Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New RSGS project now live - complete with StoryMaps

In 1844, Hugh Miller: a geologist and preacher (amongst many other skills and abilities) embarked on a voyage through some of the islands of the Hebrides. 

He was a self-taught geologist, writer and editor of a key Edinburgh newspaper in the lead up to the tectonic changes in the Scottish church that culminated in the Disruption of 1843. Miller was one of Scotland’s outstanding geologists, one of the first of many Scottish ‘citizen scientists’ and stands beside the greats of Hutton, Lyell and Murchison.
The Cruise of the Betsey took place the year after the Disruption, when 450 ministers broke away from the Established Church. Miller joined his boyhood friend the Rev Swanson, a keen supporter of the Disruption, who had been removed from his Small Isles parish and his manse on Eigg. Swanson used the Betsey as his ‘floating manse’ so that he was still able to serve his parishioners. The cruise was to visit Tobermory, Eigg, Rum, Glenelg and Isle Ornsay on Skye. Miller’s accounts record much about the social circumstances they came across as well as detailed descriptions of the geology, palaeontology and landscapes encountered. During the Cruise of the Betsey, Miller made many ground-breaking scientific discoveries. He wrote about his journey on the Betsey, and other travels through Scotland.
I've been working with colleagues from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society on a website and other elements to accompany a range of teaching materials which will be developed and piloted through the next few months, and the website to support the journey has just gone live.


Here's the background to the project:

Follow our journey, and celebrate the life and achievements of a great Scot, a great scientist and a remarkable observer of the social history of the time. Hugh Miller, of Cromarty, recorded his voyage of discovery on the Betsey, around the Inner Hebrides, in the summer of 1844. Our journey will recreate this 170 years later with a crew of geologists, writers, musicians, geographers and other talented people. Join us on our journey!
6th – 12th September 2014

I was invited along on the voyage, but will be teaching at the time. I'm going to be involved in other ways. One of them is to produce mapping, such as the Story Map below:

  and the map of the voyage:
View larger map

Plenty more to come once the 'Leader' casts off...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Get lost....


"With every additional technology that assists in exploring the physical world around us, we are losing our sense of direction and ability to navigate without them."

A good piece by Curtis Silver on mapping and how digital tools and apps might be leading us to lose some of our instinctive navigational skills, particularly for younger generations who perhaps never grew up handling paper maps in the same way as older generations.
It's an interesting geographical / spatial take on the idea of digital natives / immigrants.
It quotes John Kennedy who says that learning to read a map to follow a journey is important in developing a range of elements which are also important to the development of our brains and the way they work:
  • Shape recognition: critical to forming thoughts
  • Direction and orientation: relate to our ability to orient ourselves and the intrinsic ability to know when we are moving away or toward something, (some feel this is critical to moral decision making as well).
  • Analysis and Synthesis: analysis of environmental factors, distance, timing, safety and synthesis, which is pulling these together for seeking a relevant or most appropriate/safe path.
  • Working memory: as we learn to navigate our environment and pull in all the other factors (mental connections) our memory builds until we can find our way automatically (it becomes a zombie system) allowing us the ability to enjoy the environment instead of looking at a screen.
There are some interesting ideas relating to how students would cope if they found themselves somewhere quite close to where they lived, but then had to find their way home. Would they know which way to go ? What are the dangers of relying on technology ?
Gave me some ideas for how this might fit into a landscape unit.
Well worth reading...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Serious GIS

A great new site from Garry Simmons, who has really taken ArcGIS and explored what it can do in the Geography classroom. He's also shared what he can do in a number of places, but now has the Serious GIS website, where materials will be appearing over the year ahead.

You may wish to read about a regional CPD day in October that Garry is organising with Jason Sawle of ESRI. Details here (PDF download) 



At £25 for the day that looks like a bit of a bargain !!

Journey to the Centre of Google Earth...

Via @olimould on Twitter, a link to an article by Simon Sellars (@ballardian ) on Google Earth.

The article also links to a range of Google Earth projects.

Clement Valla's Postcards from Google Earth

The Nine Eyes of Google Street View

Some interesting points made about the nature of Google Earth, and some implications of the capturing of places at moments in time...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Learn ArcGIS

A brand new site for ESRI ArcGIS products.
Looks great - and has ideas and information for those wanting to develop their GIS skills.

Don't forget to get the ArcGIS Explorer App too if you have a Mac with the latest OS X version....


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Crime statistics

For those of you who might be using the POLICE.UK website to explore crime statistics, here's a useful interactive from the Office for National Statistics.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

New ArcGIS Online features

A load of new features have been released for use by those who subscribe to (or use) ArcGIS Online.
Check out the summary here on the ArcGIS Blog.

