Friday, November 28, 2014

Another app opportunity

Great apps for the teaching of geography

The number of apps for iPad and iPhone just keep on growing! Further to the Spatialworlds posting called 'An app opportunity for the geography classroom', I thought these apps sourced by Sean Hampton-Cole were worth categorising and posting.  Hours of fun with these at the personal level and for classroom application - something to play with over the Xmas holidays!!

1. Development geography/demography

Datafinder 3.0

Universal Counters
World Figures


2. Hazards geography
Disaster Alert
Earth as Art2


 5. Climatology
Our Choice

6. Map skills and mapping our world

City Compass


Elevation Chart

Map Overlay


World Atlas

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Getting better all the time: Sunshine geography

Image: A good news story: The Golden Temple is the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. It is also home to one of the largest free eateries in the world.

In a previous posting I explored the idea of Geogphobia and the need for some 'sunshine geography' to engage students in the WOW (World of Wonder) of geography.  Such an approach is not denigrating the importance of students addressing geographical issues and problems but is saying that we should not start with the deficit model but have students see the wonder of the world before exploring issues.
It is impossible as a citizen not to avoid the bad news in the media - it feeds on it!! The classroom needs to be much more strategic when we are working with the development of values, attitudes and perspectives related to the fragility and dynamism of our world. The negativity of the 24 hour news cycle in relation to the environment came home to me recently at a workshop when I asked participants the question; "how much of South Australia's energy needs come from wind energy?" Most participants guessed that it was about 5-10%. In fact, in 2014 South Australia generated up to 30% of its energy needs from wind power and in July this year enough electricity was generated from wind farms to meet a record 43 per cent of the state’s power needs, and on occasions during the month provided all the state’s electricity needs. Even more impressive is that the combination of wind energy and rooftop solar has provided more than 100 per cent of South Australia's electricity needs for a whole working day between 9.30am and 6pm several times over recent months .

Now that is a South Australian good news story! On those same days wind energy accounted for 12% of Victoria's energy needs - also impressive considering Victoria's energy needs!

                               Interactive daily South Eastern Australia wind energy map

On the theme of the media only focusing on bad news in relation to the geographical world (a phenomena called death geographies), I thought the following article from Business Insider Australia was incredibly pertinent. 

OK, Haters, It's Time To Admit It: The World Is Becoming A Better Place 

"Some people love to complain about how horrible everything is all the time. And there are certainly plenty of horrible things to complain about. People are mean, for example. And people get sick. And there are horrible accidents and injustices and tragedies and unfairness everywhere. And there is Ebola. However it is nice sometimes remind ourselves that some things — many things, in fact — are getting better all the time. "

Over at the Oxford Martin School, Max Roser has put together a provocative article and presentation entitled, “It’s a cold hard fact: Our world is becoming a better place.”
Roser includes lots of facts that will drive the haters crazy and show that our world is becoming a better place. What follows are a range of graphs over time showing change in health, wars, poverty, feeding of populations, democracy and political freedoms around the world. The trends are all downward ... but are they just clever use of statistics?

* War and battles have declined over time

* The Visual History of the Rise of Political Freedom and the Decrease in Violence

* Health 

(The Our World in data has an amazing number of visualisations on world health)

* Feeding the world


  * Democractisation of the world

Our World in data - great visualisatons to show change  
The visualisations above relating to good news stories have come from the excellent site by Max Roser called 'Our World in data'. Max Roser, is a James Martin Fellow researching income inequality and inclusive growth at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Oxford Martin School. Of particular interest is that much of the visualisations on this site are perfect for some of the geographical thinking in relation to the Change concept of the Australian Curriculum: Geography - to show that change is not always a deficit as we study geography. However there are also plenty of visualisations on the site to show that things are not getting better i.e forest cover and CO2 emissions

Roser explains the thinking behind his online resource:

"Is it actually true that we are building a better world? Or are those who claim that things are always getting worse the ones in the right? Whether we're discussing the way of the world over a pint in the pub or dissecting the issues at an academic conference, it’s a topic that lingers constantly: how is the world changing?
The evidence to answer these questions is out there, but it is often obscured by media headlines. So we created to present long-term data on how our world is changing. Using empirical data, visualised in graphs, we tell the history of the world that we live in, looking at long-term economic, social and environmental trends. For each topic the quality of the data is discussed and comprehensive lists of the data sources are provided, giving a trustworthy and transparent starting point for researchers.
The evidence shows that we are becoming less violent and increasingly more tolerant, that we are leading healthier lives, are better fed, and that poverty around the world is declining rapidly. Taking these facts into account paints a very positive picture of how the world is changing."


