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GIS in Initial Teacher Education . David Mitchell, Institute of Education, London. What do we mean by GIS? Should we be embracing GIS? GIS and the PGCE course GIS and the GA. What does GIS mean?.

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GIS in Initial Teacher Education

David Mitchell, Institute of Education, London


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“…a digital map, data located on the map, and a software application (GIS) that links the two together” Diane Freeman (2004)


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What counts as a GIS? application (GIS) that links the two together”


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GIS ‘viewers’? application (GIS) that links the two together”


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Google earth application (GIS) that links the two together”


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Subscription GIS viewers? application (GIS) that links the two together”


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infomapper application (GIS) that links the two together”


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Digital worlds application (GIS) that links the two together”


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‘Proper’ GIS? application (GIS) that links the two together”


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AEGIS3 application (GIS) that links the two together”


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Should we be embracing GIS in Geography education? application (GIS) that links the two together”


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We do not wish to fall prey to application (GIS) that links the two together”technocentrism, the justification for the use of technology because of the so called Mount Everest rationale—we use it “because it is there”

Bednarz and Ludwig, (1997)


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1. The Educative Justification application (GIS) that links the two together”

Sarah Witham Bednarz (2001)

  • Many argue that GIS helps students to learn geography by practicing spatial thinking


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Spatial Thinking Skills application (GIS) that links the two together”

Adapted from Bednarz (2001)


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“Cognitive maps are the store of knowledge an individual has about environments organised as internal models of the world. Cognitive maps are the basis of both spatial and non-spatial decision-making.”

“It has been suggested that cognitive maps are an internalised geographic information system.”

Bednarz (2001)


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GIS in school has about environments organised as internal models of the world.

improved cognitive mapping

improved spatial thinking

Improved decision-making

improved geography learning

…but more research needed to explore the claim that GIS improves cognitive mapping & spatial thinking skills


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Is GIS the preserve of Geography? has about environments organised as internal models of the world.


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2. The Workplace Justification: GIS as an Essential Skill has about environments organised as internal models of the world.

  • “knowledge workers” able to collect data, calculate and analyse data, and communicate knowledge

….but should this drive GIS in schools?


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  • “…we need to make a strong geographic and pedagogic case for or against GIS/GISci”

  • “We do not need to join a technology-driven-workplace-oriented crusade on behalf of GIS/GISci unless we are convinced that it is in the best interests of students and their personal, social, and spatial development.”

Sarah Witham Bednarz (2001)



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Barriers to GIS for or against GIS/GISci”in schools


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Barriers to GIS for or against GIS/GISci”in schools

Clear pedagogic & geographic rationale

Access to hardware/ software/ data

Training resources

Curriculum space & priorities


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Case of the IOE, London for or against GIS/GISci”a) ICT assignment

  • Find opportunity for geographical enquiry in the curriculum using GIS (should have important human implications e.g. hazard, urban planning issue)

  • Plan a sequence of 2-3 lessons using GIS

  • Evaluate how the ICT (through GIS) affected the geographical learning and the learning of generic skills (including ICT skills)


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b) GIS support & resources for students for or against GIS/GISci”

  • Teaching sessions, aegis, arcview, infomapper & free web GIS viewers, used to support enquiry learning

  • Free trial periods with AEGIS & infomapper, to partner schools

  • ICT observation days in partner schools (currently these are not exclusively GIS focused)


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How has it gone? for or against GIS/GISci”


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Google earth for or against GIS/GISci”


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AEGIS3 for or against GIS/GISci”


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arcview for or against GIS/GISci”


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GA projects: GIS for or against GIS/GISci”


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“Train the Trainers” Ordnance Survey for or against GIS/GISci”

  • Nov 17, 2005…an annual event?

  • GA website

  • Support from GIS providers

  • Discussion forum


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GA website for or against GIS/GISci”


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‘Spatially speaking’ for or against GIS/GISci”GA/ESRI UK (arcview)


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HEIF3 project bid for or against GIS/GISci”


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In conclusion… for or against GIS/GISci”

Should GIS be seized by beginning teachers to re-state the power of Geography in school?


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