Geotechnologies in Education

This blog discusses the challenges, benefits, spatial data, training events, books, ideas, curriculum, and other topics related to the use of geotechnologies (Geographic Information Systems, Global Positioning Systems, Virtual Globes, Remote Sensing) in education.

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Joseph Kerski serves as Geographer at the USGS and as instructor for primary and secondary schools and universities. He creates curricula that uses geotechnologies (Geographic Information Systems (GIS), GPS, Virtual Globe, webmapping), supports the implementation of GIS at all levels of society through the provision of technical support, educational support, materials support, and through publishing articles, web resources, books, and through teaching and training, fosters educational partnerships, teaches 40 workshops annually, and presents at 20 conferences each year. These workshops are tailored for government, business, and educational users of spatial data, and most of them emphasize how to use USGS resources and about GIS, GPS, and remote sensing technologies. Joseph teaches hands-on and online GIS courses at the University of Denver, at Denver Public Schools, and at Sinte Gleska University. He conducts research on how and why teachers implement GIS into their curricula, and the effectiveness of GIS in teaching and learning. Joseph holds three geography degrees...but is still learning.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

June 26

Folks:

The Global Shoreline Data that MDA Federal (formerly Earthsat) produced for NGA using global 2000 LANDSAT orthoimagery is now available for public download. This effort represents the most accurate global shoreline product (~1:100k). This new shoreline is an approximation of the High Water Line; it is NOT a Mean High Water Line since the source data have not been tide coordinated.

Why would you in education care about this data set? Read on. I have a lesson where I ask students to determine if the largest earthquake for a certain year is on or off shore. If one uses the generalized world continental outlines, the earthquake looks like about 2 km off the shore of Peru. However, if one uses a higher resolution shoreline, it could very well be ON the shore...big difference! It fits in well with what we are all striving for -- having students be critical of the data, and realizing that the scale in which the data was created matters! Also,
this data set would be useful for any type of regional study that you're doing where you want students to examine coastal processes.

The data are in a series of zipped shapefiles by region on the following site: http://www.nga.mil/portal/site/nga01/index.jsp?epi-content=GENERIC&itemID=9328fbd8dcc4a010VgnVCMServer
3c02010aRCRD&beanID=1629630080&viewID=Article



June 20

Folks:

The wonderful PRISM group at Oregon State University has released new 800 meter data sets on temperature and precipitation for 1971 through 2000 for the USA!

http://www.ocs.orst.edu/prism/products/matrix.phtml?vartype=tmax&view=maps


These are free data sets with no licensing restrictions. They are in Grid format that you can use in a GIS for further analysis, or just examine the web maps for a quick study.

June 14

Folks:

1) I found out from the fine folks at ESRI Canada that a recent article in Forbes highlights the increase in Internet-based map tools and also provides some great examples about how GIS is used: whether you're looking for dog-friendly hotels or tracking the avian flu virus, map software suddenly is hot tech.
http://www.forbes.com/global/2006/0605/062.html


2) The Census Bureau has released two special data products for the Gulf Coast area affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These socioeconomic and demographic products may be of interest if you teach there OR if you want to use the data inside a GIS to analyze population change. Why did some counties see an emigration and other an immigration? Really fascinating to look at the patterns.

First product are population estimates for the hurricane-affected areas along the Gulf Coast as of 1/1/06. These estimates provide population figures before and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the region last fall. Estimates cover the (117) counties designated by FEMA as eligible for public assistance.
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/emergencies/impacted_gulf_estimates.html


Second product are demographic, socioeconomic, and housing characteristics for those 117 counties as collected by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Products/Profiles/gulf_coast/index.htm

June 13

Folks:

1) Google upgrades mapping tools and satellite imagery: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=2068608&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312

2) New sources for USGS topographic quadrangles (still useful for digital data such as DRGs, DOQs, DLGs, and DEMs and other layers still in 7.5-minute format) - below:
Geomart: http://www.geomart.com Map Express now has PDF versions of our indexes online (1:24K only). You can even download copies of the pdf's onto your computer. http://mapexp.com - Click on "Free State Indexes" on the left, then click the pdf link.

My favorite USGS indexes are still on
http://www.maplink.com


We also have our quad indexes on
http://store.usgs.gov


June 8, 2006

Folks:

It looks like TopoZone now incorporates clickable feature names (probably pulling from the Geographic Names Information System). So, if you are browsing through the topographic maps, you can click on schools, hospitals, mountain peaks, and other features, and the name will appear at the top. Perhaps they are still populating it, as the coverage doesn't seem to be complete (it was fine in Virginia where I looked, but was spotty in Colorado). Still, a very nice enhancement.

