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GIS for learning anchored in the environment

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are part of our lives on a daily basis. They are particularly useful for stimulating and motivating young people to learn through concrete and dynamic projects. What place could they take in education?

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By Arabelle Sauvé, bilingual specialist in elementary and secondary education in the Schools and Research ofEsri Canada

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are part of our lives on a daily basis. They are particularly useful for stimulating and motivating young people to learn through concrete and dynamic projects. What place could they take in education?

The systems ofinformation gs geographic information system (GIS) are the interactive maps and geographic data applications that we interact with every day. Since 2020, the platform is accessible free of charge to teachers and pedagogical advisors of public schools in Quebec (but also more widely across Canada), in French and in English. They have access to ArcGIS Online (IN/FR), educational resources and technical support.

GIS are tools that allow students to explore the world. They stimulate critical thinking and analytical skills. They ensure that students can work on projects that use current, place-based data. GIS helps develop inquiring minds: questioning, observing and recording, analyzing, communicating, and taking action. As a result, they are at the center of their learning and are actively learning.  

What can be done with GIS in elementary and high school?

GIS are obviously allies in geography, but their great versatility also allows for the creation of collaborative and multidisciplinary projects, including languages, history, sciences (life and earth sciences, environmental chemistry, etc.), mathematics, computer science and more. These examples of GIS use can be found at primaryin the teaching of science and of the social universe - human sciences.

GIS allows us to address societal and historical themes, both local and global, in a way that is both complex and more concrete by presenting them in context. They are ideal for talking about pollution, climate change, large (and small) societal upheavals, from wars to neighborhood planning. Schools and Research ofEsri Canada supports teachers in the integration of interactive and collaborative mapping technologies (www.arcgis.com) in their practice. It offers educational resourcestechnical support, teacher training and free coaching.

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