by Pamela Young, Published December 10, 2012
YPSILANTI, MICH. - An exciting collaboration, that benefits ALL K-12 students, teachers and school administrators in the State of Michigan, provides a complete suite of geographic information systems (GIS) FREE to K-12 schools.
This partnership, between Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) and Eastern Michigan University, changes the way teachers can design learning opportunities and teach their K-12 students. Due to the availability of ArcGIS, a state-of-the-art GIS software suite, all public, charter, parochial and private schools can join the Geospatial Revolution today. Educators and students should visit the EMU Michigan ESRI K-12 GIS license website to register and download the software.
"This website is an excellent resource for educators and students interested in learning more about instruction using GIS and learning opportunities," said Mike Dueweke, the K-12 site license administrator. "At this site, you can request software; access online Virtual Campus training courses and a variety of training materials; get technical support; enroll in professional development seminars; learn what other teachers are doing with GIS in the state and nation; and share teaching experiences."
"Statewide access to these industry-leading software tools and online training courses will allow Michigan students and teachers to access real-world, problem-based learning activities that are relevant and engaging," said Jann Joseph, dean of Eastern's College of Education. "Our partnership with ESRI will enable thousands of our teachers and students to develop new skills and competencies using GIS tools to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts, and across all areas of the curriculum."
Instructionally, GIS is well suited to driving Problem-Based Learning (PBL), an approach to classroom inquiry that is guided by a question, with students collecting data and making analytical conclusions. PBL and inquiry are specifically mentioned in the National Science Education Standards as instructional frameworks best suited to support deep, meaningful learning.
GIS allows students to collect and visualize authoritative data about the question of interest, adding their own data to a map before performing a wide range of analyses. Students working with the GIS tools can become a valuable resource to their communities through the projects they complete.
GIS problems are steeped in both critical thinking and spatial thinking elements, motivating learners as they learn work-force ready skills. In short, GIS allows students to do exactly what many professionals do in thousands of career fields daily.
In addition to supporting educational goals, schools and districts can use the GIS license software to perform key administrative support tasks related to facilities management; vehicle routing and scheduling; district boundary mapping; geo-demographic studies; site new schools or close schools; provide campus safety; and plan disaster preparedness. These applications allow schools to run more efficiently while saving dwindling resources. For more information, contact Mike Dueweke (firstname.lastname@example.org).