New research suggests that map reading is a dying skill in the age of the smartphone. Perish the thought, says Rob Cowen
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
New research suggests that map reading is a dying skill in the age of the smartphone. Perish the thought, says Rob Cowen
Despite the gendered overtones of the article (that it's important for men to learn to read a map), this is some good advice, regardless of gender. The vocabulary and concepts of maps can strengthen spatial cognition and geography awareness. While GPS technology can help us in a pinch, relying primarily on a system that does not engage our navigation skills will weaken our ability to perform these functions. While it intuitively makes sense, that the 'mental muscles' would atrophy when not used, it is a reminder that an overuse of geospatial technologies can be intellectually counterproductive. So break out a trusty ol' map, but more importantly, be a part of the spatial decision-making process.
This video covers various topics important to mapping and satellite imagery (and a lesson from an APHG teacher on how to use this video with other resources). There is so much more to the world and space than what we can see see. Chromoscope, referenced in the video, simulates other forms of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum besides just visible light. This type of information is at the core of the science behind all of our satellite imagery. This video also covers many map projection issues and highlights online resources to understand map distortion including:
"The Pew survey sorts people into major groupings--Christians; other religions, including Jewish and Muslim; and 'unaffiliated,' which includes atheist, agnostic and 'nothing in particular.' Roll your cursor over the map to see how faiths and traditions break down by state."
This is a particularly useful interactive map with a lot of teaching applications. It is a nice visual aid to process the religious data in the United States.
Questions to Ponder: What patterns do you notice? Are there religious regions that could be drawn based on this data? What geographic factors have created the differences in the religious geographies of the United States?
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks|
"This cool new historic mapping app from the folks at esri and the U.S. Geological Survey is worth exploring. What it does is take 100 years of USGS maps and lets you overlay them for just about any location in the nation. That allows users to see how a city – say Harrisburg – developed between 1895 and today. The library behind the project includes more than 178,000 maps dating from 1884 to 2006."
For more ESRI maps that let you explore urban environmental change, the 'spyglass' feature gives these gorgeous vintage maps a modern facelift (but not available for as many places). The cities that are in this set of interactive maps are:
Elizabeth Borneman explores how cartography and cartographic projections help and hinder our perception of the world.
"How do you think the world (starting with our perceptions) could change if the map looked differently? What if Australia was on top and the hemispheres switched? By changing how we look at a map we truly can begin to explore and change our assumptions about the world we live in."
Geography doesn’t just teach us about the Earth; it provides ways for thinking about the Earth that shapes how we see the world. Maps do the same; they represent a version of reality and that influences how we think about places.
"This animation distils hundreds of years of culture into just five minutes. A team of historians and scientists wanted to map cultural mobility, so they tracked the births and deaths of notable individuals like David, King of Israel, and Leonardo da Vinci, from 600 BC to the present day. Using them as a proxy for skills and ideas, their map reveals intellectual hotspots and tracks how empires rise and crumble. The information comes from Freebase, a Google-owned database of well-known people and places, and other catalogues of notable individuals. The team is based at the University of Texas at Dallas."
This video has garnered a lot of academic and mainstream attention--while I wouldn't describe in as the Entire History of Human Culture in 5 minutes as the Huffington Post did, it is a stellar visualization that uses big data and was created with some solid academic research. Hierarchical diffusion patterns are powerfully depicted in this video created by Nature as are other geographic concepts such as urban settlement patterns (e.g.-primate cities and rank-size rule in Europe).
These maps are crucial for understanding the region's history, its present, and some of the most important stories there today.
Titles like the one for this article, 40 maps that explain the Middle East, are becoming increasingly common for internet articles. They helps us feel that we can explain all of the world's complexities and make sense of highly dynamic situations. While we can all agree that maps are great analytical tools that can be very persuasive, sometimes we can pretend that they are the end all, be all for any situation. Maps can also be used to show how something that we thought was simple can be much complex and nuanced than we had previously imagined, as demonstrated by this article, 15 Maps that Don't Explain the Middle East at All. Both perspectives have their place (and both articles are quite insightful). Not connected to the Middle East, but East Asia, this article entitled Lies, Damned Lies and Maps continues the discussion of maps, truth and perception.
Have you even wanted to explore an interactive map of the United States and be able to click on any neighborhood to see the local population age structure and compare that to the national, state or county data? If not, you don't know what you've been missing. This is a fantastic resource that lets you and your students explore the data AND ask spatial questions. It's definitely one that I'll add to my list of favorite resources.
The Department of Commerce just lifted a ban on satellite images that showed features smaller than 20 inches. The nation's largest satellite imaging firm, Digital Globe, asked the government to lift the restrictions and can now sell images showing details as small as a foot. A few inches may seem slight, but this is actually a big deal.
As reported by the BBC, this change in the legal use of geospatial information could have a huge impact on many industries. Some are fearful that it could represent an invasion of privacy, and others see this as a way to harness new satellite technology to provide higher resolution data and improved data quality for researchers.
