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Monday, March 2, 2015

Teaching the Next Generation of MacGyvers

Image by Erik Strandberg under CC-BY-SA
I recently learned an updated version of the MacGyver TV series is in the works. One twist: the 21st century problem solver will be a woman. And, further details about her are being crowdsourced via a contest. That factoid along with a few things I've been reading have convinced me that today's instructors, whether they teach GIS or history or chemistry should think of themselves as teaching MacGyvers rather than programmers, historians or chemists.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: Esri Launches GeoInquiries, Role Playing as a Teaching Tool, QGIS Training Explodes

Esri GeoInquiries: 15 Minute Lessons

There's a new beta resource for educators on the Esri Education pages, GeoInquiries. Esri's Charlie Fitzpatrick noted them in this article published yesterday about Esri and ConnectED. Designed to be presented by the instructor in ArcGIS Online, the first set are on earth science.
GeoInquiries are designed to be fast and easy-to-use instructional resources that incorporate advanced web mapping technology. Each 15-minute activity in a collection is intended to be presented by the instructor from a single computer/projector classroom arrangement. No installation, fees, or logins are necessary to use these materials and software. 
Currently, Earth science GeoInquiries are in beta and available for field testing. More GeoInquiry collections will be released throughout 2015.
I looked at a few of the lessons. Each is delivered in a several page PDF including a link to an ArcGIS Online map. There are learning objectives, details of the lesson relates to science standards and pointers to Earth science textbook chapters. The documents, all with a creative commons license, have the Esri, Amazon and GIS Etc. logos on them.

Role Playing with Web Maps Teaches Geography

One of proposals role players evaluate in
Tambopata: Who Owns Paradise, an edtech tool
 developed at the University of Wisconsin.
A team at Wisconsin published the paper Who owns paradise? Using web mapping to enhance a geography course exercise about tropical forest conservation (fee versionfree uncorrected pre-print pdf). The edtech tool the paper describes is free to use! Here's the abstract of the paper:
Here we present Tambopata: Who Owns Paradise?, a map-centric, multimedia website created to enrich an educational role playing exercise about biodiversity, conservation, and development in the Amazon (www.geography.wisc.edu/tambopata). The exercise assigns students a character from the Tambopata region of the Peruvian Amazon, and asks them to evaluate four proposed zoning plans from their assigned perspective. Using principles of web cartography, we designed the four proposal maps to communicate complex information and allow for increased exploration. Compared to the previously used static maps, the website increases opportunities for student engagement with the material, incorporates multimedia, and clarifies spatial relationships and land use patterns. The website is available publicly and can be integrated freely into other university and high school courses.
I would have studied this for my edtech course if I'd known about it!

Shark Tank Teaches Fourth Graders Geography

I think this is a creative way to teach geography and provide an authentic experience. Here's what they did in Darien, Illinois:
Fourth graders at The Lane School and their geography-based business plans were thrown into the “Shark Tank” on Thursday as they attempted to impress local tycoons. 
Groups in three classes researched natural resources, local economies and popular attractions in each region of the United States. They applied the information to a business model such as a resort or restaurant, which they pitched to pretend investors.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Craft a More Re-tweetable GeoTweet

There's a tool that predicts which of two different versions of a tweet will "do better," defined as getting more retweets. It's from a pair of researchers from Google and Cornell and appeared last May. I just saw it this week via +Shel Holtz. Here's what the authors say:
We developed an algorithm to predict which version of the "same" announcement an author should choose to get more attention. The main idea is to automatically learn what wording works better by examining a large number of pairs of tweets posted by the same author containing the same url.
It's worth noting the comparison tool uses a simplified version of the algorithm.

I decided to look at some geospatial news tweets from last week. The pairs were not from the same people, but did refer to the same content, a press release.