Sunny Derby and the GA Annual Conference

Despite it not feeling very Spring like yet, a sunny (but chilly) Derby played host to the annual Geographical Association Conference.  Held during the school holidays, it is a great opportunity for meeting geography teachers using Digimap for Schools and to engage others who may not have heard of the service.

Digimap for Schools was represented on the Ordnance Survey stand in the exhibition and a workshop was held on the Saturday.

Friday was a busy day on the stand with plenty of teachers stopping by to either find out about the service or to tell us how much they love using Digimap for Schools and to hear about the latest set of new tools and enhancements.

In previous years, I haven’t been able to get time to attend any of the interesting sounding lectures that take place during the conference.  This year, I really wanted to make sure I got to at least one and so attended the ‘Mapping the route to resilience’ lecture by  Mark Thurstain-Goodwin of GeoFutures Ltd.  From the description of the lecture, this sounded like it would be good example to inspire the use of GIS in the classroom.

Mark’s key message was that mapping should be at the heart of geography teaching and learning, which I  agree with.  Mark used an example of how mapping can be used to analyse and answer questions about how we can plan for future food security with the resources available.

I found it a very interesting lecture and a great example of spatial analysis and mapping.  I was a little disappointed to not hear anything about specific technologies, tools and skills required to carry out such analysis and how GIS can be implemented in the classroom.  I hope the teachers attending found it inspiring and will consider carrying out their own analysis using the same or similar topic in their own area.  Rather than only using the materials and images that will be provided from the talk.  Whilst using maps created by someone else is a good way to examine an interesting topic, I feel that giving students exposure to GIS and enabling them to carry out their own spatial analysis and create maps, will create more enthusiasm and interest for putting maps in the thick of it.

Saturday saw another steady day on the stand for those coming to see what was on offer.  In the afternoon, a 50 minute Digimap for Schools workshop was held where attendees were given the chance to get their hands on Digimap for Schools and have a play.  Delegates used measurement tools to measure their garden, added a photo of the olympic stadium from geograph and used the buffer tool to draw a 1km zone around their own school.

It was another successful conference and from catching up on Twitter and blogs, many found it to be a stimulating and worthwhile.


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