Geographic Information Systems: The Missing Educational Technology

By Daniel C. Edelson, Ph.D. May 27, 2014 Author’s note: On May 27, 2014, Esri, the market leader in Geographic Information Systems technology, announced a commitment in support of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative.  Esri will provide free access to ArcGIS Online to all elementary and secondary schools in the United State.  Under this pledge, schools will receive the same advanced mapping software used by government … Continue reading Geographic Information Systems: The Missing Educational Technology

Danny Edelson: Tricorders–The Next Tool for Geographic Learning?

Tricorders–The Next Tool for Geographic Learning?
“Geo Learning”
by Daniel C. Edelson

Vice President for Education
National Geographic Society

If you’re of a certain age, you probably find yourself looking around and remarking on how much today’s world looks like the world that Gene Roddenberry imagined in the original Star Trek series. OK, we don’t have transporters or warp drives. But we do have computers you can talk to, two-way video communications, and devices that work like communicators and tricorders.

There is a lot of discussion these days about what impact these Star Trek technologies might have on education. In just the last couple months, I attended a one-day summit on the promise of wireless technologies for education and a two-day workshop on the use of mobile devices for citizen science.

For geoliteracy, I think these devices offer amazing opportunities to move learning outside the school building, and we’ve been designing software at National Geographic that students will be able to take into the world on handhelds that will enable them to record observations, combine them with observations of others, and analyze them for geospatial patterns. However, an inescapable challenge of learning in the real world is that the real world is complex and unpredictable. Sometimes it is too complex and unpredictable to enable you to be sure that you can teach specific relationships or skills through real-world experiences.

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Danny Edelson: Back to School with Geo-Literacy

Back to School with Geo-Literacy
(This article appeared in the fall edition of the ESRI publication, ArcNews Online. Please note that it is an archival piece, and excuse us for the late posting!)
“Geo Learning”
by Daniel C. Edelson,
Vice President for Education
National Geographic Society

It is back-to-school season as I write this, and I’m thinking about goals for the next year. In education, as in many other domains, goals are everything. If you don’t have clear goals that you can communicate effectively, then you’re never going to make any progress.

When I started working at the National Geographic Society, I was immediately confronted with the challenge of clarifying and articulating the goals of our K-12 educational efforts. This process has taken some time. I’ve been here more than two years, and we’re still working on it, but it’s probably the most important work we’ll do.

National Geographic has been committed to improving K-12 geography education in the United States and Canada for decades. However, improving geography education is, at the same time, too broad and too narrow. Geography is boundless, so our first goal-setting challenge was to find a focus that is narrower than geography as a whole.

Continue reading “Danny Edelson: Back to School with Geo-Literacy”