I'd like to alert the group that www.webgis.com is an excellent free source for USGS digital line graphs (vector rivers, transportation, boundaries, and other layers), land use, and DEM data. It is particularly valuable as a back-up data source when the web-based services such as the seamless.usgs.gov server is down. One particularly nice feature is that you have a choice on either latitude-longitude or UTM output for most layers.

Finally, I'd like to mention that we're almost at maximum capacity for the GeoTech Colorado 2006 event (http://www.gisetc.com/calwood.html) to be held in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains at the end of July. If you were thinking about attending, you'll need to sign up as soon as possible or risk seeing "full" on the above web page. We are looking forward to working with many of you on this list.

Have an excellent day!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

New UK Movie on GIS in Education
Some of our excellent UK colleagues have created a wonderful 15 minute video about GIS in the classroom made for Teachers TV. It features Digital Worlds GIS in a secondary school with kids of around 13 years old: http://www.teachers.tv/subjectBlockVideo.do?transmissionBlockId=315524&zoneId=2&transmissionProgrammeId=315546

The opening scene is one of the funniest and yet most captivating that I have ever seen in a GIS-related video - a classic moment!If you register with the Teachers TV site, you can even download the video for use in your own training events. We received permission from the creator of the video to do this. It ends up at just over 38 MB in size. Enjoy!

Canadian Cartography Blog
I recommend spending some time on the Canadian Cartographic Association Blog:http://ccablog.blogspot.com/ Perusing this blog, you can find out about the openstreetmap.org, urban sprawl from space maps, global-i for socioeconomic data, a public project to map Manchester, England this month, Canadian GIS data, mapping ship locations around the world, mapping cab locations in San Francisco, reviews of map services such as Windows Live Local-MapQuest-Yahoo Maps, the UNOSAT initiative to provide satellite imagery and maps to the humanitarian community, Green Maps, and much, much more. A wonderful source of data and ideas.

ArcWeb Explorer Beta from ESRI
Another wonderful resource is the Beta version of ArcWeb Explorer from ESRI, through which you can examine street maps, satellite imagery, and hybrids on: http://www1.arcwebservices.com/explorer/index.jsp

Topozone Update
It looks like TopoZone now incorporates clickable feature names (probably pulling from the Geographic Names Information System). So, if you are browsing through the topographic maps, you can click on schools, hospitals, mountain peaks, and other features, and the name will appear at the top. Perhaps they are still populating it, as the coverage doesn't seem to be complete (it was fine in Virginia where I looked, but was spotty in Colorado). Still, a very nice enhancement.

WebGIS.com
www.webgis.com is an excellent free source for USGS digital line graphs (vector rivers, transportation, boundaries, and other layers), land use, and DEM data. It is particularly valuable as a back-up data source when the web-based services such as the seamless.usgs.gov server is down. One particularly nice feature is that you have a choice on either latitude-longitude or UTM output for most layers.

Geospatialcareers.net
The following site was just placed online:http://www.geospatialcareers.net. This wonderful site is for students and others interested in learning aboutcareers in geospatial technologies. It features career information andprofiles of people who use geospatial technologies. Since people withskills in geospatial technologies are needed in a wide variety of fields, this site was developed to encourage and assist those interested inexploring career options. It is sponsored by the NH Space GrantConsortium in partnership with NH GRANIT and the University of NewHampshire Cooperative Extension. They've done a wonderful job with thisand it will be an excellent addition to career presentations, GIS-basedworkshops, and more.You might even recognize someone you know on the site...me.

Google Earth Enhancement
Google has upgraded its mapping tools and satellite imagery; see article on http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=2068608&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds03122)

New Sources for USGS Topographic Quadrangle Indexes
Topographic quadrangle indexes, still useful for digital spatial data such as DRGs, DOQs, DLGs, and DEMs and other layers still in7.5-minute format).
Geomart: http://www.geomart.com/

Map Express now has PDF versions of the indexes online (1:24K only). You can even download copies of the pdf's onto your computer: http://mapexp.com/ - Click on "Free State Indexes" on the left, then click the pdf link.

