Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
GIS is not just for geography classes; spatial thinking and spatial data management can help students learn a variety of subjects including history. This free ebook will help history teachers to see how to unlock the power of Geographic Information Systems.
ESRI CEO Jack Dangermond discusses strengthening and investing in stem education with Trish Regan on Bloomberg Television's “Street Smart”. (Source: Bloomberg)
As announced earlier this week, ESRI will be donating ArcGIS organizational accounts to all K-12 schools in the United States, and here is a video of ESRI's CEO Jack Dangermond explaining the importance of spatial thinking in STEM education. President Obama referenced this donation during his speech at the White House's Science Fair. Currently many geography educators are planning new ways to use this to their advantage. Explore what ArcGIS can do, and consider how this might be a part of what you can do with your students (this article is a primer if you don't know what ArcGIS is yet). Click here to request an organizational account for your school.
This is a big announcement from ESRI, home of ArcGIS online and other geospatial tools. They are making ArcGIS online organizational accounts free for all K-12 schools in the United States. As ESRI spokespeople have said, "this will open up ArcGIS Online far beyond just a public account, by permitting more control of sharing, access to more data, engaging much more powerful analyses, supporting apps like Collector or Explorer, integrating with ArcMap and Microsoft Office, enabling login to Community Analyst, and lots more, with still more on the way." Click here to request an organizational account for your school.
In recent decades the state allowed logging — with restrictions — on the plateau above the Snohomish County hillside that collapsed in last weekend’s deadly mudslide.
There are several reasons for mudslides--some are purely a result of physical geography and others are related to land use patterns. This last week's mudslide in Washington state was a combination of the two and although this impacts one place (see on map), it is a good teaching moment to discuss the environmental impacts of land use patterns and resource extraction projects. As seen in this interactive, the river was cutting at the base of the hill, while loggers were clear-cutting at the top of the mountain. Trees help prevent erosion as the roots hold the soil in place--a critical piece to the puzzle in a very rainy climate. With $1 million worth of timber on the slope, logging companies persisted despite objections from the Department of Natural Resources and some restrictions (but in hindsight, those restrictions clearly were not enough).
Questions to Consider: Other than economic worth, what other ways are there to value and evaluate the environment? How could this landscape have been protected and managed better or was this mudslide inevitable?
Elmhurst College’s Skills for the Digital Earth MOOC is a 4-week, online course designed to introduce how location technologies are used in society.
Ever stop to think about how important location is when using your smart phone? This educational MOOC begins with an elementary explanation of how society uses location in a myriad of disciplines. Geography, or rather, "where?" is important to all of us from various perspectives.
Within this MOOC, participants will learn what location technologies are used for, how the discipline developed and learn by doing via a series of scaffolded practical exercises. Online spatial software will be employed for any device using a browser which takes users through exercises and real world examples. It is appropriate for those with no prior experience with geographic information systems (GIS) software all the way to advanced users.
Skills for the Digital Earth will incorporate video lectures, interaction opportunities and discussion forums. Each module will feature a quiz and activities, and participants will receive a badge after each completed module to be used to demonstrate skills mastered.
I am very excited about this free MOOC offered through the Elmhurst College Online Center (they also offer the Graduate Certificate Program for AP Human Geography teachers). The instructor, Dr. Rich Schultz is the Associate Director of the National Geospatial Technologies Center of Excellence.
The high-tech project would help officials decide which abandoned buildings can be demolished.
This crowd-sourced mapping project is an great example of how a community can work together (using geospatial technologies and geographic thinking) to mitigate some of the more pressing issues confronting the local neighborhoods. Many optimists have argued that Detroit has "good bones" to rebuild the city, but it needs to built on as smaller scale. This project helps to assess what is being used by residents and should stay, and what needs to go. Want to explore some of the data yourself? See Data Driven Detroit.
Educating residents, teachers and youth in a costal community in Costa Rica to use geospatial technologies to investigate, map and make a difference.
In New Hampshire they are doing great work to make mapping data useful in the classroom. This site is one that they use to show how students can map locally relevant data from an online data set. CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network) is a crowd-sourced network that gathers North American precipitation data. The data (especially the total precipitation summary) can be easily copied into as spread sheet and saved as a CSV file (which can be uploaded to ArcGIS online).
The recently revised Geography for Life standards have been aligned to show how geographic skills can be taught within the Common Core framework. The National Geographic Society, in cooperation with the National Council for Geographic Education and the Network of Alliances for Geographic Education created Connections to be that link (for grade specific Common Core/Geography resources click here).
So how is this to be done? This storymap shows ten great examples of maps that can be used as reading documents, one for each of the 10 ELA Reading Standards.
A billion people worldwide live in slums, largely invisible to city services and governments — but not to satellites.
Most slums are systematically ignored by politicians and public utilities; squatter settlements are not built legally and they are treated as though they did not exist. Mapping these communities makes them visible, literally putting them on the map can be an important step to legitimize the needs and requests of these poor residents and grant them greater access to public, municipal resources.
The Urban Observatory city comparison app enables you to explore the living fabric of great cities by browsing a variety of cities and themes.
Yesterday at the ESRI User Conference, the Urban Observatory was unveiled. The physical display contained images from cities around the world to compare and contrast diverse urban environments. The online version of this was announced during in a 10 minute talk by Jack Dangermond and Hugh Keegan. This interactive mapping platform let's users access 'big data' and have it rendered in thematic maps. These maps cover population patterns, transportation networks, and weather systems. This is a must see. Read Forbes' article on the release of Urban Observatory here.
