It is important for teachers to find ways to LFU is a way for teachers to support learners by allowing them to situate their knowledge so that concepts will be easily accessible when they require it (Edelson, 2001). Using place based education has benefits beyond simply learning new software. Students need to be able to bridge the gap between the real and digital worlds (Perkins et al, 2010). It is valuable to teach students how to use GIS when it comes to place-based learning because it gives them a tangible experience that they can relate to. It is important that students establish spatial awareness. Perkins et al (2010) demonstrates that students are able to improve their understanding on spatial awareness and grasp geographical primitives using place specific exercises with GIS. Perkins et al (2010) further states that GIS can be used as an effective classroom tool to topics in areas such as ecology.
The Create-a-World project is an activity that I wish to explore a bit more in my own teaching practice. The goal of the Create-a-World project is to have the students formulate a hypothesis and collect and evaluate data as well as create visualization of that data using data analysis tools. As Edelson (2001) explains, Create-a-World allows students to refine their inquiry skills and participate in guided investigation activites. As a result, students will be engaged in something meaningful to them that incorporates a wide variety of skills sets.
Fortunately, I had am quite familiar with GIS software, as I took a few courses in this area in my undergraduate degree. I used ArcGIS at the grade 7 level to map out ancient civilizations with my students as well as for making maps to visualize environmental issues. When I first took GIS and digital cartography courses, the software was not very user friendly, and it would take hours of trouble shooting to get the right projection that you were looking for. There seems to be an explosion of GIS software now that is very intuitive and user friendly. Creating GIS maps is something that does not require a professional anymore. Learners are able to experiment with GIS at a very young age and develop some very interesting maps.
Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385
Perkins, N., Hazelton, E., Erickson, J., & Allan, W. (2010). Place-based education and geographic information systems: Enhancing the spatial awareness of middle school students in Maine. Journal of Geography, 109(5), 213-218.