My favorite USGS indexes are still on http://www.maplink.com. The USGS also has its quad indexes on http://store.usgs.gov

Forbes Article on GIS
I found out from the fine folks at ESRI Canada that a recent article inForbes highlights the increase in Internet-based map tools and also provides some great examples about how GIS is used: whether you're lookingfor dog-friendly hotels or tracking the avian flu virus, map softwares is hot technology: http://www.forbes.com/global/2006/0605/062.html

The US Census Bureau has released two special data products for the Gulf Coast area affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These socioeconomic and demographic products may be of interest if you teach there OR if youwant to use the data inside a GIS to analyze population change. Why didsome counties see an emigration and other an immigration? Quite fascinating to look at the patterns. First product are population estimates for the hurricane-affected areasalong the Gulf Coast as of 1/1/06. These estimates provide populationfigures before and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the region lastfall. Estimates cover the (117) counties designated by FEMA as eligiblefor public assistance.http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/emergencies/impacted_gulf_estimates.html The second product are demographic, socioeconomic, and housing characteristicsfor those 117 counties as collected by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey: http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Products/Profiles/gulf_coast/index.htm

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Folks:

The goal of the five-year, multimedia campaign – My Wonderful World – is to improve the geographic literacy of young people ages 8-17 by motivating parents and educators to expand geographic learning in school, at home and in their communities. Specifically, the campaign aims to: • Show parents how to help their children learn about the world. • Increase geographic offerings in schools and the resources available to them. • Increase the number of students who take geography-related courses and engage in related activities in school. • Increase the number of community organizations that engage young people in geography-related activities.

The campaign Web site, MyWonderfulWorld.org, provides resources such as suggestions for family activities and ways that parents can work to get more geography into the classroom. The site also provides links to geography games and online adventures for kids and teens, classroom materials for educators, and ways for young and old to test their global IQs. The site also provides tools for communicating to policymakers and education leaders the importance of geographic literacy.

This new campaign hopes to provide many innovative and exciting ways to get people interested in geography. If you are interested in participating, visit the website right away and get started.

Joseph Kerski

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Folks:

I recommend spending some time on the Canadian Cartographic Association Blog:
http://ccablog.blogspot.com/

Perusing this blog, you can find out about the openstreetmap.org, urban sprawl from space maps, global-i for socioeconomic data, a public project to map Manchester, England this month, Canadian GIS data, mapping ship locations around the world, mapping cab locations in San Francisco, reviews of map services such as Windows Live Local-MapQuest-Yahoo Maps, the UNOSAT initiative to provide satellite imagery and maps to the humanitarian community, Green Maps, and much, much more. A wonderful source of data and ideas.

Another wonderful resource is the Beta version of ArcWeb Explorer from ESRI, through which you can examine street maps, satellite imagery, and hybrids on:

http://www1.arcwebservices.com/explorer/index.jsp

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hurricanes. Urban and exurban sprawl. Biodiversity loss. Crime and terrorism. Water quality and availability. Energy resources. Sustainable agriculture. Invasive plant species. Epidemics. Climate change. Earthquakes. Issues and problems of the 21st Century are increasingly complex, cover wider areas, and are beginning to affect our everyday lives.

All of these issues and problems share one thing: They all have to do with a location on, above, or below the Earth's surface. They are all geographic problems. They vary in scale and theme, but if their spatial distribution and relationships can be analyzed, they can be better understood. If they can be better understood, then it is my eternal hope that better decisions will follow.

What tools will decision-makers need to grapple with these complex issues of our times? They will need geographic technology, tools, and methods to deal with geographic issues. These technologies include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and Remote Sensing (RS), and Virtual Globes (VG). The methods revolve around spatial analysis and the process of geographic inquiry: Asking geographic methods, acquiring geographic data, organizing geographic information, analyzing geographic information, and answering geographic questions.

How can we help students learn how to think spatially and to use geotechnologies? That is the purpose of this blog: To discuss resources, tools, ideas, data sets, training, and other topics that will help enable students to use these tools to become wise decision-makers of tomorrow.

GIS provides a technology and method to analyze spatial data, or information about the Earth. The earth’s climate, natural hazards, population, geology, vegetation, soils, land use, and other characteristics can be analyzed in a GIS using computerized maps, aerial photographs, satellite images, databases, and graphs. By analyzing phenomena about the Earth’s hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, a GIS helps people understand patterns, linkages, and trends about our planet.


Since the 1960s, GIS has quietly transformed decision-making in universities, government, and industry by bringing digital spatial data sets and geographic analysis to desktop computers. Geographic Information Sciences (GISc) include Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as well as the disciplines of geography (examining the patterns of the Earth’s people and physical environment), cartography (mapmaking), geodesy (the science of measuring and surveying the Earth), and remote sensing (studying the Earth from space).

