Tag Archives: EdComm

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning and GIS

In their wonderful book about the science of successful learning, Make It StickPeter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel spell out some truths that I believe are instructive as to how we should approach teaching with GIS.

First, the authors claim that ”learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful. Learning that’s easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow.”   Despite the fact that teaching and learning with GIS is far easier than it was a decade ago, I think we as educators do a disservice to our colleagues in education or to students when we say, “it’s easy.”  First of all, teaching and learning are difficult tasks–neither is for the fainthearted.  Second, think of everything that goes into teaching with GIS–a balance between content knowledge, skills, and the geographic perspective.  Yes, it may be easier technically to bring in a CSV file into ArcGIS Online than it was to bring in a spreadsheet into ArcInfo back in the 1990s, but even this skill relies on some key foundations.  A few of these are:  What is a database and how can I create one?  How can locations be mapped?  How can I work with latitude and longitude pairs, or street addresses? What are the pros and cons of choosing a certain map projection over another?

Furthermore, recall a time when working in GIS when you tenaciously stuck to a problem you were grappling with and finally figured it out.  That shouldn’t take long–you are not likely to forget those times, nor the skills that you gained by doing so, either.  If everything was easy, according to these authors, and confirmed by our own experiences in using GIS, we certainly wouldn’t remember it as well.  And by implication, we wouldn’t be building a foundation for new knowledge, as I will expand below.

Second, the authors claim that “all new learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.”  How often do we as educators, or we as students, want to skip right to an advanced task without understanding the knowledge and skills that need to be in place first?  For example, when teaching a recent workshop on mapping field data, many of the workshop participants wanted to skip to the last item on the agenda–citizen science mapping with live web mapping services–before understanding how data can be mapped and what a mapping service is in the first place.

Third, “putting new knowledge into a larger context helps learning.”  One of the purposes of this blog, the EdCommunity resources, webinars, the T3G institute, ConnectEd, and other initiatives is to ground the use of GIS in the larger context of educational best practice, within specific disciplines’ content, within the context of other geospatial skills.  Even the tried-and-true lesson of using GIS to teach about plate tectonics should take place in a larger context of the physical processes of the Earth and the relationship between earthquakes, volcanoes, and plate boundaries.

There are other instructive gems for teaching and learning with GIS, such as “learning is an acquired skill, and the most effective strategies are often counterintuitive”, but I’ve run out of space in this essay.  I leave it to you to read this book, reflections by my colleague Charlie Fitzpatrick, and an article in Education Week about “grit”, and to share your comments here.

Make It Stick - Book

Make It Stick – Book.

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Social Media at the Esri Education user Conference (#esriEdUC)

Attending the Esri EdUC next week?

For those that use Twitter, please plan to Tweet with the hashtag #esriEdUC  – you can also follow @esriedUC

Flickr users, please post with tags esriEdUC and esriUC.- you can see pics posting with the esriEdUC tag at Flickr.

We also encourage you to post to YouTube using the same tags as in Flickr. Consider using your smartphones to create a short video of a colleague (with their permission) about their favorite EdUC activities or create your video diary of the event in YouTube.

Post your comments and reflections to one or more of the Facebook destinations:

Schools: http://facebook.com/schoolGIS (be sure to “Like”)

School Admin: http://facebook.com/schoolAdminGIS (be sure to “Like”)

Higher Ed: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_74496440326

The EdCommunity website (http://edcommunity.esri.com) is featuring select content from Flickr and Twitter and the EdCommunity blog is updated regularly during the EdUC and year around!

Your frequent posts to these venues help us build a stronger, more involved community of educators.

Be sure to also review the social media planned for the Esri User Conference.

See you in San Diego!

- Tom Baker, Esri Education Manager

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First 2011 Webinar: 10 Tips for Easy Web Mapping in the Classroom Tomorrow [ #edtech #sschat ]

10 Tips for Easy Web Mapping in the Classroom Tomorrow

Date and Time: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 9pm EDT/8pm CDT (1 hour).

Webinar presented by: Esri Education Team, Esri and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE). NCGE will host the webinar.

Register today at NCGE for the this joint Esri-NCGE webinar at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/202549654

Cost: Free

About: Learn about the basics in web mapping technology and easy-to-implement strategies for the geography & science classrooms. Critical websites and power tips will be provided to teachers new to geospatial tools – designed specifically for use “tomorrow”. We’ll even show you how to create your own map-enabled presentations, suitable for use in any academic subject area.