"GIS has given us the chance to re-examine how the Civil War battle was won and lost."
July 1-3 mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and it seems only appropriate to share these rich, interactive resources to commemorate the event (this particular interactive feature uses an ESRI storymap template). This fantastic example from the Smithsonian Magazine shows how history teaching and research can be benefited by using GIS with the example of Gettysburg. Many student today visit the sites of the Battle of Gettysburg and get a greater appreciation of battle by getting a sense of the lay of the land and the challenged confronting both armies. National Geographic has additionally put together resources to display other Civil War battles. GIS is not a tool that is just for geographers; any analysis that requires spatial analysis can be mapped.
The Esri Thematic Atlas is a configurable web application that uses a collection of intelligent web maps with text, graphics, and images to talk about our world.
ESRI is moving towards creating a dynamic, authorative, living digital atlas and empowering users to create their own. See this great political map of 2008 U.S. presidential election that is a part of the altas; it goes far beyond simple blue and red states. StoryMaps are also democratizing the mapping process. Explore these excellent examples of storymaps (Endangered Languages and top 10 physical landforms).
Today was the first of the T3G Institute at the Esri headquarters and the wonderful team has shared great resources that I found incredibly useful for teachers to use great web maps. So what makes a great web map. A great web map should be highly interactive, intuitive, and be able to function at various scales. This video helps to show the power of maps to help tell a great story or to share spatial content.
The presenters each shared an exemplary web map.
This podcast explains the MOOC Maps and the Geospatial Revolution. It is designed to be an easy on-ramp to 21st century geospatial tools and any geography teacher hoping to modernize their skillset would do well to take this summer course from the Program of Online Geospatial Education at Penn State, taught by Dr. Anthony Robinson. Click here to register for free.
"Google Maps Engine makes it easy for you to create beautiful maps, share them with others, and reach your audience no matter where they are. It's built on the same platform that provides Google services to millions of people worldwide, so your users have a consistent and familiar experience wherever they are."
Google has become more and more involved with geospatial technologies and platforms. This new Maps Engine (still in beta testing) appears to be Google entry into the world of GIS. Maps Engine is not nearly as robust as ArcGIS Online or even Google Earth and it has many limitations (can't upload a CSV file with more than 100 data points, can't use KML or shapefiles, no archive of ready-made layers, etc).
It's redeeming value lies in the simplicity of the platform; if all you want to do is draw your own points, lines and polygons on top of a map and be able to get started within 30 seconds, then this is worth exploring. Those features are incredibly intuitive and user-friendly and I foresee various educational possibilities using this in the classroom, but am still 'test-driving' the platform.
"Learn how advances in geospatial technology and analytical methods have changed how we do everything, and discover how to make maps and analyze geographic patterns using the latest tools."
When I was a graduate student at Penn State, I was introduced to some great people and programs and I'm glad to see that the institution has continued to excel and be a leader. You have probably heard of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and been interested in seeing how this might change higher education in the future. This MOOC is a free 5-week course designed to be an introduction to mapping, GIS and geospatial technologies so you don't need to be a specialists with a mapping background: it's for beginners. I know that many geography teachers tell their students about GIS, but are afraid to teach with GIS because they are worried that it will be too hard. This is an easy on-ramp to 21st century geospatial tools and any geography teacher hoping to modernize their skillset would do well to take this summer course fromthe Program of Online Geospatial Education at Penn State, taught by Dr. Anthony Robinson. For more information on this, see this annoucement from Directions Magazine and from Penn State News.
Income maps of every neighborhood in the U.S. See wealth and poverty in places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Miami, and more.
This is the most user-friendly website I've seen to map economic census data. This maps the average household income data on top of a Google Maps basemap that can be centered on any place in the United States. This is a great resource to share with students of just about any age.
30-second animation of the changes in U.S. historical county boundaries, 1629 - 2000. Historical state and territorial boundaries are also displayed from 178...
I love this time-lapse animation of all the county and state-level boundary changes in United States history. Would you like to see this in greater detail? Would you want to download the data and create your own visualization of this? The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries has all of this data as GIS shapefiles, Google Earth KMZ files and PDFs for the whole country as well as for each individual state. This project sponsored by The Newberry and the National Endowment for the Humanities has tremendous potential for use in the classroom for history and geography teachers alike.
"This web mapping application provides users with a simple interface to view, customize, save and print thematic maps of the United States, using data from the 2010 Census. The beta version contains a set of 2010 Census data relating to age and sex, population and race, and family and housing in the United States by county or equivalent entity."
This month the U.S. Census Bureau has released the beta version of a very nice online mapping tool to display the 2010 data. The mapper will create PDF versions of any map produced online (file sizes from 20-55KB) and the user can export the raw data to Excel. While the user is more limited in how to display the data than they would using a GIS, this is a simple way to explore some of the basic census information.
TODALSIGS is an acronym for remembering the most basic elements of a good map. This interactive briefly explains what each of the letters represents and how it is connected to map-making. If this particular introduction is either too advanced or too basic for your students, simply run an internet search for the term TODALSIGS to find many other lesson plans and resources that might be more applicable to your institution (including this example-rich slideshow).