statistics and quotes from authorities and academics is always useful fodder for our arguments to include spatial technology in the school curriculum.

“The business of looking down is looking up” (Gewin, 2004).

Geospatial technology has been defined as a rapidly growing and changing field. The term geospatial technology (GST) refers to geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing (RS), and emerging technologies that assist the user in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of spatial data.

It has been argued that geospatial technologies are to spatial sciences what the microscope was to biology or the telescope to astronomy, they represent a fundamental change in the way we use, imagine and understand spatial information (Phoenix, 2004).

As previosly discussed in Spatialworlds blog, Geospatial technologies, particularly GIS and GPS, have some form of application in and for almost every professional field, every business, industry, government agency, school, and home.  These technologies have become indispensable to almost anybody who needs or wants to explore, evaluate or consider the scope of human activity.

"GIS has transformed the way we describe and study the earth. We strive to understand the surface of the earth as the living environment of human populations and the forces of change that alter the earth’s environments. The environment affects our health and well-being and we, through our activities, reshape the environment. Geographic Information Systems are computer-based systems for integrating and analysing spatial data, and therefore provide a digital lens for exploring the dynamic connections between people, their health and well-being, and changing physical and social environments." (Cromley & McLafferty, 2002, quoted in Kidman & Palmer, 2006, p.290)

Some stats to convince

"In 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) identified geotechnology as amongst the three most critical developing technological fields, alongside nanotechnology and biotechnology, with continually growing and diversifying career opportunities." (Gewin, 2004). 

Global sales of geospatial software alone grew 10.3% in 2010 to a level in excess of USD$4.4bn, with an additional 8.3% estimated for 2011 – the USA accounts for almost half this growth, with a compound growth rate of 11% for the period 2002-2010, followed by the Asia-Pacific region on 8.7% and Europe on 7.9% - sustained by a growing worldwide need for geographically correlated information which is estimated to continue growing at a rate of just under 10% until at least 2014 (Spatialsource 1, 2011; Lawrence, 2011).  Satellite remote sensing, another form of geospatial technology, is estimated to have a global market worth USD$16bn by 2019, with an additional 100 satellites ear-marked for launching to help meet this demand, particularly for government and military agencies, but also for private-public partnerships and private business (Spatialsource 2, 2011).

The worldwide market for geospatial technologies rose from an estimated USD$5bn-$30bn between 2002 and 2005 (split 2:1 between RS and GIS) (Gaudet et al., 2003).  The market for geospatial technology in India has been valued at AUD$213m in 2008–09, with an projected growth to AUD$610m by 2013, and is believed to have surpassed AUD$15bn in China in 2011 – with over 300 000 people working in over 10,000 companies and institutes engaged in the industry, produced by an estimated 200 of the country’s universities that offer GIS-related majors (Lawrence, 2011). 

In Australia, the joint Commonwealth and States’ run company PSMA published revenues of AUD$6.5m in their most recent accounts, which combined with the financial results of the four major States, indicates a revenue base of under AUD$20m per year in Australia, well below the potential for this sector, and a by-product of a lack of training and resourcing in geospatial technologies (Lawrence, 2011).  This skills shortage will need to be addressed if Australia is to realise the full potential of geospatial information and technology as we move further into the 21st century.

The breadth of the geospatial industry around the globe

Over 140,000 organisations use GIS worldwide, mostly governmental agencies, with environmental, civil government, defense and security, and transportation as the most active.  Moreover, and crucially, there are already signs that this rapid industry expansion is unable to be met.  NASA, for example, has had over 26% of its most highly trained geotechnology staff retire in the last decade, whilst the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency sought to expand its GIS workforce by over 7000 in the three years between 2004 and 2007 (Gewin, 2004).  The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing estimated annual growth rates in the geospatial industry of between 9-14%, with predicted revenues in the U.S. alone topping USD$6bn by the end of 2012, whilst employment trends in industries hiring surveyors and mapping technicians were projected to increase by 23% in the U.S. in the ten years to 2012, and in the same period job openings in cartography and photogrammetry were to increase by 15% (Trautmann, MaKinster & Edelstein, 2007).  In fact the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the ‘architecture and engineering occupations group’, which includes surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists and surveying technicians, all key geospatial occupational categories, is an occupational group projected to have the fastest occupational growth rates in the decade leading up to 2012 (United States Department of Labor, 2005).

So, what more can one say, the geospatial is important in today's world!

Monday, October 1, 2012

More than a blog map!

More than a blog map!  Made for spatial analysis.

The programs Revolver Maps and ClustrMaps are some of the fabulous representations of data available free to website and blog site managers.  The Spatialworlds blog has been using these programs as gadgets to log and represent usage of the site for the past 18 months.  The Spatialworlds blog has had over 11488 hits and over 52 000 pageviews from 135 countries in that time.  As I repeatedly look at and review the Revolver Maps and ClustrMaps on the front page of the Spatialworlds site, I have started to think that these maps are a really a great opportunity to undertake some spatial analysis in line with the Space concept from the Australian Curriculum: Geography as previously discussed on this blog.  The curriculum defines the concept of Space as:

“Geographers think spatially: they examine location, and the distribution and pattern of human and natural features, and they engage with the spatial arrangement of those features.”

The Revolver Maps and ClustrMaps offer the opportunity to explore distribution and patterns through the location and quantification of the hits on the site from around the worlds.  The Revolver map of October 2012 displayed above shows;
  • high concentration of hits in Europe, US, India, New Zealand Phillipines, Japan 
  • greatest concentration of hits in Eastern US 
  • moderate hit levels in Eastern Central South America and Eastern South Africa
  • linear representation of hits on the eastern side of Australia and Africa
  • large vacant spaces in Central, Western and Northern South America, Central and Northern Africa, Central and Western Australia, and Northern North America
  • minimal ‘hit activity’ or distribution spread in China and Russia.

Adding the quantifiable representation of dot maps provided by the Revolver Maps data bases and the ClustrMaps dot map (shown above), we observe that the greatest number of hits come from the US, Canada, UK, India, South Africa

Such analysis of the distribution and frequency of hits provided by the maps leads to the next opportunity for meaningful spatial analysis; to use the geographical skill I referred to as the 'whyabouts’ (for the geographer to ask questions related to the Why of the Where?) in a previous Spatialworlds skills posting. This skill involves asking questions such as why:
  • the high hit levels in Eastern US, Europe and along the coast of Eastern Australia
  • so few hits and lack of distribution in China and Russia
  • so few hits in most of Africa and Western South America
  • the blog is so popular in the Phillipines, India and only parts of South America.

It is not the purpose of this blog to definitively answer these ‘whyabouts’ questions but it can be said that the answers to these questions are to be found in the exploration of political, physical, social, development and economic geography of these places of the globe. To find possible reasons for the distribution and frequency of such representations would be an interesting and meaningful classroom exercise/assignment for students.

Through the eyes of a geographer, such representation of hits created by the Revolver Maps and ClustrMaps programs show much more than just the spread of technology around the world. Through the patterns, distribution and frequency of the representations, the programs tell us quite a lot about the physical and cultural nature of the places of our earth. These representations many of us use and enjoy looking at are a rich resource to view the concept of not only Space but also Place for students.