By Lynn Zimmerman
Editor, Teacher Education
Recently, I was at an education conference in Croatia, and one of the presentations was about using geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) technology as teaching tools. The presenters proposed that this technology can be integrated in a variety of ways to create interdisciplinary lessons and projects that are technology-based. Students can learn with the GIS and GPS rather than just learn about it so that they can become producers of knowledge about the physical world around them and not just consumers of information.
One of the connections the presenters made was to the sport of orienteering to promote the development of map-reading skills and navigation. Even though orienteering is usually done low-tech with a compass and a map, higher levels of technology can create a different experience for participants.
Of particular interest for me as a teacher of English as Foreign Language are the ways this type of technology can be used to create authentic (real-life) reading, writing, speaking and listening activities for students. The presenters made a specific point that students’ real life knowledge about nature gained with this technology can easily be represented through the medium of digital story telling, which itself integrates reading, writing, and speaking and uses critical thinking skills as students plan and develop their project.
If anyone has had experience with these types of projects, I’d like to hear about them. Post a comment to this article or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A preliminary list of resources:
Alec Bodzin, GIS and GPS Links, Lehigh University, 2/12/15.
“GIS in Education Resource Sheet,” Utah Rural Schools Association, n.d.
Jennifer Johnston, “Engineering Professor Shares Mapping Technology with Teachers,” MyVU, Vanderbilt University, 8/20/14.
Bianca Bowman, “Teacher Knowledge and Geospatial Technologies,” Conversations on Knowledge for Teaching 2015 Education Technologies: Now and in the Future, n.d.
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