"More Americans came into contact with maps during World War II than in any previous moment in American history. From the elaborate and innovative inserts in the National Geographic to the schematic and tactical pictures in newspapers, maps were everywhere. On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland, and by the end of the day a map of Europe could not be bought anywhere in the United States. In fact, Rand McNally reported selling more maps and atlases of the European theaters in the first two weeks of September than in all the years since the armistice of 1918. Two years later, the attack on Pearl Harbor again sparked a demand for maps."
Watch the commuting patterns of New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
This CityLab article and the embedded maps show the rhythms and patterns that make city life so beautifully complex. The Center for Advances Spatial Analysis has compiled numerous maps, time-lapse videos and other animations to show flows of urban life. These are great resources to visualize the 'spaces of flows.'
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
What parts of the world should rethink their maps? Why and how?
Maps are always changing as a new nation gets added and old lines cease to make sense. Territory is claimed and reclaimed. This series of seven articles in the New York Times explores regional examples of how borders impacts places from a variety of scholarly perspectives. Together, these article challenge student to reconsider the world map and to conceptualize conflicts within a spatial context.
China has published a new map of the entire country including the islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) in order to "better show" its territorial claim over the region.
China is attempting to bolster its geopolitical claims through cartographic validation. It as if to say, 'it's on a map, who can question that it is legitimately our territory?' Why is a map such a powerful and convincing document? Why is the Philippines upset by this map? I think that explains this rival Filipino map as the Philippines and China engage in the cartographic version of dueling banjos. (note the uage of the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea to refer to the same body of water) . But this is more than just a map; it's production has the potential to destabilize regional security.
For more resources, the Choices Program has put together supplemental materials to investigate China on the world stage.
Smarty Pins is a Google Maps based geography and trivia game.
As stated in a review of Smarty Pins on Mashable, "Google unveiled a fun new game this week that tests players' geography and trivia skills. Called 'Smarty Pins' the game starts players off with 1,000 miles (or 1,609 kilometers if they're not based in the United States), and asks them to drop a pin on the city that corresponds with the correct answer to a given question."
This game is wonderfully addictive...I haven't enjoyed a mapping trivia platform this much since I discovered GeoGuessr. I answered 38 questions before I ran out of miles...how far did you get?
The vocabulary and concepts of maps kids should learn to enhance their map-skills & geography awareness. Concise definitions with clear illustrations.
"Unfortunately, most world political maps aren't telling you the whole story. The idea that the earth's land is cleanly divvied up into nation-states - one country for each of the world's peoples - is more an imaginative ideal than a reality. Read on to learn about five ways your map is lying to you about borders, territories, and even the roster of the world's countries."
This is a nice article to get students to look past the officialness of a world map to explore some of the complexities that make contemporary political geography so compelling. In a nutshell, this article discusses 5 major themes:
This interactive map, produced by University of Georgia historian Claudio Saunt to accompany his new book West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, offers a time-lapse vision of the transfer of Indian land between 1776 and 1887. As blue “Indian homelands” disappear, small red areas appear, indicating the establishment of reservations (above is a static image of the map; visit the map's page to play with its features).
In the past I've shared maps that show the historic expansion of the United States--a temporal and spatial visualization of Manifest Destiny. The difference with this interactive is that the narrative focuses on the declining territory controlled by Native Americans instead of the growth of the United States. That may seem a minor detail, but how history is told shapes our perception of events, identities and places.
You and your students can browse through this interactive map for an update on conflict situations around the world. The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict; they've created this interactive map to help us stay informed about the most important conflict issues around the world. I'm placing this on my list of favorite resources as this is one worth returning to on a regular basis.
Cities like Washington and San Francisco are gaining the highly skilled but losing their less-educated workforce.
This article, with its charts and interactive maps, is worth exploring to show some of the important spatial patterns of internal migration. It's not hard to realize that larger, cosmopolitan metro areas will have an advantage in attracting and keeping prospective college graduates; the question that we should be asking our students is how will this impact neighborhoods, cities and regions?
Today's volume of immigrants, in some ways, is a return to America’s past.
The source of migrants today has changed the cultural composition of the United States from what is was 100 years ago. Cultures are not static and migration is one of the key drivers of change. These maps produced by the Pew Research Center. Despite what media reports would have you believe, immigration into the United States is not on the rise, but maps such as these can be construed to imagine that there is a flow of immigrant coming from south of the border. The reality is that migration from Mexico to the United States has steadily dropped since 1999.
Beaches are dynamic, living landscapes. The coast off of Chatham, Massachusetts, provides a prime example of beach evolution.
To quote coastal geologist Robert Oldale, "Many people view coastal erosion as a problem that needs to be addressed and, if possible, prevented. However, storm and wave erosion along the shore of Cape Cod has been going on for thousands of years and will likely continue for thousands of years more. It is a natural process that allows the Cape to adjust to rising sea level. Erosion is only a peril to property. If we build on the shore, we must accept the fact that sooner or later coastal erosion will take the property away.”
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.