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4 Easy Ways For New GIS Teachers To Get A Little Help

As a teacher new to using GIS in the classroom, you may find that often times you’re the only one in the building. Maybe you’re using GIS with GPS for field data collection or having students create presentations with ArcGIS Explorer Online. Perhaps you’re mapping demographic or employment data with your civics class. Whether you realize it or not, you’re definitely not alone! Help is only a few mouse clicks away.

The Esri Education Community was first launched in 2007 to support educators of all kinds who want to use GIS in the classroom. The community is now home to ArcLessons, the GIS University Programs database, case studies, an event calendar and plenty more. Check this site first and often for the latest content from the Esri Education Team and other GIS in education gurus.

The most recent and perhaps the best way to get some targeted help is by posting to the new  Education forums. While the forums require a free Esri Global Id to post, it only takes a few seconds to get started. Recent forum topics have focused on GIS & Geocaching, GIS for Mac, GIS in state standards, and many others. Bookmark the forums for fast access and post your most pressing questions here!

With well over 500 posts, the Education Community blog is your one-stop for the latest in curriculum, data, software, and best practice. The blog is updated several times a week and includes a handy search and RSS support.

Finally, for those in Higher Education, the must-do is: join the Higher Education email listserv (Highered-L). This list typically has two to five posts a week, is monitored by the Esri Higher Education Team and has members from around the world. Especially, if email is the best way for you to keep up, joining this list should be top priority! (Note: if you work in teacher education or educational research, also consider joining this non-Esri group.)

Next time, we’ll take a quick stroll through social media.

- Tom Baker, Esri Education Manager

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5 Teaching Tips for First Timers with web GIS in the Classroom

1. Use a technology with which you’re comfy. If you’re completely new to digital mapping, I’d suggest using a web-based GIS, like ArcGIS Explorer Online. While web-based tools don’t have the extensive functions and analysis tools of a desktop GIS, they are fast to learn and easy to use. I really like the multiple BaseMaps available and the Map Notes feature. (Tech note: ArcGIS Explorer Online is not the same tool as ArcGIS Explorer (desktop). The later is a Windows desktop virtual globe.)

2. Use the GIS to teach a curricular concept that has a geographic component with readily available data. While this may sound like a “no-brainer”, GIS can be used to support the instruction of nearly any biology, Earth Systems, history or anthropology topic. Many topics in math, technology, English, and other social sciences can also be greatly enhanced. Pick an obvious and straight-forward topic that clearly needs a map, at least the first time you use a GIS. If you use ArcGIS Explorer Online, use the Search tool to discover available data before you get too far into lesson planning.

3. What level of integration works the best? Will a simple interactive map work the best? Will you present the map/concept to students or send the students out to the web on their own computers? Perhaps you need more and want to add “Map Notes” to denote specific locations in ArcGIS Explorer Online. Need to add a photo to a Map Note to really drive home the concept? Or, do you need the Cadillac solution: create a full presentation in ArcGIS Explorer Online? Consider what you need the GIS to do, in order to meet your pedagogical goals. Keep it simple the first time and then build on what you learn.

4. Plan ahead. If you decide to use ArcGIS Explorer Online, create an account at ArcGIS.com ahead of time. This will allow you to create your maps or presentations and save them online, allowing you to login from school and make your presentation with ease. Be sure to test your map or presentation sooner than the day you need it. Why? Not all schools have the required browser plug-in, Microsoft Silverlight, installed. This plug-in must be installed and correctly working before you can access ArcGIS Explorer Online.

5. Discover your personal learning network at the forums. If you run into trouble the Esri Education Community has many learning resources and places to collaborate with other educators. For example, post your issue to the new Esri Education Discussions Forums for suggestions from other users and Esri staff. You can also search the Education Community blog, containing hundreds of ideas for using GIS in the classroom.

Other useful resources:
* Getting Started with ArcGIS Explorer Online (2010 version)

* ArcGIS Explorer Blog

- Tom Baker, Esri Education Manager


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Is GIS in schools “standard” in your state?

State curriculum standards guide if not dictate what will or can be taught in many U.S. K-12 classrooms. As a result, concepts and topics, not appearing in the standards are often not taught by the majority of teachers. Once in a while a researcher takes it upon themselves to review the state of geospatial tools in state standards. It has been a few years since the question was last asked, “Where in your state’s K-12 curriculum standards does GIS or geospatial technology appear?” and it seems it may be time to ask once more.

The new Education Community forums are now asking, “Where is GIS in your state’s K-12 curriculum standards?” If you know GIS, GPS, or remote sensing is identified in any of your state’s curriculum standards, take a few moments and post a comment. In some states, GIS is appearing in geography and earth science. In other places, GIS is clearly called for in technical education and instructional technology programs. You certainly don’t need to know everywhere that GIS is present in your standards. However, if everyone reports what they know, our community will paint a pretty nice picture of where GIS in educational standards.

