“I feel more confident in using new websites and applications in the classroom so that students have a better understanding of geospatial technologies and why we use them.”
COGA has introduced hundreds of teachers to computer hardware and software systems used to store, display, analyze, and map information. Teachers need opportunities to develop lesson plans, test them, and evaluate student learning. Of the 179 school districts in Colorado, approximately one quarter has a teacher with GIS training. COGA intends to double the number of school districts with trained teachers by 2018.
Survey results from a first-year pilot project demonstrated that over half the participating teachers had little familiarity with geographic information systems when they started the workshop. Post-workshop comparison showed that all participants with limited understanding of GIS increased their knowledge by the end of the workshop. Over thirty sample lesson plans using GIS have been produced and shared with the geography educator community through the COGA website.
Teaching about geospatial technology includes instruction in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and geomatics. GIS uses computer systems to capture, store, and display data related to positions on the Earth’s surface. GIS projects many different kinds of data on one map, enabling people to see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships.
Educators enhance instruction using GIS through multidisciplinary activities with real data involving authentic tasks and assessments. Students explore scales from the local to the global, encouraging community connections. Despite the prevalence of geospatial technology on phones, in news reports, and in scientific research, teachers often lack knowledge about GIS or experience in creating lesson plans.
Students need to develop skills in spatial analysis and undertake scientific sampling methodology, but they can be successful only if teachers are knowledgeable and comfortable with technology and content. Closing this gap is important because geospatial analysis skills are increasingly expected in the workplace.
Exposing teachers to geospatial technology is a first step to offering these skill sets to students. For $3000, up to 25 teachers can participate in a hands-on district or school workshop to learn about educational strategies in GIS. More extensive workshops requiring the production of lesson plans and providing follow-up support for up to25 teachers at a school or district can be produced for $5000. The Colorado Geographic Alliance encourages GIS professionals to participate in the Association of American Geographers – Esri ConnectED GeoMentor program. COGA is working with these national organizations to match mentors with teachers in Colorado.Funders and Partners
Other partners include School Districts across the state, such as Academy, Cherry Creek, Colorado Springs, Elizabeth, Englewood, Falcon, Fountain-Fort Carson, Pueblo, Limon, Mesa County, Windsor
The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against CTEq's Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.
Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.
Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.
Ensure work is sustainable.
Demonstrate replicability and scalability.
Create high impact partnerships
Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.
Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience
Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.
Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.
Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.