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Learning geography with GIS: Integrating GIS into upper secondary school geography curricula

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The latest school reform in Norway, the Knowledge Promotion Reform, was implemented in 2006. The reform applies to the curriculum for upper secondary schools (pupils aged 16-19 years) and explicitly states that for a geography course taught two hours per week pupils should know how to use digital maps and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). While the reform does not provide any definition of GIS, the authors consider some alternative definitions. They also discuss some GIS-data viewers, GIS-based web applications, and GIS software. Based on responses from a questionnaire survey focusing on geography teachers in Norway, the article presents the state of the art regarding teachers' attitudes towards integrating GIS in teaching. The main barriers to introducing GIS in teaching, as identified in the United Kingdom, are also re-examined and it is assessed whether they apply to Norway. To avoid major obstacles, most school researchers advocate that GIS should be introduced according to a 'learning with GIS' approach. The authors reach a similar conclusion and advocate that the integration of GIS into Norwegian classrooms should happen through evolution rather than revolution. In practical terms this mean that geography teachers should start with GIS-based web applications and/or free GIS-data viewers.

Keywords: GIS in schools; curriculum reforms; teachers' experience with GIS

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-03-01

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