Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/GIS

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Use of Geographic Information Systems, Visualization Tools, and Online Maps[edit]

Geographic Information Systems and Mapping in the Web 2.0 Environment[edit]

Technology “Behind the Scenes”


As computing and satellite sensors have advanced in the past few decades, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS,) and Remote Sensing (RS) have vastly improved our ability to map our world and the universe. With interactive maps, mobile devices using GPS and easily downloadable spatial datasets, humans can analyze and track movements, behaviors, and choices in unprecedented ways. The world of the twenty-first century is one of extensive information and resource access and filtering; GIS, GPS, and RS are fast becoming a significant component of it. It is likely that in a decade or less, each of us will rely on such systems on at least a daily basis, if not in nearly every decision. How humans welcome, exploit, and train for such capabilities will be interesting.

This subchapter discusses the technologies that will be available in Web 2.0 environments and how these technologies can provide reliable network transmission of geographic information (GI) for determining what is occurring in the realm of the environmental issues as well as public health and safety.

As with most modern technology, the descriptive names of protocols and tools are compressed into acronyms, which provide little information and increase the gulf between technicians and practitioners. Thus, this chapter begins with explanations of the most commonly used acronyms, while letting the glossary explain uncommon acronyms that are not spelled out in the text. After wading through the alphabet soup of the technology, we examine how these protocols and tools are being used in innovative ways to deliver and use spatial data effectively. Finally, the chapter closes with the promise of the GI tools that are being developed in Web 2.0 and 3.0 (i.e., the semantic web) technologies. As we now enter this geographically rich future, an even more interesting future is emerging just in front beaconing us inside.

Background on protocols

Like all modern day technologies, acronyms appear to be the mainstay of those behind Web 2.0 technology and our ability to access geospatial data. Before considering the geographic data transmission, we will examine some protocols and processes behind Web 2.0 technologies as well as the three most common acronyms that surfaced during research for this chapter.

The first, XML or Extensible Markup Language, provides a language that allows structured data sharing between diverse information systems, especially sharing across the Internet. In addition, XML allows developers to define formatting tags as they deem necessary. A second acronym, Simple Object Access Protocol (i.e., SOAP), stands for an XML protocol that transfers minimal amounts of code via HTTP – the common Web transfer protocol. The third acronym, Ajax or AJAX, stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Ajax is used to develop interactive and responsive Web applications, which allows a single Web page to asynchronously send and receive responses to multiple XML requests that dynamically update the page’s content. Ajax is a method that allows minimal data exchange with servers and does not require the page to be completely redrawn each time a user changes her request.

As seen in the next section, developers are consistently attempting to increase the speed of delivery of Web 2.0 applications. Speed and interoperability is important in the exchange of large geospatial data sets and leads to another set of acronyms associated with GIS.

Background on Geographic Information and Web 2.0 technology

The International Standards Organization Technical Committee (ISO/TC211) oversees the minute engineering and technical details of sharing GI data (Aydin, 2007). However, for the majority of developers and technicians, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC, formerly known as the Open GIS Consortium) works on GIS industry standards. OGC is an open source group that is attempting to design workable standards, disseminate information, and increase interoperability between all GI interest groups. The OGC has undertaken of multi-phase OGC Web Services (OWS) initiative to specify and standardize geospatial Web services and architecture that support the development of Web location based services (LBS) and geoprocessing applications. This open source group has already set standards for OpenGIS Geography Markup Language (GML) for vector geographic data and numerous Web services: Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), and Web Coverage Service (WCS).

Aydin (2007) provided critical suggestions for how Open GIS standards can be improved so that the schema of GML, some data models and data exchange is less complicated and more efficient. He also recommended that the standards be fully articulated and clear. Thus, he indicated that some of the standards found on the OGC website were not as easily implemented as indicated by the easy downloads of the standards [opengeospatial.org/standards website ]. Of course, it is ease of download combined with ease of use that will foster increased understanding and use.

Cha, Hwang, Chang, Kim, and Lee (2007) examined both the client and server sides of the delivery times of three varieties of SOAP: (1) the standard SOAP; (2) SwA/MIME (SOAP with Ajax/Multimedia Internet Message Extensions); and (3) SOAP/MTOM (Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism). Cha et al. found that the latter was the fastest overall, probably because it used a protocol known as XOP (XML-binary Optimized Packaging).

GI Applications and use of Web 2.0 technologies

Gratsias, Frentzos, Delis, and Theodoridis (2005) classified LBSs according to whether or not the client (which they term the query object) and the data that the client attempted to access were either stationary or moving. If one or both of the two were moving, which represents three out of the four possible categories, they proposed using a “find me” service. These researchers also classified “find the nearest,” “guide me,” “get-together,” and routing services. A trajectory service predicts where the client or data object will be located in the future. These researchers concluded that some of these classes or types were covered in existing structures, but some – particularly the trajectory type – have created challenges in how that data is stored, queried and indexed.

