Spatial learning at Apple’s iTunes U

Just in time for the summer conference season and long flights, the iTunes 7.2 update has opened iTunes U, their educational portal for audio and video lectures, to the world at large. This portal includes quite a few topics that I think would be of interest to our listeners and readers including:

  • Geography of World Cultures from Stanford (currently #2 in the downloads right behind “What is Existentialism”)
  • Introduction to Computers from UC Berkeley, which includes programming concepts
  • Coffee Hour to Go from PSU’s Geography Dept the one I will probably be listening to the most on my upcoming flights
  • …to name just a few. If you have a long commute or are just up for a little continuing education, check it out. Please keep in mind that while you need iTunes to search and download, most of the audio and video are in standard formats so you can play them using most any media player (I’m still a fan of San Disk’s Sansa series of players). Also, if you aren’t up for iTunes U you can find most of these materials on their institutions websites, but I like me a good portal 🙂

    Summer School: Apple’s iTunes U Means You Can Ditch Class and Still Learn – Gizmodo

    The future of GIS technology

    Inspired by an old Numb3rs episode on schools and rfid, I started to see what GIS related technologies are being used in schools. According to the BBC, a U.K. based company, Edexcel, has created technology to rfid tag exam papers. U.S. company, aptly named Graffiti Tracker inc. has created technology to track, analyze, and reduce graffiti. You can watch their case study. It has become almost routine for new school buses to come with GPS tracking. Student tracking is gaining momentum in schools. The increased use of technology in schools has caused controversy, some people argue that they aren’t cost effective or infringe on privacy rights. Others, like some bus drivers, believe technology will be used to justify lower salaries or hiring less employees. I wonder if kids who use GIS technologies so seamlesslly in everyday life, will be so tech savvy they will push technology to a higher level then anyone can imagine in highschool (even grade school) and later in life as working professionals.

    Animations of Housing Growth

    Trulia Hindsight is an interesting mashup that shows the grow of populations in the US over time. Their intent is to document the creation of every house in the US. Using this data and Virual Earth, they have created animations that place dots on the map when houses were built in any particular area. The map features a few pre-built animations, like “Urban Decline of Detroit” and “Formation of a New City”. You can also use the search engine to find a particular area of interest and watch the houses being created over time. The data seems to be the most robust in their target areas – which is to be expected – but there are other areas which have good data. Our area does not, but the town in North Carolina where my father grew up has plenty of data back to 1880!