Friday, June 7, 2013

Cloud Mapping Event: 3 Teaching Ideas

On 24th of May I was one of the organisers of a ‘Cloud Mapping’ event with Google and the HEA. Firstly, big thanks to Google for hosting the event, the venue and food were great (mmm, sushi lunch!). There was a good show of people and overall I think it went well with a lot of enthusiasm for a follow up meeting in a years time. I’ll report on the day as a whole when Helen Walkington (HEA) and I have had chance to discuss the official feedback. 

I presented 3 teaching ideas using Google Earth and I collected feedback via ‘post-it note’ voting so I thought in this post I’d outline the ideas below and collate the feedback.

Collating Spatial Data (AKA Crowd Sourced Maps) 

the grid around Mt St Helens 

 (more detail on the idea here): I reported on how I’d set up a grid in Google Earth around Mt St Helens, a volcano that erupted in 1980 and knocked down lots of trees in the vicinty. I gave students a grid square each to map and collated their edits. When I’d collated the results I presented the completed map back to students explaining what you could now see that wasn’t apparent earlier.

Delegate Votes: 23 (the winner!)
Delegate comments: I asked for ideas about how to reuse the technique, I also got back more general comments about the skills used. In terms of applications of the technique:

  • Fieldwork Prep: 3 comments about how this would be great to use as preparation for a fieldwork trip 
  • Temporal data: 2 comments that it could be used to map temporal data such as floods 
  • Qualitative data: 2 comments that it could be used to map qualitative data (e.g. mapping rock outcrops in the desert visually followed by the official geological map) 
In terms of skills development some interesting comments:

  • Mapping Criteria: Give students criteria on how to map and then review if they have achieved this as a group 
  • Acquisition is the KEY skill of GIS. 

Explaining Scale via Powers of 10 Squares

The powers of 10 squares in action, 1km and 100m square lengths shown. 

(the tool in more detail) I outlined that understanding scale was a key skill of mapping and GEES (Geog, Earth and Env Sciences) teaching. I presented my recent joint development of powers of 10 squares as a technique for getting students to understand the size of the landscape they are viewing in Google Earth. I explained that I’d been looking at a study site for months and it wasn’t until I prepared the materials for my presentation that I realised how huge it was!

Delegate Votes: 8
Delegate Comments:

  • Good for introductory teaching 
  • Important for looking at landuse change 
  • Liked the fact you could compare a landscape to a house size. 

Space Stories

A screen shot from one of my students presentations showing just how much we all use air travel

(how to record the video) I described an assessment I have just used with my undergraduate map design students where I got them to produce a 4 minute talk recorded as a video based in Google Earth. They produced materials in Google Earth and then videoed themselves giving the talk. After problems with them not really understanding what made a good map presentation last year I limited them to certain topics connected with climate change.

Delegate Votes: 17 
Delegate Comments: Again, these split into suggested applications and skills.  Applications:

  • Landscape Change: 2 comments that it was good for showing landscapes over time i.e. archaeology, history, glacier retreat due to climate change 
  • River Module: A delegate said s/he was going to introduce it in his/her river module 
  • Weather Forecast: would be good to get students to give a weather forecast 

  • Not PowerPoint: 3 comments that it was good to get students to present using something else than powerpoint. 
  • Before Fieldwork: It would be good as preparation prior to a field trip.

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