Castelli, Rosi, Mamei, and Zambonelli (2007) examined how context-aware services can be integrated and delivered with information from RFID tags or network sensors to an individual’s mobile device. Their simple W4 model (“who, what, where and when”) was designed to allow the individual to send their information to the network and determine if it will be published to other individuals in their immediate surroundings. In addition, the individual has the capability of determine the type of data and information they receive about their surroundings. The authors described a scenario where the individual could keep a digital journal of his/her trip by having a GPS device running context-aware services and connecting with RFID tags that are planned (or are already installed) at most national monuments and international tourism sites. Such tourist and outdoor education sites are a natural fit for these services. They will likely be standard for finding information in history when people explore parks, waterways, museums, monuments, and various exhibits. Educational possibilities are endless, but first, issues related to standards, information tagging, data storage and update, costs, speed, time, familiarity, and access must be addressed.

In a recent OGC white paper, Reed (2006) proposed a tagging (or geo-enabling) standard using GeoRSS (Really Simple Syndication). The GeoRSS feeds would encode and associate location information with web content. Though the examples focused on people placing themselves or their activities on a map, the GeoRSS might work well for network-enabled sensors to report back information that is identified by location.

A similar “sensor web” of network-enabled environmental sensors was described in another OGC white paper by Botts, Percivall, Reed, and Davidson (2006). These researchers suggested that such a web could bring together distributed sensors that record a wide variety of environmental and safety information and make that data available for the internet. The OGC project, called "Sensor Web Enablement" (SWE), proposed that OGC members create a new infrastructure that uses open standards for exploiting sensors that are already connected to the Internet. They suggested that members might use network-enabled sensors that included “flood gauges, air pollution monitors, stress gauges on bridges, mobile heart monitors, Webcams, satellite-borne earth imaging devices and countless other sensors and sensor systems” (Botts et al., p. 4). The proposed SWE framework would be comprised of a number of other data and service specifications, including Sensor Model Language (SensorML).

In his Master's thesis proposal, Lu (2003) outlined the potential to connect various environmental sensors – from pH meters to rain gauges – to the Internet using CMOS communication devices. Thus, networks of environmental sensors in remote or harsh locations could monitor the health of the global environment and send out alerts when conditions moved outside an acceptable range.

Nickerson and Lu (2004) developed the Sensor Web Language (SWL) to extend OGC’s SensorML by simplifying the language to allow for connection to, and transfer information over, low-powered wireless sensor networks. They reported that SWL could communicate with servers, Web browsers, gateways, and sensors. Adding new or recalibrated sensors on the network only required a recompilation of the SWL code. Their prototype system has not yet been tested under the environmental conditions for which these low-powered wireless networked sensors were designed. As a next step in their research, they will test a system of 19 sensors that monitor a freshwater bog.

Scientists at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center demonstrated that open source code could be used to integrate information from environmental sensors, including satellite imaging sensors. Their research represented the second pilot study of a decision support system called DISPRO, which was designed to monitor water quality along the coasts of several European countries. The researchers used three-tiered architecture (i.e., client, middleware, data layer) and OGC open source coding to integrate and disseminate information from such disparate sources as satellite sensors, ocean circulation models, and in situ monitors such as the ferrybox sensor. This low-cost version of DISPRO was able to analyze the data to predict dangerous water quality conditions, such as algal blooms. In addition, the client end only required a web browser. Thus, these authors felt that DISPRO would be an inexpensive and effective tool for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) organization (Hamre, Sandven,& Tuama, 2005).

In another GIS study that used a client-side web browser, Chinese researchers were interested in an inexpensive and efficient means of providing spatial data about the forests of China to those who have little ability to access the information. In 2007, Li, et al. demonstrated that sustainable forest management decisions could be made using available OGC-compliant open source GIS code, inexpensive hardware and web-based map services. They used a scalable, four-tiered framework of client layer, web layer, application layer and “back end” or database layer. With the open source software, they built a client web interface that was effectively and easily queried.

Environmental issues are keenly on people’s minds as disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2007 wildfires in California are analyzed from web browsers. For example, if someone searches on “California wildfires” into Google maps, the system calls up a series of satellite images with the fires pinpointed. Many people are using Google Earth and other “earth browsers” to examine the globe from space. These systems use XML file types known as Keyhole Markup Language (KML) that allow for three-dimensional display of geo-referenced data (i.e., data associated with spatial coordinates). Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) are bringing people together to make decisions about the locations where they live and work. The social networking and decision-making ability of such systems has not only increased citizen’s awareness of their environment, they have also come together to discuss public health and safety.

