My new article in Geospatial World magazine is entitled Why GIS in Education Matters. My goal was to reach a global audience of readers through this magazine with a message that they would be able to take to their own communities, schools, colleges, and universities to encourage the deepening and widening of spatial thinking through GIS in those educational institutions, and beyond those institutions, to libraries, museums, and after-school clubs and university clubs. I begin the article with a reminder and a brief history of why mapping has long been valued. I then discuss the chief reasons why GIS merits inclusion as a framework and a toolset, not just in GIS programs, but in sociology, mathematics, geography, engineering, health, business, environmental, planning, and other programs and subjects. I focus on how using GIS as an instructional tool opens the door to inquiry, content, skills, and perspectives.
After reviewing the progress of how GIS is used in education around the world, the article returns to the essentials: GIS is a powerful tool for analyzing the whys of where, and for understanding our changing Earth: Students use GIS to understand that the Earth is changing, think scientifically and analytically about why it is changing, and dig deeper: Should the Earth be changing in these ways? Is there anything that I should be doing or could be doing about it? This captures the heart of spatial thinking, inquiry and problem-based learning. It empowers students as they become decision-makers to make a difference in this changing world of ours.
It is my hope that the article will be useful to many throughout the educational system, to geomentors, to GIS professionals, and beyond.
All photos by Joseph Kerski.