Teaching with a GIS using existing grade 7–12 curricula
Stephen Castlebury Brown, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, United States
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry . Awarded
As Geographic Information Systems (GIS) become less expensive and easier to use, the demand for individuals knowledgeable of this technology increases. Associated with this is the current and future necessity of a public who understands the wide range of technical proficiencies needed for accurate GIS mapping. On a nationwide basis, GIS education in K–12 schools is rare. In the few instances where a school teaches students about these technologies, it is usually led by a single teacher and is not taught on a school-wide basis. This situation exists despite some research indicating that a classroom GIS might enhance the learning of students. Two primary barriers to teacher use and acceptance of a classroom GIS have been identified. First, most teachers lack any training in the use of a GIS. Secondly, there is conflict over focusing upon teaching about the use of a GIS or teaching with a GIS. Beginning in August of 1996 and concluding in August of 1998, nine separate GIS education programs were conducted for a variety of youths and adult educator audiences. Observations of participant's interactions with the GIS program ArcView would lead to the development of a demonstration curriculum and GIS application. To overcome institutional and educational barriers to youth GIS education, a curriculum partly adapted from existing materials and partly created from original materials was developed in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). A corresponding GIS application was developed to teach about a GIS while instructing with a GIS. The curriculum was distributed for use on CD-ROM and called Georom. The hypertext curriculum provided lessons and exercises that addressed National Science Education Standards and was accessed using an Internet web browser. The curriculum included World Wide Web links to Internet sites with more information about specific topics. Modifications were made to ArcView's Graphical User Interface (GUI) that maintained the general appearance of its standard GUI, but increased its functionality for classroom use. It was observed that the availability and premise of the hypertext curriculum and GIS application increased school administrator acceptance of classroom GIS education. However, the curriculum and GIS application is still not a completely acceptable alternative to quality inservice education on GIS for many teachers.
Brown, S.C. Teaching with a GIS using existing grade 7–12 curricula. Ph.D. thesis, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
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