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NASD Social Studies in-service: Wednesday, Aug 22, morning session

What are geospatial technologies?


We're focusing on just two geospatial technologies: Google Earth ( and My World GIS (free trial download). Google Earth is free; My World requires a license; you will be getting one.


Google Earth

  • Who already uses this? How?
  • Getting to know the tool
    • Search box
    • Layers
    • How to navigate
    • Adding markup
  • Let's see examples of what it can do
  • So how/why might I want to use Google Earth in my class?
    • Placing events in a geographic context (e.g., Battle of Little Bighorn)
    • Tracking events across time / geo-space (e.g., expansion of Third Reich)
    • Providing a basemap for lectures / worksheets / etc.
    • Having students construct or edit/extend markup 
  • Try it yourself: Create a folder with a few (2-3) markup items, save it to a file, then send that file to a colleague. Did it work?
  • Problem areas
    • Navigation
    • Editing markup
    • Organizing and saving your work
  • Where to go for more

My World GIS

  • The easiest way to understand what a GIS does is to see some examples
  • How/why is this an important piece of software?
    • Combination of maps & data – two of the weaker areas for social studies students
    • Opportunities for new styles of pedagogy. For example, consider the predict-observe-explain model from science class, applied to antebellum slave populations. (Again, dataset is in ArcGIS, but can be run in My World)
    • Balancing of micro and macro understandings of history? (e.g., Holocaust data = macro, but raises interesting connections to the micro)
    • Opportunities to be surprised
      • Surprise yourself: Who knew to expect Holocaust data from Libya & Tunisia? What's the story with Bulgaria? 
      • Surprise your students: In the slave data, most students won't know to expect enslaved persons living in Pennsylvania all the way up to the 1840s!
      • Be surprised by your students: Detailed, map-driven note-taking (but your mileage may vary...)
  • Important caveats
    • Software is challenging to learn
    • Data can be hard to find
    • Maps can be even harder to find
    • You don't have the software yet!
  • Things working in your favor
    • The software is coming! In the meantime, feel free to play around with the free trial
    • I will happily do the hard stuff for you!
    • Many tools are moving online. For example, I moved the Eastern Theater battles from the Civil War data into a browser-based GIS.
  • Following up: I actually have an ongoing list of Google Earth & GIS materials posted here: Geospatial Social Studies
  • Questions / comments / concerns?

Goals, timing for afternoon session



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