Monday, February 19, 2018


Details of a new option for GIS training were released earlier. Steve Richardson, who wrote quite a lot of the resources that are available on the ArcGIS Schools Resources section has organised a day looking at embedding GIS in the curriculum to support the progression of some key geographical skills and knowledge.

The price is £160 for the day, including lunch and refreshments and the first course is being run down on the South Coast in June.
More details here on the Eventbrite page.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Busting geographical misconceptions

Thanks to Simon Kuestenmacher on Twitter (follow him if you don't already) for the tipoff to this StoryMap.

As usual, scroll down to reveal the content.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions

This blog has a mapping focus, so here's my latest mapping related news...

Back from two days in the New Forest with Ordnance Survey. We were asked to come to Brockenhurst to a nice hotel, where we were to meet with the Ordnance Survey team that supports their core #GetOutside initiative. As you may remember from an earlier post, I applied to be involved for 2018/19 and was delighted to find out some weeks ago that I was going to be taking part, and also that Dan Raven Ellison, who applied independently, was also going to be going along.
A very early start and a long journey on 4 trains was needed, with Dan joining me in London.
Registration, coffee, and some chats to faces that I knew, including Sarah Outen.

Through to the main meeting room, where we were made very welcome and introduced to the scheme, and given new jackets and boots and various other things. We found out more about OS Maps, and the whole #GetOutside campaign.
We heard from previous and ongoing Champions, and also met Ben Fogle and Kenton Cool, who talked about their plans to climb Everest. Not something that most people can manage, and therefore my work will be far more down to earth, and even below sea level... with an educational emphasis.
We had a photo call: group and individual, and enjoyed some excellent food. In the afternoon, we were set a challenge, and I enjoyed working with the folks on my table: we were placed on a table for the day with other Champions, and some of the other partners involved. I had the chance to speak to Dave from Camping and Caravanning Club's membership magazine, and also Pip from 'Country Walking', which has been leading the #Walk1000miles campaign, which I've also blogged about previously.

We had a challenger treasure hunt to take part in, and we managed to cover the longest distance by running relays back and forwards for part of the time. Thanks to my team, who are pictured below, and there are also links to their twitter feeds for you to follow.
I'm looking forward to working over the coming year to encourage everyone to spend more time outside during 2018. It's certainly galvanised my own plans for getting outside more. In fact, when I finish this post I'm off out to the local common to get some pictures...

I'm also hatching up some plans with Dan Raven Ellison to connect our work with schools and young people, and the curriculum, and already have two schools in mind to visit...

Index of Deprivation StoryMap

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Digimap for Schools resource revamp

Over the last few years, I've written a number of Secondary resources to accompany the Digimap for Schools service. My colleague Paula Owens wrote a whole tranche of Primary resources too.

The resource area has now had a revamp so that it is easier to access particular resources from the archive.

The new look page can be accessed HERE.

It has resources for a range of subjects, not just geography, which is a reminder that if you are thinking of getting a subscription for your school, you should make a point that it is not just for geography, and have it paid from general budgets rather than your own budget...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Google Earth Tutorial Videos

Worth checking these out, and following on Twitter too...

80 000 views

Thanks for visiting and reading the blog... Looking forward to seeing what people do with these geospatial tools in 2018...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

StoryMaps Online Course

Regular readers of the blog will know that I've been sharing a range of StoryMaps over the last couple of years, as the ESRI map-making technology has developed apace. They are a wonderful way of shaping a narrative from images, mapping and interactive elements.

If you want to take your use of StoryMaps to the next level, and have some of your CPD budget left to spend, you might want to check out a new course that is being offered by Joseph Kerski, who travels the world talking about the power of GIS. The course is being made available through eNet Learning, and costs $95 (or whatever that is in pounds these days)
Details of the course are here - it starts on the 4th of January 2018


This course will enable participants to understand why stories can be effectively told with today’s interactive, web-based story maps, learn how to teach and assess student work with story maps, and learn how to create story maps that incorporate sounds, video, photographs, narrative, and other multimedia. Through readings, videos, quizzes, discussion with your colleagues, and hands-on activities, you will learn how and why to create story maps using the ArcGIS Online platform and be confident that you can use these tools in your instruction.


For thousands of years, maps have been used to tell stories. These maps told which lands were “known” and which lands were “terra incognita”, coastlines and new political boundaries, and routes of famous explorers. As in the past, maps are used today to tell stories about the regions, places, and physical and cultural characteristics of our world.

