ICT in Geography

ICT in secondary schools: a short guide for teachers, edited by David Mitchell and produced by the GA with the support of the RGS-IBG and Becta, outlines some of the most important ICT available for teaching and learning geography, both in and outside the classroom. Drawing on the work of geography teachers and what they find really works, each short chapter takes a separate area of technology and explains, in simple terms, its meaning, why it is helpful for teaching and learning geography, and practical steps to get started.

Digital Explorer’s work is highlighted in the section on Virtual Fieldwork, written by Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop.

Ofsted views support [de]‘s work

The Learning outside the classroom report by Ofsted published this month comes out in strong support of the value of learning outside the classroom in raising pupil motivation and attainment.

What was particularly good to see, was that some of the points raised by Ofsted directly support Digital Explorer’s work.

Learning outside the classroom was most successful when it was an integral element of long-term curriculum planning and closely linked to classroom activities.

This is exactly what the expedition to Dubai and Oman achieved, with every pupil at one school involved in curriculum learning in every subject based on the expedition.

The second section that supports Digital Explorer’s work:

Some schools have made an explicit link between the use of school grounds and education for sustainable development. They effectively promote pupils’ understanding that care for their immediate surroundings is the first step in caring for their planet [...] The survey showed that primary schools were more effective than secondary schools in using their grounds and locality to support learning about sustainability.

These findings were backed up by the recommendation that leadership and management need to:

[...] make better use of the grounds and immediate locality to promote learning outside the classroom

The manual on School Grounds Projects enables schools to do exactly this and is designed for the secondary curriculum.

Two great days’ training

Thank you to all the participants at the past two days’ training at the Royal Geographical Society. It’s been great getting the courses underway for the 2008/9 academic year.

I promised participants that I would post their work on the blog, but unfortunately some of the advanced work was lost with Google Earth being closed down before I could get to it.

Participant Google Earth files, RGS-IBG Course 21/10/2008

Participant Google Earth files, RGS-IBG Advanced Course 22/10/08

Please do comment with any more thoughts on how to apply the course content in the classroom or on expedition.

Environmental education – great use of Flash

The Forest Life site from European Forestry company, UPM, is a great example of using rich media to create an immersive educational environment. Full marks!

Interactive history of exploration

Ed Verillo kindly sent me a link to this site, a fun and interactive history of exploration.

New School Environment Project video

It was very exciting to run a pilot School Grounds Project at Eastbury Comprehensive School. We used many of the same techniques that we have employed on overseas expeditions – digital media, blogging, geo-tools (Google Earth and Google Maps) – to investigate the School Grounds and then take action to make a difference to the school environment.

This pilot wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Google UK and especially Kate Hammond and Liz Ericson. Also many thanks go to the pupils and staff at Eastbury Comprehensive School, who were amazing, enthusiastic and talented. Special thanks to Tracy Knight and Ruth Owen for their help and support.

This amazing film was made by the wonderful Jonny Madderson of Just So Films. Thank you for all your hard work.

Continuing thanks to Mark Thackara at Olympus for the great pupil-proof TOUGH digital cameras, that we used for photography and video during the pilot.

As always thank you to Marjan who makes sure that everything just happens, somehow, though still not quite sure how.

[de]‘s Google Earth training video on YouTube

The video of Digital Explorer’s ‘Virtual Fieldwork Using Google Earth’ course is now on YouTube. Thank you to everyone who made the recent teacher training UK Roadshow possible: Kate Hammond and Ed Parsons at Google, Shane Winser and Lucy Bruzzone at the Royal Geographical Society, Will Evans at Just So Films and Marjan Shirzad here at Digital Explorer.

Google Earth at the Geographical Association Conference

Just received a very nice note from the Geographical Association. I ran two sessions at their conference at the end of March and managed to pack in 55 geography teachers. We managed to make good progress especially given I had condensed the normal 6-7 hour course into 2 hours.

Anyway, they had some very nice things to say…

Excellent and inspiring new ideas

I have never realised the full potential of Google Earth as I have never had the time to sit and mess around with the computer for long enough. An excellent session with an excellent handbook to take back to school.

Great way to develop fieldwork in a very pupil friendly way. Have already used it in my teaching as a way of promoting appreciation of fieldwork.

Can be put in to use immediately – hopefully with out too much cash outlay!

Excellent tutor – good practical ways to use Google earth.

Well delivered, fast pace, interesting and appropriate skills being implanted

Thank you to Lucy at the GA for organising ever thing and if you would like to find out more about what happened at this year’s conference see the Geographical Association website.

Can’t believe I’m agreeing with Ofsted!

An Ofsted report has just lambasted the state of geography teaching in the UK. The report based on inspections over the last three years found that geography was the worst-taught subject and that pupils saw it as boring. Now, most of us know that this isn’t true – geography teachers up and down the land continue to inspire and engage young people with the world around them.

But, here’s the bit I really agree with. Ofsted want more fieldwork (bye-bye cotton-wool culture), and more relevance (hello climate change and fair trade).

There is so much scope for making geographical learning exciting, engaging and inspiring.

Digital Explorer wants to bring the world to the classroom in as many ways as possible using the latest technology.

If you work for the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families) then contact us, or please forward this on if you have contacts.

We have plans to change completely the way that young people interact with the world. Come on board.

Full BBC article

A message from Antarctica

In March 2008, Robert Swan and the Inspire Antarctic team will be broadcasting live from the newly launched E-Base in Bellingshausen on King George Island. Robert will be living solely off renewable energy for 2 weeks and sharing his daily experiences with the world through a cutting-edge, interactive website (to be launched mid-February 2008).

Through daily video broadcasts, photography and live chats, Robert and the 2041 team aim to bring the message of preserving Antarctica, promoting sustainable lifestyles and combating climate change to a wider audience.

Follow the adventure online, beginning March 1, 2008, and be sure to check out the BRAND NEW WEBSITE, going live mid-February 2008!!

Join the Facebook group to keep in touch with developments.

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