GIS software will open new worlds
to Alaska teachers and students
Elementary and secondary classrooms across Alaska now have access to geographic information system technology, thanks to a partnership between the University of Alaska Geography Program, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, and Esri, a leading software development company.
Students, educators and administrators in all of Alaska's primary and secondary schools will be able to use Esri's full range of ArcGIS software, plus gain unlimited seats in self-paced training through Esri's Virtual Campus.
"Many instructors are currently teaching GIS in the classroom, and others are using it to augment their science and geography curricula," said Katie Kennedy, education and outreach coordinator for UAGP. "However, we believe that the technology has the potential to change the way students and their teachers fundamentally approach a topic, and we intend to introduce it throughout the state as a hands-on tool that supports inquiry-based learning."
The site license provides an opportunity for K-12 teachers to incorporate GIS into their classes across the curriculum, from geography to history, language arts and math. GIS software not only allows users to visualize spatial data, but also to analyze it, helping make complex concepts clear and understandable. For this reason, teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects are quick to take advantage of the power of GIS. Some teachers attending the 2011 Alaska Math and Science Conference in Fairbanks Sept. 24-26 will have a chance to gain hands-on experience with GIS software.
School districts can also utilize the Esri software for administrative purposes, such as bus routing. School districts will be able to better manage their facilities, safety planning and implementation, capture and analyze demographic data and more, all with the software available through the Esri Statewide K-12 license.
“I am proud of UAF’s role in forming this powerful partnership with Esri and EED,” noted UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers. “This initiative will serve educators and students throughout our state and I view this initiative as a critical step forward in linking UAF, private industry and educators to better prepare Alaskans for the future.”
“This partnership boosts Alaska students’ opportunities to engage in hands-on, problem-solving learning,” said Alaska Education Commissioner Mike Hanley. “This is the sort of learning that keeps students in school and prepares them for college and careers.”
“The Esri software provides opportunities for rural teachers to utilize technology in real-world activities,” said Roxanne Mourant, Alaska educational technology coordinator. “GIS is a growing technology popular in numerous industries that is accessible to remote areas of Alaska that may not have cell phones or Internet, but can pick up the GIS satellite signals.”
Teachers may visit here to request the software and find resources for using GIS in the classroom.