The BBC reported on a new teaching system in Singapore that utilizes ‘mixed reality’ technologies, a combination of real world information supported through visualization using head mounted displays. They use the HMDs to interact with planets, plants, and other objects. While I think this is a great idea, I am a little confused when it comes to k-12 education as it seems to have a significant tech trend that reaches from neat toys in the classroom to entire curriculum being taught online. Either way, kudos to the folks who are rolling out this technology. I hope to see better implementations of augmented reality find their way into consumer hands in the not too distant future.
This is a incredible display by a 2 year old of geographic knowledge! The video runs rather long at 8 minutes or so, but it’s impressive to watch. This girl gets an impressive number of countries correct, some of which, sadly, I’m not sure I could find without a little work!
The creators of the kids’ show Zula Patrol, which airs on PBS stations, are partnering with IBM to create an online immersive virtual world. Called Zulaworld, it will be targeted toward 4-8 year olds, and will be aimed at both home users and schools. According to the press release: “The large site will have multiple points of entry and layered content to correspond with the needs of kids at different stages of development. At the same time, educators and teachers will have access to a virtual world that supports lesson planning and global communication, while parents can access a host of different website controls.”
Not much detail is available right now, but it will be interesting to see how the IBM partnership helps shape the development of Zulaworld and whether it sees significant use in the classroom.
On Sunday in San Diego, CA, teams of students from 18 countries will meet in the National Geographic World Championship. Each country’s 3-person team consists of winners in national geography bee competitions, and will have to get through a preliminary round that includes a written portion and an outdoor activity, to get to the finals at SeaWorld’s Shamu Stadium on August 9th. The finals will be moderated by Alex Trebek, host of TV’s “Jeopardy.”
The US is the defending champion, and will be facing teams from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chinese Taipei, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore and the UK. Good luck to all the teams, and if you’re in San Diego next week, maybe you can head over to Shamu Stadium and cheer the kids on!
So, the day has finally arrived. We have begun the process of moving WVU’s Dept of Geology and Geography, including the GIS labs where we work, to our newly-renovated building which the university spent something like $28 million dollars on. It is a little bittersweet to leave White Hall, and a lot of great pioneering GIS academic work went on here for the last 15 years or so, and some pretty big names in GIS have visited or served as faculty in this building.
Our shiny new building and labs are great, though, and we’ll be settling in as soon as they get the door locks programmed, the Internet and LAN up and running, the furniture moved…….
As you might imagine, we may be a little light on the blogging again this week, but then we’ll be settled in our new lab and won’t have to travel again for at least a month, and maybe we can finally catch up!
While we were at the ESRI UC, we had a chance to talk with Drew Stephens, who is the founder of a great program called Service at Sea. The idea is to sail around the world with a group of GIS technology professionals, teachers and students, making various stops along the way to provide GIS support and training to local community organizations involved in conservation and other initiatives. The staff on board the Service at Sea sailboat will be volunteers and a small paid crew. I think there may still be opportunities for people to volunteer as well.
Service at Sea’s boat is called the Copper Sky, and the program had a symbolic launch last Friday morning in San Diego at the end of the ESRI UC. The actual program begins in July and focuses on helping organizations along the Pacific Coast up to Valdez in Alaska. After a short break for the holidays, the second segment is planned to focus on Mexico and Central America.
It’s really a great idea, a great way for members of the GIS community to help get their expertise out to local communities who really need it, and Drew has a lot of passion and energy for the project, so I think it will be an amazing experience. They have already lined up some sponsors as well, including ESRI, National Geographic Society, AAG, and Soul Fabric Films and others. The project has also been getting some good press, including a short article at SailWorld’s website.
While we weren’t there for the announcement today, we have had a few minutes to leaf through the announced ESRI GIS Education Community site that:
is a living environment for the exchange of ideas and experiences, curriculum, software, and data among GIS educators around the globe
Most of the content has existed in different places on the ESRI site, but from what I have seen so far, it is much easier to access everything from lesson plans to the MacOS X widgets that I have not even seen before (just feed widgets so far, but I am sure they will role out an ArcWebExplorer widget eventually). If you are an educator or on the prowl for continuing ed content head over to the ESRI GIS Education Community site and give it a look.
The education session at 2:00, focusing on spatial thinking, was interesting with an array of topics starting with ones that were very school focused and moving into areas where Digital Earth concepts can support education. I am going to save the other presentations for the audio, but I do want to point out that the 4th presentation was given by the folks from Elumenati who are using Elumens spherical visualization systems for educational use tieing immersion and scientific visualization. He made a great point kind of off handed that I latched on to and that I can not agree with enough…you have to get beyond the focus on technology to look at the content.
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.
I meant to post this a couple of days ago, but we wanted to give a VerySpatial congratulations to Caitlin Snaring, the winner of the 2007 National Geographic Bee. Caitlin hails from Redmond, Washington, and is only the second girl to win the Bee in its 19-year history. She has won a $25,000 college scholarship and got to meet Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek, who served as the event’s moderator.
Way to go Caitlin!