GIS is used in three major ways in courses at the elementary, secondary, and university level. First, teaching about GIS dominates at the community college and university level, where courses in methods and theory of GIS are taught in geography, engineering, business, environmental studies, geology, and in other disciplines. Second, teaching with GIS is emphasized at the elementary and secondary level, where GIS is used to teach concepts and skills in earth science, geography, chemistry, biological science, history, and mathematics courses. Finally, GIS is used as an essential research tool in all institutes of higher education in geography, demography, geology, and other disciplines.

The U.S. Labor Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) stated that the most effective way to teach skills is "in context" (U.S. Dept. of Labor 1991). SCANS competencies include identifying resources, working with others, using information, and understanding complex and changing inter relationships. Implementing GIS into the curriculum may encourage students to examine data from a variety of fields. In 2004, the US Secretary of Labor named geotechnologies as one of the three fields most in demand for 21st Century decision-making.

Since the publication of the first national content standards in geography (Geography Education Standards Project 1994), social studies (National Council for the Social Studies, National Task Force for Social Studies Standards 1994), science (National Research Council 1996), and technology (International Society for Technology in Education 2000), educators nationwide have been progressing toward a model of instruction that emphasizes a hands-on, interdisciplinary, research-based learning experience. The national geography standards state, “the power of a GIS is that it allows us to ask questions of data.” Students using this inquiry approach form research questions, develop a methodology, gather and analyze data, and draw conclusions.

The approach with GIS should not be, "How can we get GIS into the curriculum?" but "How can GIS help meet curricular goals?"

Examples of GeoTechnologies In Education

Students using GIS in the curriculum are studying phenomena from the local to global scale. The use of GIS fosters a connection with the community through the acquisition of data and maps and through field work.

With GIS, students can examine the Earth in a new way, through three-dimensional analysis of a watershed, or by examining the Pacific “Ring of Fire” using a map projection that shows all of the Pacific Ocean in one view.

Rhode Island students study the economic impact of rivers in their communities. Other students map and analyze tree species on their school property.

In North Dakota, high school students help state parks use GIS to study and manage their resources. Middle school students map alternative sites for a local landfill.

Idaho students use GIS to examine the history of mining and cemeteries in their community.

In science courses, students use USGS earthquake information on the Internet in a lesson on plate tectonics.

World Geography students examine the climate, vegetation, population, natural hazards, landforms, and political geography of Africa.

Students in Los Angeles map and analyze the ethnic makeup of neighborhoods in
their city over time.

Vermont middle school students use GIS technology, science journals, and photographs to determine the origin and ecological relationship of a local pond to the community.

North Carolina students use GIS to study the history and development of the African American community in their city.



Students use GIS with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to collect coordinates and chemical constituents of local streams, such as pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity.


Starting Points

GIS in Education:
http://education.usgs.gov/common/lessons/gis.html

USGS online aerial photographs and topographic maps:
www.terraserver-usa.com

Educational Applications of GIS:
www.esri.com/k-12

National Atlas
http://nationalatlas.gov

Geography Network
www.geographynetwork.com

Software

ArcExplorer, ArcView, and ArcGIS, by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI): www.esri.com

Idrisi, by Clark Labs at Clark University:
www.clarklabs.org

GeoMedia, by Intergraph Corporation:
www.intergraph.com

MapInfo, by MapInfo Corporation:
www.mapinfo.com

Maptitude, by Caliper Corporation:
www.caliper.com

Events

GIS Day:
www.gisday.com

ESRI hosts an international conference in GIS education each summer in California: www.esri.com/educ

Listserv

TERC hosts an email listserv called EDGIS on this topic. See list.terc.edu/mailman/listinfo/edgis for subscription information.

Books and Lessons

Learning to Think Spatially. 2006. GIS as Support System in the K-12 Curriculum. National Academies Press. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11019.html

Mapping Our World: GIS Lessons for Educators and Community Geography: GIS In Action, both from ESRI Press. http://gis.esri.com/esripress/display/index.cfm?fuseaction=display&websiteID=99

ArcLessons library of GIS-based Lessons:
www.esri.com/arclessons

Training

USGS training for educators:
http://education.usgs.gov/common/lessons/gis.html

List of Training Events:
kangis.org/learn

References

Geography Education Standards Project. 1994. Geography for Life: National Geography Standards. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 272 p.

International Society for Technology in Education. 2000. National Education Technology Standards for Students. Eugene, Oregon: ISTE, 373 p.

National Council for the Social Studies. 1994. Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. Washington, DC: NCSS, 178 p.

National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 262 p.

U. S. Dept. of Labor. 1991. Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). Washington, DC: GPO.