Category Archives: education

Considering Spatial Citizenship

I’ve just completed Day 1 of a SPACIT meeting, the semi-annual gathering of partners working on this Comenius funded project. Very interesting ideas coupled with very ambitious plans! Combining GIS&T, geography, philosophy, politics, the act of “participating” – or engagement, pedagogy and teacher professional development, communication, and other technology, especially via geomedia. Here’s a recent paper, GI and Spatial Citizenship (pdf) authored by 3 of the lead partners, Inga Gryl, Thomas Jekel, and Karl Donert.

I’m contributing on behalf of NCGE, and I have much to learn from these discussions. And did I mention we’ve gathered in Salzburg, Austria, at the university where the GI Forum and AGIT is about to happen?  Geo everywhere.


California Geographic Alliance, spatial reasoning article, new website

The California Geographic Alliance (CGA) has released its April newsletter, and in it I wrote an item about spatial reasoning.  CGA has been active on Facebook too.  Their old website still has other resources up, as they transition to the new one.  Geographic Alliances are organizations that exist in every state, though some are more actives than others.  Originally launched by National Geography and still strongly associated with them, they’re frequently a great source of professional development for geography teachers.  So is our online program in spatial literacy at the University of Redlands!

cool visualization for scale, size and distance

For scanning spatial scales from atomic to astronomical, check out this new Magnifying the Universe. The scrolling exponential bar in the lower right is helpful too.

h/t to Neatorama, where I always find good things.

using memory and imagery to get kids to think about “place”

The last assignment for my EDUC 616 students has been to create their own “When I Was 10” maps.  I always use that age based on the the ideas about the geographies of childhood, inspired by the guidance of Edith Cobb (The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood) and Gary Nabhan and Stephen Trimble (The Geography of Childhood / Why Children Need Wild Places).  Basically, the age around 5th grade, more or less.

My students are making digital or paper versions of their maps.  They’ll likely all use planar perspectives, though in other versions of this assignment I’ve stipulated that students *must* include elements drawn from additional (oblique, frontal) perspectives as well.  Here’s a simple one on Flickr where the mapmaker used transparent areas to indicate location, then annotated.

In the digital world, we can jump down to street view for an immediate frontal perspective.  Here’s a website for a childhood walk that had the idea for narrated descriptions of such places.  Esri is promoting the idea of “story maps too;” their ideas here can readily adapted for youth-oriented projects.

Happy to have stumbled across GIS Stack Exchange

New to me: GIS Stack Exchange. A great site for questions, answers, and thoughtful discussions!

spatial thinking making its way into popular media

Slowly but surely, the ideas and understanding about spatial thinking (cognition, intelligence, abilities, skills, literacy, habits of mind, etc.;  You name it, it’s relevant and connected) are making their way out of the academic file cabinets and into circles of more common knowledge.  Earlier this week a colleague of mine from Esri (Tom Baker, @trbaker) forwarded this around, a Psychology Today article about our undervaluing of spatial intelligence.   It was written by Jonathan Wai (@JonathanLWai), a psychologist whose work I first became familiar with through a National Science Board publication (2010) on Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators.

These documents identify the need to seek out under-recognized spatial talent in order to avoid missing the top fraction of those who would otherwise excel. But I firmly believe that it’s an overlooked component of all education, for all students.

TeachSpatial site revised with new content

The original site has been updated with new resources and ideas for teaching content that has a spatial focus.  In particular, check out the spatial filter for the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) resource content and the (US, K-12) standards browser.

Only over an open bottle might one want to start debating what’s a spatial “concept” and what’s not…

Nice work, Karl.