Today’s maps are detailed, allowing exploration of the median age and income of a community’s neighborhoods and the chemical conditions of water in specific wells or soil in a specific field. Maps give information about data that is occurring in real time—such as current wildfire extents, weather, earthquakes, or the location of all of a city’s buses. Maps describe historical events from famous battles to land use changes over time in a rainforest. Maps can be in two dimensions, and three dimensions, and can be accessed on any device—smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer. They can be embedded in web pages and other multimedia and other tools, and can be updated instantly by citizen scientists using their smartphones. Maps cover thousands of relevant themes and phenomena and scales–from local to global scale.

Another key difference between modern maps versus those of the past is that modern maps are much more than reference documents. True, maps still show us where things are. But they are valued because they help us understand the “whys” of “where” – by allowing us to use spatial analytical tools to detect patterns, relationships, and trends. Thus, maps have become critical analytical tools that can help us solve the problems in our world that are growing more complex and increasingly affect our everyday lives. These include epidemics, biodiversity loss, natural hazards, agricultural viability, political instability, climate change, food security, energy, water quality and quantity, and many more.

Globally, you could make maps of any of the above themes. In your own community, you could tell stories about sports, community gardens, housing type, schools and libraries and other community resources, tree cover, litter and graffiti, zoning changes, historical settlement, how your community compares to others across your region or to those halfway around the world, and other aspects of your community through these live story maps. Students can use story maps to report on the results of their investigations. As a researcher, you or your students could use these maps to investigate pertinent issues in human health, sociology, political geography, public safety, or a host of other disciplines. As an instructor, you could use maps to tell stories to enhance your lessons in courses ranging from geography to biology to history to language arts to earth science to mathematics, and other disciplines. You can use story maps to assess student work and a method whereby students can communicate their investigations to you and to their peers.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Protecting communities against Tsunamis

Another excellent StoryMap. Thanks to Bob Lang for the tipoff to this one...

Saturday, December 02, 2017


As a member of the Geographical Association's Secondary Phase Committee for the last 13 years (with a short break while I worked for the GA), I've presented many times at the GA Conference since, and also been involved in national curriculum change discussions, awarding body consultations for new GCSEs, consultative groups, book reviewing and many other contributions to the work of the GA.
Follow us on Twitter too please @GA_SPC

This year we are tweeting out 125 Top Tips.
We've produced a series of Top Tips before, and you can access or download them all from our SPC page on the GA website.

Here's the Advent Calendar that I put together to get the project off to a good start too...
Keep following for the next 125 days, which are also a countdown (or count up) to the GA Conference in Sheffield.
2018 marks the 125th anniversary of the GA, hence the 125 tips

Follow us on #125geotips and please feel free to send us any suggestions of your own to get involved in the project please. We'll happily RT your own geographical toptips with the hashtag...

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Land Use Cover mapping

Alasdair Rae has produced a number of excellent maps, and this is one his most useful projects to date.
This BBC News article is interesting, and explains something of the project.

You can use the tool linked to from above to explore your own area.
Have a guess what the percentages might be before you do this, or compare your area with the country.
There are some interesting additional facts in this blog. I like this one for example:

Buildings cover less of Britain than the land revealed when the tide goes out...

Download the whole Atlas of Land Cover in the UK here....

I put in my own postcode where I live, expecting a larger than average amount for farmland...
And unsurprisingly, it is up to 81%, with only 3% built on...

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter. @undertheraedar

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Parallel Maps

There are many map visualisations out there, and most of them have appeared on LivingGeography over the years.
Parallel maps have been getting a lot of attention over the last few days as one of their latest projects (from October 2017), which maps census data on population structure has been more widely discovered.
It includes a 3D option with panning and tilting of the mapping.
The population pyramids are drawn instantly as the cursor is moved over a particular Census output area.
This allows for instant comparisons between different parts of a city, or urban/rural comparisons, or a look at how certain areas are attracting retirement populations.

Here's evidence of Student populations being concentrated in certain areas of Leeds - linked to the OCR 'B' Geography chapters that I wrote.

It's worth remembering that there are other Parallel map projects too - explore the whole website to find maps on air quality and other variables.

For example, how about these COLOUR IN YOUR OWN MAPS options.

Zoom to an area, and then use the buttons to identify a particular colour for it...

These maps can also be switched to other views.

Also try the RISK OF FLOODING maps, from April 2017, which are particularly useful when exploring flood risk topics with students.

There are plenty more.... Lovely work by the folks at Parallel...

Thursday, November 02, 2017


There have been many StoryMaps created over the last year or so, since the new templates made the process much easier.

One Twitter feed to follow is that of Allen Carroll.

He is the Programme Manager for Storytelling at ESRI, and former Chief Cartographer at National Geographic, so has quite a pedigree in map creation....
He regularly shares links to great StoryMaps, so follow him for plenty more...

Tourism StoryMap