Connections Between GIS Education and The Partnership for 21st Century Skills Exemplars

Blog Post created by jkerski-esristaff Employee on Oct 22, 2015
The Partnership for 21st Century Learning, P21, has teamed with the Pearson Foundation to capture and share exemplary 21st century learning practices that are improving schools, student learning and opportunities in classrooms and communities across the United States.

In addition to identifying, documenting, sharing and celebrating the 21st century practices of exemplar schools, they report on the broader common features– the Patterns of Innovation– that emerge across exemplar schools and appear to be at the heart of their effective transformation into 21st Century Learning Environments.

The 5 essential ingredients that P21 has thus far identified as contributing to exemplar schools' success are:
  • Student Voice
  • Engaged Community
  • Distributed Leadership
  • Climate of Achievement
  • Evidence & Research

Besides being able to search the exemplar schools, one can search by state, educational level, and topic (such as professional development or technology).

I could not help but notice that many characteristics of these exemplar schools are evident in schools where GIS is being used by educators and students, and where GIS is supported by the school and district administration.  For example, take a look at some of these videos of students who use GIS in their educational journey from primary school to university level:  The "student voice" mentioned by P21 is evident in each story told.  Explore why and how students are using GIS in education, and dig into some of the case studies of real students, faculty, and administrators doing real work with GIS.  These represent the "engaged community" identified by P21.

As my colleagues and I have written in this blog and elsewhere for many years, it's not just the technology that has merit--it is the critical thinking, community connections, career pathways, media fluency, holistic thinking, and problem-based learning that is fostered when students engage in geotechnologies.  In short, GIS fosters the P21 tenet of the "climate of achievement."  In the past, my colleagues and I wrote the Geography Skills map for P21, which draws further connections between P21 goals and GIS. Finally, touching on the P21's identification of  "evidence and research", see the GIS education bibliography for studies measuring student achievement, educator professional development, and more.

Using Geographic Information Systems in Education.