#EsriEdUC Professional Development - The Big Ideas

The session was titled: Geospatial Professional Development for Teachers.

Crossing Boundaries is an professional development offering for teachers funded by NSF and hosted in New York State. 

The Crossing Boundaries Project is a collaborative effort between Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Crossing Boundaries provides middle and high school students with knowledge, skills, motivation, and inspiration to use information and communication technologies in addressing biodiversity conservation issues in local and international contexts.

Of most interest to me were takeaways Mike Batek shared after several years of GIS workshops aimed at educators:

  • Start slow (PDF, Google Earth, then Google Earth)
  • Focus on data manipulation/analysis (not projections, symbology, creating a project)
  • No “cookbooks” (cards with tool data, where to find) biggest obstacle - unzipping Mapping our World)
  • Use teacher/leaders are support/role models
  • Long Term Project - be patient

Mary Fargher Univ London explored how GIS can be used to teach geography following the UK's vision. She noted per @geoparadigm: "Traditional GIS used on it's own has a limited capacity to represent place" and hence that more open ("neogeography") tools and hybrid (multi-source) technologies may help with a broader geospatial perspective. 

John Johnson of the GeoTech Center detailed how it gathered definitions of GIS and remote sensing careers and how they matched up with those of the Dept. of Labor. I noted the #2 most critical skill, after data analysis, for remote sensing analysts was "preparing and making presentations." That lead one attendee to note her school offered a course called "non-technical skills for the GIS technician." I understand the logic for such an offering but wonder if it would be possible to teach those skills across the curriculum?

That leads me to two other, related points about consider these key communications skills. First off, the 4-H presentations I saw (two of them) were give 3/4 by leaders and 1/4 by a 4-Her. I'd love to see the 4-Hers present more! Second, I learned how my friend Peg Heaney most recently of White Mountains College got her students to participate in the GeoTech Center Competition (where one of her students is a finalist): She required them to participate. Brilliant! (Please note this Tech Center!!!) All of them had to take the online test and then prepare an online video of their (already in the syllabus) project. And, one lucky and talented one is out here with us. Participating in the contest is a great way for all of them to practice their communications skills! I wonder if other educators might take this approach next year? BTW, the "finals" are at 3:15 PM Sunday at the Marriott.

Published Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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