Danny Edelson: Scaling Up Classroom Maps

Geo-Learning“Scaling Up Classroom Maps” Daniel C. EdelsonVice President, National Geographic Education Read Danny Edelson’s latest column in the Spring 2011 edition of ESRI’s ArcNews. An excerpt appears below. Usually, when you talk about the scale of a map, you’re talking about the ratio of distances on the map to distances in the real world. These days, however, when educators working with National Geographic maps talk … Continue reading Danny Edelson: Scaling Up Classroom Maps

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.

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The Importance of Innovation in Teaching


“Geo Learning”
A column by Daniel C. Edelson

Vice President for Education,
National Geographic Society

the-importance-of-lg.jpgStudents using crayons and a map of the world can draw their best guesses of what the distribution of temperatures is like all around the world in the month of July. This activity can be engaging to students, giving them a chance to draw on what they know in a way that makes them curious about what they don’t know. This lesson is based on research that says that if students are asked to articulate their current understanding of a phenomenon before they are taught something new about it, then they learn the new material more effectively because they can connect it to their existing understanding.

Giving people an image of what learning could be like is a really important part of improving education. Students, teachers, administrators, parents, policy makers, and community members have remarkably similar views of what education looks like, and those views have not changed much since we were in school.

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Sarah Jane On Blogging

In his recent ArcNews column, “Get Involved with Geo-Education Reform,” National Geographic Vice President for Education Danny Edelson stressed the need for those of us employed in professions that utilize geographic knowledge and skills to get the word out to friends, family, and others in our networks about what we DO and WHY it’s important. His call to action is duly noted. While I do … Continue reading Sarah Jane On Blogging