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Techs Use GIS

Techs Use GIS

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Published by: runneals on Nov 10, 2009
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Techniques for Using GISin the Classroom
One of the challenges that teachers face in adapting geographic information system (GIS)technology to their classroom is in identifying techniques that will work in their classrooms. Notwo classrooms, teachers, or groups of students are alike. What works in one setting may not work in another. However, underlying strategies may be adapted to alternative situations.
Some teachers with limited access to hardware within the classroom have used GIS on their own,outside of class, to produce a number of paper maps. By varying the content, even by as little asre-classifying or re-coloring one layer in the map, teachers can produce a number of high qualityoutputs in short order. In this scenario of teachers preparing hardcopy work, there are several tipsto consider.Spend time to create and store a consistent LAYOUT template. Having consistent map elements ina pre-constructed fashion will reduce the time needed for multiple outputs. Also, this will reinforcethe concept of elements that should be included on any map.Make sure to use colors and patterns that appear as distinguishable in print as they do on screen.Some printers may not provide the desired clarity for some shades or patterns. Also, make surethat points and lines show up at the desired scale when printed. For example, a 1-pt line on screenis often much more visible than a 1-pt line on paper.Consider using black and white pattern or greyscale printouts. Higher quality output is moreaffordable in black and white. These maps can usually be photocopied successfully, and can oftencontain fully as much data as a colored map with two or even three layers. And when preparing forblack and white or greyscale printouts, construct the map in those colors, rather than relying on thecomputer to translate the shades from a color map, which often yields unexpected results.Consider creating a mosaic print, constructing a large map from a series of standard letter- orlegal-sized printouts. This is actually quite easy to do, with some careful attention to landmarks.If possible, use student-generated data in the maps. This will make the activities all the morepowerful for those who created the data.Techniques for Using GIS in the Classroom, page 1
Copyright © 1997, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.
As always, design activities which engage students in critical thinking using a series of maps,tables, and charts. Even if they are not involved in producing the maps, graphics, or data, studentsshould still be able to identify noteworthy patterns.And, as with any materials enduring significant handling, display maps under protective covers --lamination or even just transparent open-edge sheet covers. Protecting such creations will increasetheir long-term value and make it easier for students to do more thorough examination.Finally, having spent time creating GIS projects which meet special needs, be sure to save theseprojects. Storage space for a project is small.
While some teachers have focused on using hardcopy output to put GIS into students' hands,others have constructed electonic versions of outputs. The images become, effectively, "clip art"for use in all manner of projects.The procedure is very straightforward. Create a map display with the desired data, then eitherexport the map to a file or use third party screen capture software to grab the desired image. Screencapture software is especially useful for creating images which carry legend information, focusingon just one portion of the screen, or ensuring a WYSIWYG output.In creating such clip art, it is important to bear in mind the potential uses. Clean and simpledisplays are adaptable to multiple uses. Make sure that there is some indication about the nature of the data, so that users and viewers can know something about the value and quality of the datawithout having to do elaborate investigation.Clip art can be used powerfully by distributing the images to multiple computers. The receivingstations need not be particularly powerful -- just capable of viewing images of the defined format.With the rise of the World Wide Web, GIF images are now particularly common. With powerfulimages requiring perhaps only 25-50 kb each, a single floppy may hold a few dozen images, andstill have enough space so that "section heading" images can be included as well. These imagescan be stored using sequential naming schemes, for use in "slideshow" or screensaver software, orto construct animated GIF images, to create a sort of movie.Production of multimedia portfolios containing GIS-based images can be powerfully enhancedthrough the use of clip art. Packages such as HyperStudio (by Roger Wagner), Powerpoint (byMicrosoft), and a host of others can be used by both teachers and students to create integratedlearning activities that can run on modestly-powered stations, and which can often cross from oneplatform to another without problem.Again, having spent time creating GIS projects which meet special needs, be sure to save theseprojects. Storage space for a project is cheap.Techniques for Using GIS in the Classroom, page 2
Copyright © 1997, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.
In a number of schools, teachers and librarians have found success by creating a single hands-onstation with some pre-constructed views. Students can sit at the station and choose from a menu of options, with engaging a display being as simple as double clicking one of many carefully namedicons representing a set of different creations.These "Greatest Hits" stations can be customized quckly, with different icons or widows fordifferent classes or topics. In such public settings, which may involve limited interaction betweenuser and guide, it may be critical to ensure that data sources and the constructions themselves arestored in read-only fashion, and backed up on external media, to prevent and recover fromaccidental (or other) modification.Using such a strategy, individual students or groups might be charged with creation of a "project of the week." Projects could involve current events or just current study topics.Techniques for Using GIS in the Classroom, page 3
Copyright © 1997, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.

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