Friday, November 21, 2014

Geography: from the stimulating to exhilarating

                                     everything has to do with geography

Related links to Spatialworlds
GeogSplace (a teaching blog for Year 12 geography)
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

Where am I??

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


“I’m a geographer, frankly, I’m proud of that fact even if I have to explain when I meet someone exactly what it is a geographer does.”
Associate Professor Andrew Shears (a fascinating geography blog to check out from Andrew)

As frequently mentioned on this blog, there is a disconnect between what geographers think geography is and what the community and non-geographer educators think geography is. In fact, there is even arguments on the matter between geographers i.e. the physical geography versus human geography debate. Whilst the perception of geography varies enormously, one of the good things coming out of the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Geography is that  geographers are working with teachers and parents to enunciate what they see geography as. I was amused by the following example of a typical discussion geographers tend to have with those trying to get a grasp of what geography is in the 21st Century - an exhausting, but necessary role for us geographers as the curriculum is implemented!

Imagine the poor geographer trying to explain to someone exactly what it is he or she studies.

“Geography is Greek for ‘writing about the earth.’ We study the Earth.”
“Right, like geologists.”
“Well, yes, but we’re interested in the whole world, not just the rocky bits.  Geographers also study oceans, lakes, the water cycle…”
“So, it’s like oceanography or hydrology.”
“And the atmosphere.”
“Meteorology, climatology…”
“It’s broader than just physical geography.  We’re also interested in how humans relate to their planet.”
“How is that different from ecology or environmental science?”
“Well, it encompasses them.  Aspects of them.  But we also study the social and economic and cultural and geopolitical sides of–
“Sociology, economics, cultural studies, political science.”
“Some geographers specialise in different world regions.”
“Ah, right, we have Asian and African and Latin American studies programs here.  But I didn’t know they were part of the geography department.”
“They’re not.”
(Long pause.)
“So, uh, what is it that you do study then?”
―    Ken Jennings 

Just to emphasise the difficulty for many to get a purchase on what is geography, I thought it would be fun in this posting to pick a mixed-bag of sites, from the stimulating to exhilarating to show the diversity of topics studied under the banner of geography. As Judy Martz is quoted as saying in the image at the top of the posting,  everything can be studied in geography, as long as it is studied geographically!  What does that mean? With the Australian Curriculum: Geography it means to look at what we study through the lens of the seven key concepts of place, space, environment, scale, environment, sustainability, interconnection and change - to think geographically on a topic/area of study is what makes geography geography.  Now just enjoy these amazing examples of geography and geographical thinking!

The stimulating!

* A Meandering stream

* Visualising global urban growth 

An interactive data visual covering all cities with 500,000-plus inhabitants – illustrates the scale and speed of urban transformation that research by the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) has sought to document and describe. A guide to its use can be found underneath the visual.

* Who lives where in Europe? Nationalities across the continent mapped

People of many different countries are now living in Europe, with the continent's residents coming everywhere from Jamaica to Tuvalu. Using data from 2011 censuses this interactive maps the prevalence of different nationalities across the European continent. Pick a country and the map will tell you how many people from that country live in each* European state

* Women's rights: country by country

Which countries have laws preventing violence? Which legislate for gender equality? And which countries allow abortion? Using World Bank and UN data this interactive offers a snapshot of women's rights across the globe

* Instant thematic maps on demographics 

 A great resource to make demographic geography interactive. Index Mundi is home of the Internet's most complete country profiles. The site also contains detailed country statistics, charts, and maps compiled from multiple sources.

* The geography of stolen cars: why the difference from place to place must be the geographical question?

* Worldometer 

Live world statistics on population, government and economics, society and media, environment, food, water, energy and health.

* Mapping children's chances 

Excellent maps displaying the standard of living available to children around the world. These maps help us to understand the quality of life present in different countries around the world. This is the biggest ever global picture of children’s well-being, education and family life has been assembled into a series of maps by the University of California, Los Angeles. "When you look at a map, everyone's eyes go straight to where they live," says Dr Jody Heymann, director of the university's World Policy Analysis Centre.

... and the exhilarating!

* Norway, a time lapse adventure

* Climbing Mount Everest in 3D