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GeoThentic

Geographic education curricula frequently uses geospatial technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS) to assist learners in meeting the National Geography Standards (Doering & Veletsianos, 2007). GIS is a geospatial technology that allows users to store, retrieve, manipulate, and display geographic data about any location in the world. Although it has been noted that GISis the one technology that can assist students in meeting all of the National Geography Standards (Doering and Veletsianos, 2008; Bednarz, 1999), the actual implementation of GIS within classrooms is far behind expected rates (Doering, Lewis, Veletsianos, & Nichols, 2008; Kerski, 1999).

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We have identified numerous reasons that current approaches to teaching GIS in K-12 classrooms have not been effective: (a) the inadequate training of teachers in the use of GIS, (b) a lack of GIS-specific pedagogical teaching models, (c) the failure of preservice teacher education programs to teach GISin ways that are applicable to the K-12 classroom, and (d) professional development without sustainable teacher and student support. Doering, Veletsianos, Scharber, and Miller (2009) argue that the integration of geospatial technol-ogies within curricula have been greatly hindered by the lack of teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) and online scaffolded support within the K-12 classroom. In response to this deficiency, we developed GeoThentic, an online scaffolded learning environment that assists teachers and students to integrate geospatial technologies in the K-12 classroom for teaching and learning geography. The environment was built on the foundation of TPACK and real-time feedback (Doering, Scharber, Miller, & Veletsianos, 2009).

Design overview

GeoThentic was designed using the cognitive apprenticeship model (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989) by situating learning within an authentic setting. GeoThentic creates opportunities for students to learn and teachers to teach geography with geospatial technologies by solving authentic complex problems within an online environment (Doering, Scharber, Miller, & Veletsianos 2009). Additionally, the software provides teachers with the necessary TPACK to teach five modules available within the environment (see Figure 3) and four levels of learner-controlled scaffolds that engage them and their students in solving these authentic problems. Students are placed in the role of a geographer, working toward solving a geographic problem while using the choice of scaffolding that they deem appropriate.

The five modules currently in the GeoThentic environment include:

  1. Build a Hospital – Determine the best place in San Francisco to build a new hospital
  2. Global Climate Change – Identify the top areas around the world most affected by climate change
  3. Avian Flu – Identify the top locations around the world where humans are most affected by Avian Flu
  4. Build a Stadium – Identify the best city in the USA to create a new football team and build a new stadium
  5. Population Density – Identify states in the USA that will be most impacted by population growth and decline by the year 2100

 

The scaffolds (i.e. situated movies, screen-capture videos, conversational agents, and collaboration zones) have been designed to successfully model, demonstrate, and provide feedback on the use of geospatial technologies while maintaining an appropriate level of difficulty and reducing unnecessary frustration. In lieu of requiring learners to utilize specific instructional materials, GeoThentic affords the freedom to employ any of the scaffolds at any time as learners feel they are necessary to understand and solve the problem. GeoThentic differs from traditional scaffolding by providing inherent and gradual withdrawal of support. In other words, all scaffolds are available at all times and the selection of individual scaffolds is the teachers’ and students’ decisions.

Research

Miller, C., Hokanson, B., Doering, A., & Brandt, T. (2010). Role-based design: Designing for Experience (article 4 of 4). Educational Technology, 50(6), p. 1-10.

Miller, C., Doering, A., & Scharber, C. (2010). No such thing as failure, only feedback: Designing innovative opportunities for e-assessment and technology-mediated feedback. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 21(1), 65-92.

Doering, A., Veletsianos, G., Scharber, C., & Miller, C. (2009). Using the Technological, Pedagogical, And Content Knowledge Framework to Design Online Learning Environments and Professional Development. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 41(3), 319-346.

Doering, A., Scharber, C., Miller, C., & Veletsianos, G. (2009). GeoThentic: Designing and assessing with technological pedagogical content knowledge. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 9(3), Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol9/iss3/socialstudies/article1.cfm.

Doering, A., Lewis, C., Veletsianos, G., & Nichols, K. (2008). Preservice teachers’ perceptions of instant messaging in two educational contexts. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 25(1), 45-52.

Doering, A., & Veletsianos, G. (2007). An investigation of the use of real-time, authentic geospatial data in the K-12 classroom. Journal of Geography, Special Issue on Using Geospatial Data in Geographic Education, 106(6), 217-225.

Bednarz, S. W. (1999). Reaching new standards: GIS and K-12 geography. Retrieved April 10, 2001, from: http://www.odyseey.maine.edu/gisweb/spatdb/gislis95/gi95006.html.

Kerski, J. 1999. A nationwide analysis of the implementation of GIS in high school education. In Proceedings of the 21st Annual ESRI User Conference. San Diego, CA. http://gis.esri.com/library/userconf/proc99/proceed/papers/pap202/p202.htm.

Awards

Doering, A., Miller, C., Scharber, C., & Hooper, S. (2008) – Winner – AECT Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Instructional Design, Funded Projects >$100,000 Design and Development Showcase.

Acknowledgements

This research and design was supported in part by grants from the National Geographic Society.

 

Additional References

Bednarz, S. W. (1999). Reaching new standards: GIS and K-12 geography. Retrieved April 10, 2001, from: http://www.odyseey.maine.edu/gisweb/spatdb/gislis95/gi95006.html.

Kerski, J. (1999). A nationwide analysis of the implementation of GIS in high school education. In Proceedings of the 21st Annual ESRI User Conference. San Diego, CA. http://gis.esri.com/library/userconf/proc99/proceed/papers/pap202/p202.htm.

 

 

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