Tag Archives: higher education
Wouldn’t it be amazing if thousands of people could learn about the power of mapping, start making their own web maps, and begin thinking spatially in new ways? MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) make it possible for universities to open higher education to many more students than was previously possible. Beginning 17 July 2013, Dr. Anthony C. Robinson, Geography Professor at The Pennsylvania State University, will offer a MOOC entitled “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution.” This MOOC uses the Coursera platform, which Penn State will be using for 4 other courses as well. Since Coursera launched in April 2012, 1.45 million students are enrolling in courses each month on their platform. Other platforms such as Udacity and EdX also attract large numbers. Not only are these statistics revolutionary, but the idea of mapping as a platform for the efficient functioning of society is also revolutionary. Why?
According to Robinson, this past decade has seen an explosion of new mechanisms for understanding and using location information in widely-accessible technologies. This Geospatial Revolution has resulted in the development of consumer GPS tools, interactive web maps, and location-aware mobile devices. These radical advances are making it possible for people from all walks of life to use, collect, and understand spatial information like never before.
This course is designed to help you rethink what maps are and what they can do, create your first map to tell a story, evaluate and critique the design of maps, explore what is revolutionary about Geography. This course runs for 5 weeks and will have you making maps, analyzing issues and patterns from natural hazards to ecoregions to population change, using exciting new tools such as ArcGIS Online.
Interested? Examine the excellent video series from Penn State on the geospatial revolution. Follow @MapRevolution on Twitter for updates. And most importantly, join the course!
What is the average number of staff development hours per year for teachers within and across countries? What is the association between student-teacher ratios and student achievement in a country or state’s primary schools? How does instruction differ among teachers in a school district who receive different amounts of staff development? Why do teacher qualifications influence instruction? These are examples of the types of questions that educational researchers ask. The data that they gather usually include a locational component, and hence, mapping that data often provides insight and leads to new questions and lines of research.
In the past, the number of educational researchers engaged in mapping their data has been modest, in part perhaps because of the expertise required to do so. But all of that is changing with the advent of easy-to-use yet powerful mapping tools. One of them is ArcGIS Online, which allows for variables to be easily mapped from spreadsheets, analyzed, stored, and shared in the cloud. The number of ways to share the results includes Story Maps and web applications. Another is Esri Maps for Office, which allows for data from Excel to be mapped and even embedded inside PowerPoint presentations. None of these are static maps–they are live web maps that you or those you are communicating with can modify, add to, and change the scale in.
The above questions are examples of those asked in descriptive educational research. Yet mapping holds value for some types of experimental research as well. For example, a study that compares the achievement or attitudes of students before and after an educational intervention can be mapped and compared with the sociodemographics and even environmental variables of where they reside.
The Esri education team is keenly interested in serving the needs of educational researchers. Esri regularly participates in the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference; come see us this year in San Francisco or in the future.
How are you mapping your educational research, or how would you like to do so?
Ten new hands-on activities that accompany the Esri Press book The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data book that Jill Clark and I authored have been posted to the web, along with the data and the answer keys, on the Spatial Reserves site.
Look in the section “exercises and data for the book.” The activities are available through Scribd or through Google Docs. The data for the exercises are stored on ArcGIS Online. We contribute to the blog weekly, expanding on issues raised in the exercises and the book, such as data sources, data quality, data formats, fee vs. free, legal issues, volunteered geographic information, cloud GIS, and much more.
The activities cover a wide variety of scales, themes, and issues, and include:
Activity 1: Assessing the Impacts of potential climate change on coasts, ecoregions, population, and land cover, globally.
Activity 2: Siting an internet café in Orange County, California.
Activity 3: Siting a fire tower in the Loess Hills, Nebraska.
Activity 4: Analyzing floods and floodplains along the Front Range, Colorado.
Activity 5: Assessing potential hurricane hazards in Texas.
Activity 6: Analyzing land use and sustainability in Brazil.
Activity 7: Creating a map for an ecotourism company in New Zealand.
Activity 8: Assessing citizen science portals and analyzing citizen science data in invasive species.
Activity 9: Investigating 3 hazards of 2010: The Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, and the Haiti earthquake.
Activity 10: Selecting the most suitable locations for tea cultivation in Kenya.
How might you use these activities, blog, and book in your teaching GIS and learning GIS?
With support from Esri, the Association of American Geographers (AAG) has reprinted 2,000 copies of the Geographic Information Science and Technology Body of Knowledge (BoK). AAG will distribute these new copies at no charge to attendees at its national events in 2013. In addition, AAG and the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) have granted permission to Esri to distribute a free digital version of the BoK. Download the digital version as a PDF here.
