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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.

Colleges Tackle Spatial

Clarkson to Monitor Bridge with BIM/GIS

Clarkson University is partnering with the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority (OBPA) to test and monitor the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge which runs between New York State and Canada.
Clarkson's bridge engineering and structural health monitoring group, made up of faculty engineers and graduate and undergraduate student researchers, will gather data for the OBPA through the use of trend-setting building information modeling and geographic information systems (BIM/GIS) techniques, sensing technologies, and monitoring capabilities, according to the school.
Washington College GIS Lab Serves Town 

Stewart Bruce of the Washington College Geographic Information Systems lab gave a presentation on the work the lab has done mapping its hometown of Chesterton, MD. He outlined other ways it could help the city.
Bruce said the lab, which is located in the Dixon Drive business park, has 14 full-time employees and about 70 part-time student workers. Because of its location, the lab pays town real estate taxes, he said.
Spatial Across the Curriculum at Redlands
The university [of Redlands] wants to “fuse spatial thinking throughout the curriculum,” said Professor Steven Moore, the head of the university’s Center for Spatial Studies, which was founded last year.
I think that's the model all higher should be exploring. "Spatial studies" is currently the schools most popular minor.

USC Online Program Receives USGIF Accreditation
USGIF announced the online graduate certificate in geospatial intelligence from the Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) at the University of Southern California (USC) as the 12th collegiate program to receive USGIF accreditation.
Bringing STEM, GIS to Locate 15 Conference

Locate15 and Destination Spatial will welcome students, teachers and those interested in STEM to the conference's open exhibit day, March 10 2015 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre 10am to 5pm (press release).

Topics, though its not clear they are hands on, include tackling:

Topics will include:
  • An introduction to Queensland Globe
  • Neighbourhood safety
  • How hazard ready should you be?
  • Landscapes in the Australian Curriculum Year 8: QTopo – Queensland’s online topographic mapping tool.
  • Your Z Day plan? Preparing for a zombie apocalypse.
  • Should we build the next amusement park on your street?
I like that the person who put the program together, Mick Law, Senior Project Officer, Queensland Spatial Information Council, Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Queensland. was a teacher, worked at Esri and now is with the government. Should GIS events consider hosting this sort of event in connection with a conference?

QGIS Training

Self-paced QGIS Training

North River Geographic's Randall Hale now offers a self-paced QGIS intro course for $100. It evolved from an either hour face to face workshop.
Through popular demand the class is now being offered online as a self paced class for $100. You have the chance throughout the class to talk to the Instructor over email, google hangout, or online chat. The class will be updated with each release of QGIS. Part of the proceeds of the class will be returned to the QGIS project. So take a class and help fund the development of QGIS.
There's even a coupon to make it even less expensive!

QGIS Uncovered

Steven Bernard offers 23 videos as part of his free QGIS Uncovered channel on YouTube. Who is he? Why he's the Interactive Design Editor at the Financial Times.

QGIS Self-paced MOOC

The course started this week and per Phil Davis:
4000 new learners of QGIS and one completer on the first day of class!
NSF Funds AAG/Geographic Alliance Research in Geo Ed
The National Geographic Society’s Education Foundation has awarded the AAG a grant to involve several Geographic Alliances in the work of the National Center for Research in Geography Education, a research consortium led by the AAG and Texas State University.
Last month, the Coordinators of the Alabama, California, Iowa, and Kansas Geographic Alliances met over two days with the NCRGE Co-Directors, Michael Solem and Richard Boehm, and several researchers associated with two current NCRGE research initiatives funded by the National Science Foundation: GeoProgressions, a capacity-buidling project for learning progressions research, and GeoSTEM (GeoSpatial Teaching Enrichment Modules), a pilot project that is supporting the Esri-ConnectED initiative by creating ArcGIS Online-based resources, materials and tools for STEM teacher education programs.
Crowdsourcing Competitions Can Backfire

This is slightly off topic, but I'm a big proponent of getting students involved in geo-related crowdsourcing efforts. It's a great authentic learning activity. But, as a new paper suggests, things can go wrong.

