The Commonwealth of Kentucky's recently signed Esri Educational Site License makes ArcGIS technology available to all K–12 public and private school students in the state. The license will be managed by the Kentucky Geographic Alliance (KGA), a longtime supporter of geography initiatives for elementary and secondary schools.
KGA will assist local schools with the integration of geographic information system (GIS) technology into math, earth science, and social studies classes based on statewide curriculum standards and will work with Kentucky Department of Education curriculum coordinators for guidance.
"The Kentucky Geographic Alliance is interested in providing the K–12 Kentucky STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] communities with an opportunity to participate in a top-three technology of the future," said Scott Dobler, faculty member of the Department of Geography and Geology at Western Kentucky University and codirector of KGA. "Along with nanotechnology and biotechnology, geotechnology was named as one of the three most important emerging fields by the US Department of Labor. Geography skills are necessary in today's globalizing market. Our students must learn how to interpret spatial information and understand complex linkages to be successful in today's global economy."
Dobler indicated that students will work on projects that reflect local community issues. ArcGIS Online will be used as a tool to communicate the results of these projects to neighboring schools and districts and, potentially, local legislators and other interested parties.
KGA plans to introduce GIS through workshops for teachers and technology coordinators. The teachers, including those in career and technical education (CTE), will focus on classroom implementation, while the coordinators will emphasize support center chain of command network decisions.
"Kids can build readiness for college and careers in many different subjects and activities with GIS, even at a young age," said Charlie Fitzpatrick, K–12 school program manager at Esri. "Kentucky's long history of GIS use means folks know that it is a problem-solving technology, and they want their kids to develop long-term integrated content knowledge and procedural skills in a real-world context."
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