Join the conversation and post your thoughts to the new Education Community forums!

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Geography Awareness Week: Studying Freshwater

Happy Geography Awareness Week! Since 1987, the National Geographic Society has promoted this event to show that geography education is relevant to a whole host of issues in our world, and to illustrate how to teach about these issues in practical ways. Through those years, Esri has supported Geography Awareness Week by illustrating how GIS can be effectively used for instructing students of all ages with dynamic maps, geographic inquiry, and sound content. This year, the theme is freshwater. GIS has long been used for years for freshwater research and makes an excellent teaching tool as well. GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared.

Begin with the Esri EdCommunity Geography Awareness Week resource page on:

This resource features videos, web mapping, lessons on stormwater, watersheds, water use, and floods. How does the stream in Colorado, Missouri River in North Dakota, and the Savannah River in Georgia compare in terms of vegetation on the stream bank, amount of flow, and nearby landforms? Why?

Learn about Mapping Freshwater with our colleague Charlie Fitzpatrick’s guidance on the Esri EdCommunity blog:

Charlie shows how to use ArcGIS Online to make water-related maps. Try it! Search http://www.arcgis.com for water related content, and you will soon be analyzing water from the local to global scale:

Watch Charlie Fitzpatrick’s webinar on the Community Atlas program, ArcGIS Explorer Online, and freshwater, on:

Search for “water” in the ArcLessons library of lessons:

You can also search for GIS in education case studies that relate to “Water”:

Be sure to read about Mr. Obenhaus’ students in “Combining Math, Science, and GIS” who use GIS and other technologies and field work to study freshwater.

How will you use GIS to study freshwater and raise awareness about geography and this precious resource?

- Joseph Kerski and Tom Baker, Esri Education Managers

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Esri EdCommunity Webinar: Thursday, Oct 21

The Esri GIS Education Community is pleased to provide free GIS webinars for K-12 and informal educators. We invite you to register below for the next webinar.

Quick Start GIS: Free Web-based Mapping for Educators
Thursday 21 October 2010
Time: 9:00PM Eastern/8:00PM Central/7:00PM Mountain/6:00PM Pacific
Location: Included in confirmation email

Details: New to GIS? Discover how to use powerful online mapping tools in ArcGIS Online to examine local-to-global phenomena. Experienced with GIS and wondering how to tap into “the cloud”? Discover how to integrate desktop with web-based GIS to get the best of both worlds! Join Dr. Joseph Kerski as we investigate 3 hazards from 2010–the Gulf Oil Spill, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, and the Haiti earthquake, emphasizing how to teach and learn with web GIS and desktop GIS.

Learn more and register online today.

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Who Are You? A Community Directory for GIS Educators

Find colleagues, network with other GIS educators, and share your successes with others! If you haven’t yet created a Profile at the Esri Education Community, browse the Profile Directory (without logging in). Search the Profile Directory to discover educators who use Twitter or people who teach with GIS in elementary school. Use the Profile Directory to see who is nearby, with our interactive map.

To create or update your profile, use your Esri Global Id to login (or create an account). A login is available across the Esri EdCommunity in the upper-right corner.

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Earth Science Week 2009

October 11-17 is Earth Science Week (“ESW”), organized by the American Geological Institute. The purpose is to encourage people to learn about the natural world and examine the geosciences. This year, particular attention is being given to climate. ESRI is proud to be a sponsor and supporter of ESW. Educators can acquire an ESW Toolkit, which includes a CD from ESRI.

Meanwhile, there are also materials available for download and interaction right from the ESRI EdCommunity ESW page. We’ve broken it down into a quick presentation about what’s GIS, about the use of GIS to study earth science, and the use of GIS to study climate in particular. You’ll find a series of videos, produced and narrated by Joseph Kerski, introducing landscapes in the field plus a couple of explorations of climate and weather patterns. You can see examples of lessons that you can do with ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Explorer, AEJEE, or even just a web browser. The most recent lesson (highlighted in this blog a month ago) uses ArcGIS Explorer and sea surface temperature observations from NASA to begin seeking patterns over time. A classic lesson, of great concern to those in low-lying coastal regions, is found in the “Water World” lesson in Module#7 of Book#2 from the Our World GIS Education series.

It’s easy to think that humans rule the world. One need only watch the headlines for the latest storm, earthquake, or tsunami to recognize that we don’t control everything. And, while events at local scales may not generate big headlines, a solid grasp of earth science is tied intimately to personal lives and to living in a sustainable fashion. Using GIS is key to understanding the relationships between and integration of natural processes with human conditions.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI Schools Program Manager

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