WebGIS for Geography Education: Towards a GeoCapabilities Approach

Mary Fargher
2018 ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information  
Recent developments in webGIS are transforming how geospatial information can be used in schools. Smart mapping, mobile applications, editable feature services (EFS), and web map services (WMS) are all now more freely available. These have made prior technological, cost and access challenges for teachers largely redundant but are only part of ensuring that geospatial information is used to its full educational potential in geography education. This paper argues that drawing on a GeoCapabilities
more » ... approach can enhance teacher's use of webGIS in deepening their students' abilities to think and reason with geographical knowledge and ideas. To illustrate this line of argument, a geography curriculum artefact constructed in ArcGIS Online is presented and analysed. The discussion identifies a range of specific educational benefits of geography teachers adopting a GeoCapabilities approach to using webGIS including how powerful disciplinary knowledge (PDK) can be constructed. The discussion also identifies a number of significant implications for teacher education of adopting such a methodology. The paper concludes with recommendations for the future use of webGIS in schools and geography teacher education. Geographical information systems (GIS) allow a user to map and ask questions of data about spatial relationships in ways that cannot usually be readily accessed outside of a GIS. GIS can be used to store, analyze and display a range of geo-referenced data such as maps, satellite and photographic images, tables and graphs. Evidence reflecting the educational benefits of using GIS is wide-ranging. GIS in geography education has a long history of being used to develop spatial thinking [9], promote enquiry-based learning [10], supplement geography fieldwork [11] and enhance student's visualisation of geographical phenomena through digital interactive environments [12] . When used to its full potential GIS can provide comprehensive learning environments with proven potential for studying geographical problems, issues and events of real world relevance [13] . As a result, GIS is considered to have special significance in enquiry-based learning. GIS enquiry usually focuses on five types of questions as shown in Table 1 [14].
doi:10.3390/ijgi7030111 fatcat:hqcg4jpeyvhs7paw36lk22qr7e