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Published May 28, 2007 | Geography

GIS in the Classroom, at the IT Fair and Beyond

Information technology has made itself a part of the academic life of Cegep Champlain - St. Lawrence. Teachers in the Science, Business Administration, CALL, Social Science and Tourism Programs use IT innovatively and extensively in their courses. The work of one teacher, which is described below, illustrates how the use of IT can make classes come alive with information from diverse sources that were inaccessible before the advent of on-line communication.

Jan Warnke has included the GIS (Geographic Information System) in his teaching of Geography for some time. Based on Information Technologies, GIS is a resource for mapping, describing and analyzing geographic information. The Idaho State University Digital Atlas mentions that the GIS can quickly and efficiently analyze a great deal of information. This data can facilitate decision-making in areas such as land use and transportation. Data sets can be developed using a variety of variables (social class, the GDP, etc.) and analyzed in order to decide which countries should have priority in obtaining International Aid, for example.

In his Cultural and Political Geography class, Jan invited his students to use a map available that illustrates some of the possibilities of the GIS software. This map gives information that was used on a fieldtrip to the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal. An exhibition on "Mapping Ethnic Montreal" based on similar websites will be presented at the upcoming IT Fair held at John Abbott College on June 5, 2007.

Jan is developing a project for the CCDMD involving the GIS with Janet Smith of Dawson College and Omar Bickell, who works with Koumbit. The project is at a preliminary stage. A focus group will meet on May 31, 2007, to explore the interests and needs of Cegep teachers regarding the GIS. Ultimately, the objective is to show that this Information Technology can be used creatively within the Cegep curriculum to develop competencies in ways that capture our students' imaginations.

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