The first of these is the ArcGIS StoryMap Journal App, which I shall write a separate blog post to describe. This is one of my (many) summer holiday projects.


Check the ArcGIS Blog for the details on the new release for July.


There's a LIVING ATLAS OF THE WORLD web app.

There's also the USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer 

The ESRI Collector App is also improved.
Check this Joseph Kerski video which shows how he used it to collect data in the field on a smartphone.


There's also a new Explorer app for iPad

Add in a range of new analysis tools and other bits and there's plenty to get excited about....
If only I had a long holiday ahead to get to grips with it all...

New QGIS resources - available to trial - feedback welcome

A few months ago, I had a conversation with Charlotte Graves, who is developing some teaching materials and approaches for QGIS (a free Open-source GIS package)

The materials are now available to use and trial. Details are available HERE.

There is a questionnaire connected to the trial, which will help Charlotte to create further materials, and those which are of as much relevance as possible. This was part of her research, as she explains here:

The aim of my research was to create a plugin for QGIS that would encourage and support the use of GIS in schools at minimum cost and with as much ease as possible.

I am now in the final stages of my dissertation and the QGISforSchools plugin is ready for testing. 

It takes the form of a QGIS plugin that provides 3 units (on Population & Development, Tourism and Earthquakes) that provides a student (or teacher) who is new to GIS with a step-by-step introduction to the software. The intention is that the software is simply used to explore the Geographical topic, rather than to teach the user how to use the software on his/her own.

I would be very grateful if you could spare some time to test the plugin and provide some feedback for my dissertation, and to inform the future development of the plugin.

The steps for testing the plugin can be found at the link above.

Charlotte has also provided a useful list of suggested resources for those who want to explore GIS in more detail.

Monday, June 23, 2014

DataShine

DataShine is another opportunity to access data from the Census 2011.
There are some good opportunities for filtering and displaying the data in various ways.


Thanks to Oliver O'Brien for the lead to DATASHINE. This map below, for example, focusses on properties that are usually empty.
This is Windermere in the Lake District, and the red colour tells you that the houses are mostly empty, which means that they are second properties. What impact does this have on those communities ?
Which other areas have lots of red properties ?

This would fit nicely with the enquiry in Chapter 10 of my book 'Fieldwork through Enquiry'.



You could also use it to create mystery type questions. E.g. which religion is shown in red in these cities ?


Use the tool or your knowledge of the Midlands to find out the answer...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

FieldTrip GB


One of the questions that I had at the recent courses was on the use of fieldtrip apps.
I've had the app on my phone for a while but hadn't explored it, but was prompted to take another look by the question, but also by the work that I saw from Sevenoaks and other schools, who were starting to use it.

The app itself is created by EDINA, who have also created Digimap for Schools.
I wrote the Secondary teaching materials to go alongside the Digimap for Schools platform, and also for their MapStream service (OS maps streamed into a GIS client like QGIS) and am about to start work on the

There is a DESKTOP site to go alongside the app, which can be used to create DATA CAPTURE FORMS. These can be used on the site to capture data at specific points, which can then be exported in KML or CSV format.

I've been experimenting with this, and there are still a few areas I need to explore further to ensure that it works for me....
Here's a form I created for a trip to Sevenoaks tomorrow...



Sustainable Fish map

Another map built on ESRI's StoryMap template for ArcGIS Online (a summer project)

A Danish map providing advice on selecting and identifying sustainable fish species in various sea areas.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Doddle GIS resource

Free resource from Doddle (a Boardworks link)
ICT, GIS and Fieldwork...
Would make a good starting point for discussions - a nice sample...


'Feels like' temperature maps for the UK


View Larger Map

Another map which was shared in the last few days, created by the ESRI UK Education Team

UPDATE
Now a live humidity map too...

ArcGIS Online map of Terrestrial eco-regions...


View Larger Map

One of several new maps that I came across today .... Keep checking back for more new maps as I come across them...

Saturday, June 07, 2014

The course that wasn't...

I have an embarrassing day on Thursday when running one of the final Google Earth and Beyond courses for the GA.
The internet at the venue didn't work for the first hour and a quarter of the day, and then came and went during the day, so the course was 'cancelled' but we hung on and I ran through a condensed version of events... less time for ArcGIS Online in the afternoon, which is a pity.
Apologies once again to those who made the journey to London, and thanks to the delegates who hung on and persevered with the day for your kind feedback.

Thanks also to Catrin, who sent through one of the outcomes that she had produced following the course, based on Snowdonia, and with a series of tasks and questions with layers to turn on and off... Really nice work.