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“GIS technology will develop into a nervous system for our planet where we, on an ongoing basis, measure and encapsulate knowledge, share it, and respond to issues that people care about…. It will be a framework for communication, decision support, understanding geographic science, and educating our children.”
Jack Dangermond, 2017
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are described by ESRI: perhaps the largest global provider of GIS (in the form of cloud-based applications) as:
“a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. With this unique capability, GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations—helping users make smarter decisions.”
GIS is a powerful tool which can be used to investigate and explore the world. ESRI has made their ArcGIS Online family of apps, such as Survey123, Field Maps and StoryMaps available free of charge to all schools in EU countries (and further afield) so you can access them easily. GIS should also not be just ‘something else to teachʼ. We hope you understand the potential of GIS to enable clearer teaching of subject content, so that your students’ understanding is better, and your own teaching becomes more effective. A school’s use of GIS needs to be embedded across the curriculum, and across subject teaching, and it needs to be introduced to students in a staged process to avoid cognitive overload.
We use a slightly broader definition of GIS, or the GI in our project title. This can include other data visualisation tools, including Gapminder’s ‘bubbles’, Google’s Public Data Explorer, Earth NullSchool, statistical atlases and mapping tools such as Kiln. We also use ESRI’s StoryMaps.