Workshop: Best Practices for Integrating Geotechnology into Education: SPNHC Conference

06-23-2017 09:11 AM
Esri Notable Contributor
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This week I had the honor of conducting a presentation at the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC, pronounced "spinach").   My presentation, which includes links and live embedded web maps and apps, is here.  I chose to focus on 4 things that you can do in teaching and research with modern geotechnologies:  (1)  Use web maps and applications to teach skills and content.  (2)   Create and use multimedia story maps to teach, communicate research results, and assess student work.  (3) Collect and map your own data.  (4)  Analyze data.  Because the presentation is in Sway with maps and links, you could even use it 'as is' to teach specific units or sections of your own courses on ecoregions, tornadoes, plate tectonics,  field data collection, and story maps. 

While the conference and the society is focused on the intersection between museum collections (animals, plants, fossils, rocks, and others), instruction, and research, with a particular emphasis on the digitization of those collections, it is my hope that this presentation will be useful for those inside as well as outside that community.  In so doing, I provide real world examples of how to use maps and apps, to examine demographic patterns in selected cities (via the Urban Observatory), world population density and ecoregions using ArcGIS Online, natural and human-caused change via the Change Matters Landsat viewer, local changes using the historical USGS topographic map viewer, demographics and behaviors from state to neighborhood level, and historical and current tornadoes and earthquakes in ArcGIS Online.   I explained how to create and use Story Maps, and showed examples of a crowdsourced one I set up as well as others on languages, oceans, extinctions, manuscript maps, and BioBlitz.  I showed how to collect and map your own data using crowdsource story maps, the Snap2Map app, a spreadsheeet, Collector for ArcGIS, and Survey123.  I demonstrated how to analyze data in ArcGIS Online, including human health and flood hazards.  

I pointed out that all of these activities had several things in common:  1)  They all engage in the scientific and geographic inquiry process.  2)  They show a diversity of themes, scales, data, and ways of teaching with web maps and GIS. 3)  They all use ArcGIS Online as the fundamental platform for engagement and investigation.  

I discussed key resources on how to go further with geotechnologies, including lesson libraries, and how to obtain an organizational subscription to ArcGIS Online.  I closed with these final thoughts:   1.  The technologies and tools will evolve--so embrace the attitude of being a lifelong learner.  2.  It is excellent that you learn these tools and techniques as the instructor, but don't forget to -- give the tools to the students.  3.  Don't focus too much on the lesson, but rather on the inquiry.  4.  Keep moving forward in your use of geotechnologies.  

I look forward to your feedback. 

Mapping a spreadsheet of field collected data on soils in North Dakota in ArcGIS Online.

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.