Originally published in 2006, the BoK is the first comprehensive attempt to inventory the knowledge and abilities that comprise the field of geospatial technology. Building on the efforts of Duane Marble and colleagues to develop a Model Curricula for GIS&T education, the UCGIS Education Committee (with support from Esri and AAG) organized contributions from more than 70 GIS scholars and practitioners to produce the BoK.
“The BoK is a very important reference book about the geospatial field and is immensely useful to educators,” says Michael Goodchild, Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “I’m excited that the AAG, Esri, and UCGIS have come together to make it widely available and easily accessible.” “Esri is pleased to support the reprinting and open access distribution of first edition of the GIS&T Body of Knowledge,” says David DiBiase, Esri Director of Education and lead editor of the BoK. “We look forward to broad community participation in the development of a second edition.” UCGIS researchers are currently working on NSF-funded research related to the development of a dynamic approach to the creation and dissemination of the second edition of the book.
Reference this blog post and download URL using: http://esriurl.com/BoK
Beginning in 2012, Esri president Jack Dangermond authorized the Education Industry Team (Ed Team) to license the educational resources we create under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/). Every year, Ed Team members create dozens of educational videos, lessons, and learning activities, most of which are freely available through http://edcommunity.esri.com. Though the works remain copyrighted to Esri, Creative Commons licensing allows users to copy, adapt, and/or distribute them freely. License terms oblige users to (a) acknowledge Esri’s original authorship; (b) refrain from using licensed resources for commercial purposes; and (c) share derivative works freely using the same license.
In addition to the resources it creates in-house, the Ed Team aims to encourage and promote resource sharing and Creative Commons licensing among its partners in formal and informal education communities. This goal follows recommendations of the GIS Education Community Advisory Board to “promote broad Community participation in resource development, sharing, and assessment” (http://blogs.esri.com/esri/gisedcom/2012/08/08/communique-from-the-2012-gis-education-community-advisory-board-meeting/) Visit http://open.ems.psu.edu for examples of open GIS courseware modules published by a public university. A future revision of the Esri Education Community web site will include a showcase for these and other volunteered GIS education resources the Ed Team has reviewed and endorsed.
The Ed Team’s open educational resources initiative complements the many free and for-fee educational resources published by Esri Training (http://training.esri.com), Esri Press (http://esripress.esri.com/), and the ArcGIS Resource Center (for example, http://video.arcgis.com/).
- David DiBiase and Joseph Kerski, Esri
One of the recurring themes in GIS education blogs, forums, listservs, conferences, and in our recent book The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data is the importance of paying attention to the characteristics of data so that correct interpretations of that data can be made when mapping that data. During some recent work with one of our favorite resources mentioned in the book, that of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, (CIESIN), I examined a map showing the population density for central Europe (shown in image).
As I examined the map, population density for Germany seemed unnaturally higher than that of France. True, according to a variety of outside sources, Germany does have roughly twice the population density as does France (235 people per square kilometer for Germany versus 108 for France). But the map seemed to indicate that broad areas of Germany are even higher in density, approaching that of The Netherlands. Is this accurate?
Upon further investigation into the metadata, indeed, the resolution of the data set was to blame. CIESIN uses the highest resolution data available for generating maps like this, and the data they were able to obtain for France had a much higher resolution. The resolution is calculated as the square root of the land area divided by the number of administrative units. For Germany, it was 28, and for France, 4. The resulting population per administrative unit in 2000 was 184,000 for Germany versus only 2,000 for France. A-ha!
Close examination of the map prompted my initial concern: The areas mapped in Germany are much larger than in France. But the differences in data collection could not be confirmed until the metadata was examined. Fortunately, CIESIN does an extremely good job documenting their sources and methods. The user still needs to make it a point to read that documentation. But what should we do when working with sites that do not document their data well? In today’s world of a myriad of data, maps, and tools, it is more important than ever to have a good grounding in map interpretation and spatial analysis, but also to ask questions of the data you are using. How can we as the GIS education community foster this kind of questioning of data by our students?
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
There are plenty of reasons why spatial thinking and geospatial technologies have yet to fulfill their transformative potential in higher education. However, it’s likely that concerted efforts by a few key institutions could have a dramatic impact. Mindful of this, it is apparent that there are five characteristics of “The Spatial University” ….
