A model professional development workshop for educators

02-19-2020 06:42 AM
Esri Frequent Contributor
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Many valid approaches exist for effective professional development (PD) for educators in GIS, and here I offer one of mine.  I invite you to comment on this syllabus or a provide a link to one of yours in the spirit of sharing.  The PD I conduct varies depending on the level of instructor (primary, secondary, community or technical college, university, library, museum, other), the discipline(s) represented by the attendee (library and information science, environmental science, sociology, history, data science, business, geography, earth science, biology, GIS, computer science, language arts, or another discipline), the goals of the attendees, the setting of the workshop (including the mixture of outside vs. inside work), and the time available.  No matter the audience, however, my workshops are always over 90% hands-on work with GIS tools and geospatial data and focus on spatial and critical thinking.   

The attached workshop is one in which I use a variety of powerful but easy to use Esri geotechnology tools, including Survey123, web mapping applications including dashboards, storymaps, and other apps, and ArcGIS Online.   I vary the scale and problems that we address to keep the interest level high, and always include teaching about a current event.  I include a few pertinent videos and one crowdsourced survey to set the stage, and include connections to educational content standards.  I keep the goals in mind and in discussion throughout the workshop; in this case, (1) Develop knowledge and skills in geotechnologies focusing on social studies and science, (2) Develop workforce awareness of pathways in careers that use GIS and how to prepare students for them, and (3)  Develop confidence that participants can use these tools, methods, and data sets in their own teaching. 

The workshop closes with reflection, assessment, and "where do I go from here" additional resources.  I include additional activities that the participants can work on after the workshop ends.  I love conducting these workshops for a variety of reasons--It brings me joy to give educators confidence that they can teach with GIS and about GIS, impacting their own students' lives in positive ways, and providing career pathways for them.  Despite the changes that GIS has experienced over the decades, it has remained a tool for solving problems and investigation, and thus is incredibly relevant to education.  But there is another reason I do this -- I believe that using GIS is a key way to build a sustainable and healthier future. 

About the Author
I believe that spatial thinking can transform education and society through the application of Geographic Information Systems for instruction, research, administration, and policy. I hold 3 degrees in Geography, have served at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and USGS as a cartographer and geographer, and teach a variety of F2F (Face to Face) (including T3G) and online courses. I have authored a variety of books and textbooks about the environment, STEM, GIS, and education. These include "Interpreting Our World", "Essentials of the Environment", "Tribal GIS", "The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data", "International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS In Secondary Education", "Spatial Mathematics" and others. I write for 2 blogs, 2 monthly podcasts, and a variety of journals, and have created over 5,000 videos on the Our Earth YouTube channel. Yet, as time passes, the more I realize my own limitations and that this is a lifelong learning endeavor and thus I actively seek mentors and collaborators.