This guest blog is written by Brendan Conway (Twitter: BC@mildthing99), a geography teacher who works at Notre Dame Senior School, Cobham and St Mary’s University Twickenham.
GIS and Pedagogy
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are now very accessible to all students in our schools, since Esri UK made ArcGIS Online freely available. GIS has been a required component of the geography curriculum for some years. However, beyond teaching about GIS, the potential for teaching with GIS is yet to be fully realised and this includes the capacity of GIS to be used in other subjects.
Here are some examples of GIS resources created using ArcGIS Online which hopefully demonstrate the wider curriculum potential, for the London area in particular:
GIS in English Literature, Geography, History
Travel back in time to the early years of the London theatre scene which laid the foundations for what is now one of the most important collection of dramatic arts in the world. This interactive Story Map Tour shows the locations of London’s theatres in Shakespeare’s era. There are linked images for each location.
As well as providing a cartographical guide to the locations, the story map demonstrates how geographical information systems (GIS) can be used for educational purposes beyond geographical education. In this case, GIS provides a resource for students and teachers studying subjects such as Drama, English Literature or History.
The original source for the data was the Shakespearean London Theatres (ShaLT) project. It was updated and written to a csv spreadsheet file, which can be easily shared with students so that they can create their own maps or story maps.
Here is an example of the same data used for the story map above to create a web map with pop-ups providing details:
The Tweet to the left shows a screen shot of an animation of a story map and web map work. Please click on link to view the animated tweet: https://twitter.com/mildthing99/status/1235269804577062912
GIS in Geography, Science (Astronomy)
London’s air pollution problems have been well-known for many years, but until recently, its light pollution issue had a lower profile.
However, astronomers have been concerned about this since the 19th century. In 1949, the BBC reported on the decision to move the famous Royal Observatory Greenwich to Herstmonceux in East Sussex (explained on their website). The commentator explained that the main reasons for relocation were ‘the growth of London with its haze and the artificial brightness of its night sky’. View the BBC’s 1949 report on the transfer of the Royal Observatory Greenwich to Herstmonceux in this Tweet (shown as a static image here on the right).
Awareness of light pollution is improving, but as yet there is little action to manage it. The mapping of light pollution using GIS can help us to understand the issue, showing the variation across landscapes. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and LUC environmental consultants created a superb GIS ‘Night Blight’ map of light pollution intensity. On a global scale, organisations such as the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) and the International Dark-Sky Association have are celebrating and promoting places with low levels of light pollution.
ArcGIS Online Survey123 was used to investigate Year 7 students’ perceptions of light pollution in the SW London and NW Surrey which were then be mapped. In this case, ‘Firefly’ symbols were used to show data gathered then mapped by the students about ‘dark-sky’ quality in their neighbourhoods. As an extension task, students were invited to compare the spatial distribution observed with secondary data including the ‘Highway Access Europe’ layer which is freely available in ArcGIS Online. The map cannot be shared due to GDPR, but this screenshot (below) provides an idea of the web maps produced by the students.
GIS in Art, Geography, History
For several years, the London Inheritance blog has produced an impressive series of image-driven studies about changes in locations around the city. One particular blog considered the work of the London And The War Artists Advisory Committee.
It was an impressive selection of the war artists’ work, in an era when photography had yet to dominate and later eclipse the illustration of actuality. Most of the images are curated by the Imperial War Museum. They provide glimpses of wartime events in London. Some record the devastation and horror, while others depict routine everyday life, often with simple poignancy – perhaps especially ‘The Evacuation of Children from Southend, Sunday 2nd June 1940’.
Everything happens somewhere and with some research, it was possible to locate all of the images, often with high accuracy. This data was then used to create a story map showing the images alongside the location of the artwork.
The story map can be seen on this link: The London War Artists: Where did they paint their pictures in WWII?
Tweet showing animation of story map is show to the left.
A further collection of GIS resource ideas:
LGfL and ArcGiS Online
GIS is mandated in the georgraphy national curriculum from Key Stage 3 to 5 but it also many applications across the STEAM subject area and beyond. ArcGIS Online is extremely versatile (as Brendan has shown in this blog) and can be used as a front of class teaching tool, for homework or extended work such as EPQ’s and the NEA for geography A-level.
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