Those of us in the fields of geography, education, and GIS can probably name numerous games and activities that we are attracted to simply because there is “something spatial” about them. Some of them may have to do with wayfinding, others with angles and directions, patterns and shapes, distances, adjacency, groups, or may rely on geographic content knowledge. In Monopoly, I always sought houses and hotels on Oriental, Vermont, and Connecticut Avenues simply because I liked where they were positioned on the board. I wasn’t deterred by the fact that they were on the “cheap” side of the board (consequently, I seldom won). I enjoy playing Blokus and putting together jigsaw puzzles because of their spatial aspects (although I never could get the top pieces in the 3-D globe puzzle I helped put together this past New Year’s Eve).
Many of us were fond of the blue category in the original Trivial Pursuit game, which was geography (and were subsequently embarrassed whenever we missed a geography question!). I loved the angles and positions in early video games such as Pong and Galaga, and was frustrated by Asteroids largely because it seemed that the scale was wrong. Millions of people play Spatial IQ, Cross Fingers, Glass Tower, and other spatially oriented games on their computers and smartphones daily. And outside, while I found the directions to my one and only road rally game too complicated, I greatly enjoy confluence hunting, geocaching, and earthcaching.
A small but growing community of researchers and instructors is exploring how the playing of games can foster spatial thinking, content knowledge, and skills important in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, geography, and GIS. My colleague Dr. Diana Stuart Sinton teaches a class called the “Foundations of Spatial Thinking” as part of the Learning Spatially at the University of Redlands program. One of her assignments to the students is to categorize games and activities in terms of the spatial strategies used, and how the strategies may be relevant for STEM learning. Dr. Ola Ahlqvist has an NSF cyber learning grant to develop and study learning with GeoGames. National Geographic supported Reach The World’s development of geo-games. The world of geospatially-oriented games on smartphones and computers is poised for great expansion, with the inclusion of real spaces and places in these games posing intriguing potential for teaching, learning, and research. Imagine any game scenario not in an imaginary world but taking place using imagery and maps of Davenport, or Shreveport, or anywhere.
What are your favorite spatially-oriented games? How might you use games to foster spatial thinking and learning?
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
In my last blog post, I mentioned that universities are increasingly thinking about implementing courses entitled “Introduction to Spatial Thinking”. I described a few existing excellent models for such courses, inviting comments from the community. Development of such courses would be hastened by community dialog so that each faculty member does not feel like he or she has to develop such a course from scratch. In this essay, I would like to share components that would valuable in such a course.
I believe such a course should include a mix of reflections on readings and videos, and hands-on work with GIS and GPS technologies. An active discussion on the theoretical underpinnings of spatial thinking is necessary, because most students entering such a course most likely have had minimal exposure to geography in the past, and most likely have not purposely thought about the applicability of spatial thinking to their education, career, or life. I would begin with selected videos and essays to foster discussion, including the Geospatial Revolution, GIS Touches our everyday lives, my ArcWatch article Spatial Thinking: Habits of Mind, and my video Why Geography Education Matters. I would access articles on the bibliography on the Esri Education Community from Diana Stuart Sinton, Sarah Bednarz, Reg Golledge, and Phil Gersmehl, among others.
Whether face to face or online, I would promote active engagement with geospatial technologies. Easy-to-implement yet powerful activities would use ArcGIS Online, including Earth Quiz: Name that Place, analyzing the distribution of bail bonds and car washes in a metropolitan area, Weird Earth (Using strange and unusual imagery to spark inquiry), Exploring 10 Landscapes (such as eskers, karst, and lava fields), analyzing 10 aspects of water, (including watersheds, wetlands, dams and reservoirs, and oceans), and analyzing demographic components and their implications (such as median age, income, diversity, population density, and population change over time). Over the course of the semester, I would gradually increase the analytical rigor, using ArcGIS for Desktop with selected lessons from the Our World GIS Education books, siting a ski area using GIS, and determining the mean center of population for the USA and for individual states, 1790-2010. I would frequently include getting students out onto the campus or in their own neighborhoods (if the course is online), collecting data, mapping data, hyperlinking text, video, and photographs, and analyzing resulting patterns within a GIS environment.
I would require frequent presentations from students, including a presentation at the end of the semester, asking each student: How do you use spatial thinking each day, how have you used spatial thinking to solve three problems in this course, and how will you use GIS in the future?
What would you include in a course on spatial thinking?
-Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
July 21–24, 2012 ~ Marriott Marquis and Marina ~ San Diego, CA
GIS education prepares students for valued careers, enhances learning across a variety of disciplines, and enables administrators to realize efficiencies in campus operations. Through technical sessions, hands-on workshops, and user presentations, the Esri Education GIS Conference provides unique learning opportunities to help you and your educational institution maximize its investment in GIS.
Join us as we envision the future of GIS technology and pedagogy in a uniquely participatory plenary discussion and be a founding member of the next generation Esri Education Community.