Tag Archives: GIS Education

Making It Stick: Three Truths about Teaching with GIS

In their insightful book about the science of successful learning, Make It StickPeter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel spell out some truths about learning.  In addition, they dispel some preconceived notions that many of us may have about learning that simply aren’t valid.  I believe that three of these truths are instructive as to how we as the GIS community should approach teaching and learning with GIS: learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful, learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge, and putting knowledge into a larger context helps learning.

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What is “Transformative” Research?

The Gartner Group Hype Cycle on Emerging Technologies for 2013 (courtesy of Gartner Inc..

Next-generation techniques are already changing the way we do science. Recently the National Academy of Sciences convened a Workshop on Identifying Transformative Research in the Geographical Sciences. Given that so many of the challenges that we currently face are place-based … Continue reading

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Transforming Essential GIS Skills

Over the years GIS has grown to cover a very broad horizon. It’s no longer the domain of specialized departments; instead it has become deeply woven into an organization’s fabric and extends to a very public and connected audience. The fact that we think differently today than in the past about how we use–and perhaps more importantly how we can use–GIS reminds us that we need to continue to evolve our skills in new directions, whether we’re seasoned GIS veterans, or simply trying to land that first job.

A recent e-mail from someone just beginning to to take their first steps into the GIS job market had me thinking about this again. They asked me whether they should take a course in Python to improve their GIS job prospects. Continue reading

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There’s More to Spatial Thinking Than You Think

If you are a geography educator or GIS professional, you might say that “spatial thinking” is a way of reasoning about the world, facilitated by maps. However, if you are a science educator whose students need to make sense of 3-D molecular models or of cross-sections of a plant, “spatial thinking” is likely to mean something quite different. So too for cognitive psychologists who employ experimental methods to understand how people learn.

A recent Specialist Meeting on “Spatial Thinking across the College Curriculumhighlighted these different perspectives. The meeting’s purpose was to “identify the current state of our understanding of spatial thinking, identify gaps in our knowledge, and identify priorities for both research and practice in educating spatial thinkers at the college level.” Forty-three thought leaders were invited to participate, including those from Geography and GIScience, cognitive and developmental psychology, research librarians, and science education, history, landscape architecture, philosophy, and political science. Continue reading

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The Next 20 Years of GIS Education

This is part 2 of my interview with David DiBiase, Director of Education at Esri, about the opportunities and challenges ahead with GIS in education.  [You can read part 1 here]

Have we yet reached a sort of “critical mass” where more educators know about geospatial technologies than don’t know about the technology?

Maps and mapping are certainly part of more people’s day to day lives than ever before. For example, we know that mapping applications are among the most popular apps for smartphones. However, map awareness doesn’t equate with GIS awareness. Relatively few educators, researchers, administrators, and students know how GIS can support learning, help produce research insights, realize efficiencies and better decisions, and provide an edge in the job market. Furthermore, despite the mass market appeal of web mapping, resistance to incorporating GIS assignments in curricula in disciplines like business, economics, education, engineering, political science, and others, persists.

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Changing the Way We Teach and Learn GIS

Mobile computing, social media, “the cloud”, and other technology trends are not only changing the way we use GIS; they’re also changing the way we teach and learn GIS. Just how are these changes affecting education?  I recently spoke with David DiBiase, Director of Education at Esri, about the opportunities and challenges ahead. [Note: This is the first half of the interview; you can read the second half here.]

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