Research (pdf) suggests that contests that crowdsource can prompt bad behavior.
Crowdsourcing offers unprecedented potential for solving tasks efficiently by tapping into the skills of large groups of people. A salient feature of crowdsourcing—its openness of entry—makes it vulnerable to malicious behavior. Such behavior took place in a number of recent popular crowdsourcing competitions. We provide game-theoretic analysis of a fundamental tradeoff between the potential for increased productivity and the possibility of being set back by malicious behavior. Our results show that in crowdsourcing competitions malicious behavior is the norm, not the anomaly—a result contrary to the conventional wisdom in the area. Counterintuitively, making the attacks more costly does not deter them but leads to a less desirable outcome. These findings have cautionary implications for the design of crowdsourcing competitions.
Here's a very readable story of what happened at the DARPA Shredder Challenge, the event that prompted the paper. The story made me think of the Kobayashi Maru because I'm a geek.

Education Awards, Scholarships

Hexagon Geospatial 2015 U.S. Education Challenge 

Basically, it's a contest for a professor and student to win a trip to Hexagon Live in Las Vegas June 2-4. Professors can enter with more than one student, but only one professor and student may win. It's unclear to me whether the research project that uses Hexagon Geospatial software originates with the faculty member or the student. Maybe it does not matter. Deadline: April 24. Do note these rules:
  • Must be over 21 to participate. 
  • Winners agree "they will participate in positive social media promotion of HxGN LIVE prior to, during and after the event as requested by Hexagon Geospatial."
Canadian Awards and Scholarships

I count nine different Student Awards & Scholarships from the Canadian geospatial community including a fleet of 58 from Esri Canada. Check out the list at Geomatics Canada.

High School GIS

Loudon County Geospatial Semester Video

I noted the an award for the Geospatial Semester last month. This week Loudon County public schools offers a video (below) about the dual enrollment program with James Madison University. 

Two parts of the video are noteworthy:

(1) About a minute into the four minute video a student explains basically that geospatial technology is taking data and making maps. See also: the Geospatial Semester Replication Guide. I think the document dates from 2013; it appeared on GeoNet's education section this week.

(2) There is a quote about geospatial technology being the fastest growth field behind nanotechnology. I could not find a source for that with a quick Web search. 

GANS Seeks Nova Scotia GIS Practitioners for Outreach Project

The Geomatics Association of Nova Scotia (GANS) is looking for Nova Scotia high school graduates who have been working in the geospatial industry for 10 years or less, willing to help GANS promote the geomatics industry. The idea is to identify graduates of high schools now at work in the geospatial industry and produce posters about the individuals for their alma maters to promote the field. Details.

Kingsford High School on ArcGIS 10.2

An article in the local paper discusses how students at Kingsford High School in Michigan are using ArcGIS to study environmental issues including tree and stream  management. So what is GIS? The article does not define it, but Robert Martonen, KHS science teacher is paraphrased.
He added that GIS can basically be used to analyze data with respect to any factor and locations that are geographically referenced with GPS coordinates.
Apparently it's important that students work on the latest version. The tech coordinator is looking to upgrade to 10.2.5. I wonder why they are not using ArcGIS Online.

Landscape of Liberation: The African American Geography of the Civil War in Tennessee 

A new interactive map highlights many of the changes in African-American life in Tennessee. A local paper notes:
This fully functional (and free) geographic information system application shows 150 wartime sites—refugee camps, early freedmen schools and churches, and recruitment sites for the more than 20,000 black Union soldiers who enlisted from Tennessee. ...
The application, a collaborative project between the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the Fullerton Geospatial Laboratory at Middle Tennessee State University, and the State of Tennessee Office of Information Resources, was built with funding from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.
I was expecting a story map, but got a rather complex ArcGIS application.