Thursday, July 30, 2009

GTAQ Conference 2009 - Using Spatial Technologies in the Geography Classroom

Spatial technologies have been the buzz word in Geography for a number of years now. We have all tried at some stage to attempt to implement some form of spatial technologies in our classroom with varying degrees of success. The main impediments to the introduction of these technologies have previously been issues with time and cost.

However, this is no longer the case. The importance of spatial information has meant that there are a large number of free, online sites available for use to access and use. The wonderful thing about these sites is that there is minimal preparation needed, and they are generally easy to use (as long as you have the internet!).

This presentation will provide an overview of what spatial technologies are, why you should use them and how they can be used in the Geography classroom. Specific time will be spent on various sites, including Google maps. I will also show you some maps my students have created following a coastal field trip.

So, why are spatial technologies needed in the classroom?

Improving spatial literacy among our students is important. The National Geographic-roper Public Affairs (NG-RPA) 2006 Literacy Study found that six in ten young Americans aged 18 to 24 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East; one-third could not find Louisiana on a map of the United States; and most incredibly, when given a hypothetical map and told they could escape an approaching hurricane by evacuating north-west, one-third would travel in the wrong direction.

The image below may provide humorous (but not really!) evidence of this.


Before we start looking at sites, we must understand what spatial technologies are. The slideshow below was one that I have put together and uploaded to slideshare.



Funny Movies about GPS





Google Maps and Streetview




Examples of Online Spatial Technologies

The following link will allow you to view and download a document that contains heaps of online resources that you can use in the classroom. We will look at some in more detail today.




MapZone
This would have to be the best online GIS site that is available free for students. The activities are clear and engaging, and introduce the students the idea of what GIS is and how it works. The following link - Creating Our Own Digital Landscape - is an example of how I used Mapzone in the classroom.

Sentinel Hotspots
Sentinel is a national bushfire monitoring system that provides timely information about hotspots to emergency services managers across Australia. The mapping system allows users to identify fire locations with a potential risk to communities and properties.

FluTracker
This map and the data behind it were compiled by Dr. Henry Niman, a biomedical researcher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, using technology provided by Rhiza Labs and Google. The map is compiled using data from official sources, news reports and user-contributions and updated multiple times per day. A great tool to track the outbreak of swine flu.

US Crime Reports.com
This map provides detailed crime statistic data for cities in the US. A great tool to look at patterns and the prevalence of differing types of crime. A pity Australia hasn't put something like this together.

Google Maps


Google Maps is developing into one of the most amazing and accessible sites for Geography teachers to utilise. Using Google Maps you are able to create your own maps using My Maps, add text and images to a point, and then email this tour to someone else.

The following link will take you to a task I created for my Unit 1 (equivalent to Year 11) Geography class - Bec's Classes - Coastal Fieldwork: Your Assessment Task. Using images and data collected from the fieldtrip, my students created their own map. An example of a student's assessment task can be viewed by clicking here - Coastal Fieldtrip Google Map by Stephanie Kosth.

A new Google Map application is the Scribble Map. This allows the user to draw on a google map, place markers and text, create a custom widget, save the file and then send it to friends. The application of spatial brainstorming and sketching in class, saving the file and then uploading it to a blog or the intranet is real.

Your Task

Create a Google Maps 'My Map' of a trip around your local area. As you will not have any photos, use Flickr and the url of these images to practice linking images to a point. The following You Tube movie provides a step-by-step overview of how to create your map. Thanks to Mick Law from Contour Education for creating this.



As an alternative, you could create your own 'Love Map'. See below.



Google Earth also provides a number of opportunities for your class, including the creation of tours. Any maps you create with Google Maps are interchangeable with Google Earth. Mick Law from Contour Education has also put together resources on how to use Google Earth in the Geography classroom. Google Earth Resources for Geography Teachers provides a multitude of resources for Geography teachers on how to use Google Earth in the classroom. This site was established and maintained by a UK Geography teacher.

Other Resources

Mapping Worlds
This site allows you to view various interesting pieces of data (death penalty, women in parliament, cattle etc) with a slightly different perspective. You will be shown a map that changes the size of each country according to its value of that data.


Twittervision 3d
This site is spatial technologies meets Web 2.0. It displays the real time location of tweets from around the world. Very interesting to use if you are looking at the spread of news on geographical issues.

Other resources can also be found on previous blog posts of this blog.

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