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Monday, December 12, 2011

Geocube: A Best Website for Teaching and Learning?

Geocube was cited as a Best Website for Teaching and Learning site by the American Association of School Librarians. It was in the Curriculum Sharing category. I'd not heard of it before, so I checked it out. Here's the About information from the site:
Geocube…… re-inventing the way to explore Geography
The world of Geography at your fingertips and just a mouse click away!
Geocube is an attractive online resource about Geography. Geocube is based on the principle of the Rubik Cube with six faces and 54 topics. It is a virtual and easily accessible website which is available online for free. Move the Geocube around with your mouse and explore the faces and topics.Geocube provides an accessible way to read, see and watch what Geography is and geographers do. This is a European initiative developed by HERODOT, the European Network for Geography in Higher Education and is available to anyone who is interested in Geography.
While visually interesting and fun to play with, the site is more flash than substance. A virtual Rubik Cube floats in the center of the site and visitors navigate to different topics by spinning it. Each face has a theme (section in Geocube lingo): Earth from All Angles, Useful Geographies, The Fascinating Earth, Living Together, etc. Each face expands to a nine segment tic-tac-toe board of nine topics (subsection in Geocube lingo).

Living Together, for example, includes subsections on economic development, pollution, language, mobility, health, migration, ethnicity and religion, literacy and poverty. The health section includes a short, dull essay on health and epidemiology. There are also some images in a gallery (insect, ambulance, a picture of the sun viewed through open hands) with no captions or details. I have no idea why they are here, nor do I find suggestions on how instructors or students might use them. There are videos, too. None that I saw had any sound, nor captions or titles. Curious.

The "How to Use" video explains how to navigate the cube, but does not suggest a meaningful path through the content for students or guidance for instructors.

The explanation for this is not on the site, but can be found in a slide deck from 2009 explaining the goal of this project as a tool to promote geography, not share curricula or educate. I think the site does promote geography well, but I'm not sure how an educator would use it in course/curricula development.