TeachingGeographyGIS - Teaching File The application of UK...

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19 © TEACHING GEOGRAPHY . SPRING 2009 The aim of this article is to raise teacher awareness of the developments in web-based GIS in the UK. In partic- ular, this article will focus on web-based GIS resources that provide students with greater opportunities to analyse and examine critically the nature of spatial data. UK data sets will be examined at the national, regional and local scales. Web-based GIS in the UK There have been many advances in the availability of web-based GIS in the UK since the year 2000. The stimulus for these developments related to the gov- ernment’s publication in 1999 of a White Paper called ‘Modernising Government’. The paper stated that all government services should be elec- tronically available by 2008. The delivery of GIS over the internet was seen as an important component of meeting this target (Beaumont et al. , 2005). The benefit of this initiative to schools is that there is now a wealth of government data available via web- based GIS at a range of scales for geographical investigation. 1. Local Authority web-based GIS As a response to the 1999 White Paper, many local authorities are now provid- ing access to local area data over the internet. Much of this data is relevant to the teaching and learning of geography and provides significant opportunities for individual pupil Introduction There have been significant and rapid advances in the availability of web- based GIS in schools over the last few years. The development of GIS-based resources and virtual globes like Google Earth (http://earth.google.com), Windows Local Live (http://local.live.com) and NASA’s World Wind (http://world- wind.arc.nasa.gov) have provided schools with detailed mapping and near-global coverage of satellite imagery and aerial photography for free. While these resources provide excellent visual representations of the places we study in schools, they are limited in their scope as there is not much opportunity to process spatial data, thus not maximising the time in lessons given to the skills of GIS use. While packages like Google Earth offer a range of opportunities in the classroom for complex geographical enquiry, they do little to help students’ understanding of the technological aspects of GIS. By not allowing any time in the classroom to develop stu- dents’ understanding of the skills of GIS, we are restricting the potential of our students to think spatially. In this way, GIS resources like Google Earth do not give students the opportunity to think about the quality and nature of the spatial data that underpins their thinking about the places they are investigating. The opportunities for critical spatial thinking are limited with packages like Google Earth because a Teaching File The application of UK web-based GIS in geography teaching Peter O’Connor raises teacher awareness of the developments in web-based GIS in the UK, in particular focusing on web- based GIS resources that provide students with greater opportunities to analyse and examine critically the nature of spatial data.
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TeachingGeographyGIS - Teaching File The application of UK...

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