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Thursday, April 16, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: Middle Schoolers Edit OSM, Research Agenda, Field Trips for Elementary Students

Teaching Middle School Girls About Geography via OpenStreetMap

A interesting tweet prompted me to contact Carolyn Fish (@cartofish), a geography PhD student at Penn State. She tweeted this last week:
Teaching middle school girls how to edit @openstreetmap @psugeography's Supporting Young Women in Geography Day! They had such a great time!
So I asked her about what she did and how she did it.
Bellefonte Area Middle School in OpenStreetMap
I am so glad you saw the tweet about Supporting Young Women in Geography (SYWIG) Day! SYWIG has been an event the Support Women in Geography (SWIG) organization in the Department of Geography has been organizing for many years. This year we hosted two schools, Moshannon Valley and Bellefonte middle schools with 28 middle school girls. The girls had a chance to experience and be exposed to all of the sub-fields of geography. 
I, along with Dr. Clio Andris, organized the GIS portion of the day. Clio introduced the girls to different types of maps and broadly explained the concept of GIS. The girls had fun identifying spatial patterns in the thematic maps Clio showed. I think it allowed them to think about geography in a different way than they probably have been taught in school. 
I organized the OpenStreetMap editing. I had opened openstreetmap.org and logged in as myself on all of the computers in our computer lab. I also had opened the wiki page where they could search for tags for things they might want to map. I explained broadly what OpenStreetMap was and they all seemed to understand that it was very similar to Wikipedia. I also explained that very few women edit the map and that they were helping out the mapping community with their local expertise. I told them they could map anything they wanted. I showed them very basically how to put a point and a polygon on the map. They didn't need much more instruction. I figured I would spend most of the time going around the room troubleshooting problems like all GIS instructors tend to do in undergraduate classes, but there was very little instruction needed.  
In general, because both of the schools are located in very rural places, their hometowns had not be thoroughly mapped. Neither of the schools had been placed on the map, and nearly all the businesses in their respective towns were not there until the girls digitized them last week. The girls had a ton of fun digitizing these places that have until now been ignored.  
It was interesting to overhear the girls talk about privacy. Some of them wanted to map out each other's homes. They had a few impromptu discussions about what that might mean when they wrote "Sarah's House" on a newly drawn polygon. I found this to be the most interesting. As a part of the GIS/geography community, I always find it interesting to think about how people outside my field think about geo-privacy. The girls were well aware that showing the world where each other lived might be a problem. In the end they all agreed not to put anyone's name on anything they digitized.  
The girls never seemed bored, all of them were highly engaged. I ended the session by telling them they could go and edit the map on their own with their own logins. I'm not sure how many will do it, but even if they don't, several places have now been mapped in rural PA that weren't there before!

A Research Agenda for Geospatial Technologies and Learning

The article by a number of well known GIS educators/researchers is online behind a paywall. Here's the abstract:
Knowledge around geospatial technologies and learning remains sparse, inconsistent, and overly anecdotal. Studies are needed that are better structured; more systematic and replicable; attentive to progress and findings in the cognate fields of science, technology, engineering, and math education; and coordinated for multidisciplinary approaches. A proposed agenda is designed to frame the next generation of research in this field, organized around four foci: (1) connections between GST and geospatial thinking; (2) learning GST; (3) curriculum and student learning through GST; and (4) educators’ professional development with GST. Recommendations for advancing this agenda are included.
I found these points of particular interest:
  • This is a good time to gather data on these issues, with the widespread use of online and mobile GIS platforms and their ability to lower the barriers of use for students and teachers
  • A virtual center for research on geospatial technology in education could help guide and sustain research on the topic. The authors suggest partnering with the National Center for Research in Geography Education (NCRGE), a relatively new organization.

Story Map or Infographic?

I don't much care what you call Scaling Mt. Everest, an interactive graphic from the Washington Post. I  found it interesting, informative and yes, I really wanted to reach the top! (You can travel from the top down, or the bottom up.)
Near the summit of Everest in the WaPo infographic

Problems with How GIS is Taught

That's the title from a discussion started by a graduate student on Reddit/GIS last week.
...I can't help but be frustrated by the disconnect between what i'm being taught (and having to teach) in the classroom and what employers want. GIS classes teach things like how to determine the best animal corridors, or how to estimate the likelihood of land slides. While rarely making mention of model builder/arcpy and not even thinking about python [sic] in general.
Are you aware of any innovation in the teaching of GIS? Is it addressing these and related concerns?

Most Interesting Undergrad Geography Courses

This is a list of most unique modules (classes) at UK schools. Several are remote sensing related. Shall we put together a U.S. list?
Here at Geographical, we laud the multifaceted nature and widespread relevance of geography as a discipline. To celebrate, we have compiled a list of six of the most unique modules available to undergraduate geography students who are starting in the field.

15 Uses of Beacon Technology in Education

The slideshare from networking and security provider Extreme Networks recaps some obvious and not so obvious uses of beacons in education. We are just at the beginning of beacon revolution in any industry so far as I can tell.

Many of the uses suggested parallel the uses of QR codes in education. Basically, information is provided when a students is "near" a location. The big differentiator? Beacons can track location more passively than QR codes, which must be scanned by the user's device.

MOOCs Teach gvSIG Beginning in May

gvSIG for Users is a series of MOOCs offered in English by the gvSIG Association in collaboration with GISMAP. Each MOOC requires about 30 hours of work. There's a free certificate for completing each one and a fee-based version for those working toward an official gvSIG User Certificate.

The MOOCs:
  • Module 1: “Introduction to GIS” (starting on the 4th of May 2015)
  • Module 2: “Layer Editing” (starting on the 25th of May 2015)
  • Module 3: “Raster Analysis” (starting on Autumn 2015)

Still Time to Apply to CSULB MSGISc

This from Suzanne P. Wechsler at California State University Long Beach (CSULB):
California State University Long Beach (CSULB) Department of Geography is still accepting applications for our Masters of Science in Geographic Information Science (MSGISci). While April 15th was the priority deadline, we have extended the 2015-2016 cohort application period through June 1st.

The MSGISci is a 1-year, 30-unit MS degree program. Classes are offered on weeknights and weekends to accommodate working professionals.  Please visit www.beachgis.com.
Why the special shout out? Suzanne is one of three (count them, three!) girls from my  elementary school outside of Boston who are currently successful GIS practitioners. Must be something in the Aberjona River water.

Story Map Field Trips for Elementary Students

The new offerings from Maps101 are aimed at elementary school students. There are now a total of 18 Field Trips available via subscription to schools. Sample Field Trips for older students are here.

It does not look like any of new offerings, which cover fossils, vegetables, zoo animals, fruit, monarch butterflies and the seas, are available to explore. You can get a quiz for the fossil field trip one if you provide your contact information.

Other Post(s) this Week at Ignite Education

New Options in Online Geospatial Learning: Discover Spatial