In the realm of health care and GI, Boulos and Wheeler (2007) discussed mapping mashups that use RSS or tagged feeds to locate events on an interactive map. These researchers gave the example of HEALTHmap, which is a world-wide disease-monitoring web-based map. Other common social networking tools were identified as helpful for communicated health messages and interacting with the public, but the authors were clear that miscommunication in an unmonitored environment was a real danger.

In an editorial that reviewed social networking technologies in health and medicine, Giustini (2006) suggested that Web 2.0 technologies were changing the face of the industry. He promoted a blog called “Clinical Cases and Images,” in which the blogger has relevant information that has been verified by medical librarian bloggers. Additionally, he discussed the use of RSS feeds for doctors to receive up-to-date content and suggested that medical wikis might be a good way for doctors to communicate with one another. He also stated that, “The notion of a medical Wikipedia – freely accessible and continually updated by doctors – is worthy of further exploration” (Giustini, p. 1284). In addition, he warned that inflexibility in the light of these new – and freely available – social networking tools may lead to obsolescence of many traditional medical systems and practices.

Web 3.0 and GI

It is always critical to discuss next steps in any chapter, but, in particular, one wherein the technologies are still evolving. For instance, Boulos and Wheeler (2007) discussed the future of the Web 3.0, which is also known as the semantic Web. These authors explained that Web 3.0 technologies will add encoded meta data that can be read by computers to improve the human-computer interface (HCI) by allowing computing devices to identify the intention of the content as it is being processed. Thus, users will be more in control of how information is organized and presented. Combined with sensor webs and context-aware services, Web 3.0 can revolutionize fields such as environmental science and tourism. Thus, users can “browse” the world in a highly interactive and intelligent manner.

There are many directions for geographic information systems and other visualization tools in helping users in myriad settings from medical to educational to recreational. Creating, documenting, and using such devices and services will definitely bring about a wave of change for how human live, work, and learn.


Aydin, G. (2007). An overview of the Open Geospatial Consortium standards and their use in Community Grids Laboratory. Technical Report February 23, 2007. Retrieved October 13, 2007, from http://grids.ucs.indiana.edu/ptliupages/publications/galip-ogc-report.doc

Boulos, M. N. K., & Wheeler, S. (2007). Web 2.0 in health and health care education. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 24, 2-23.

Castelli, G., Rosi, A., Mamei, M., & Zambonelli, F. (2007). A simple model and infrastructure for context-aware browsing of the world. PerCom'07. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications. Retrieved September 28, 2007, from http://csdl.computer.org/dl/proceedings/percom/2007/2787/00/27870229.pdf

Cha, S.-J., Hwang, Y.-Y., Chang, Y.-S., Kim, K.-O., & Lee, K.-C. (2007). Integrating Ajax into GIS web services for performance enhancement. In Y. Shi, et al. (Eds.), ICCS 2007, Part II. (562–568). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

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Giustini, D. (2006). How Web 2.0 is changing medicine. British Medical Journal, 333, 1283-1284. Retrieved October 14, 2007, from http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7582/1283

Hamre T., Sandven S. and Tuama E. O. (2005). DISMAR: Data integration system for marine pollution and water quality. 31st International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment. St. Petersburg, Russia.

Li, S.M., Saborowski, J., Nieschulze, J., Li, Z.-Y., Lu, Y.-C., & Chen, E.-R. (2007). Web service based spatial forest information system using an open source software approach. Journal of Forestry Research, 18(2), 85-90.

Lu, J. (2003). Software Architecture for Environmental Sensor Webs. Thesis proposal for MCS pegree program, University of New Brunswick. Retrieved October 18, 2007, from http://web.archive.org/web/20070310183814/http://www.cs.unb.ca/research-groups/geoidesw/PDFs/jingProposal.pdf

Nickerson, B. G., & Lu, J. (2004). A language for wireless sensor webs. Proceedings of the Second Annual Conference on Communication Networks and Services Research. Retrieved October 17, 2007, from http://csdl.computer.org/dl/proceedings/cnsr/2004/2096/00/20960293.pdf

Geographic Information Systems and Mapping in the Web 2.0 Environment

Cheng-hong Liao

Institute of Education

The Program of Learning Technology

National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan


In Taiwan, most people are very unfamiliar with GIS (Geographic Information System) this term. If you have accessed site or location on the Internet, obtained the necessary information through the electronic map on a computer - commonly known as e-map, can you believe that you already have been a GIS users? Regardless of when and where, people have been immediately access to the necessary geospatial information in the critical moment through the Internet, wireless communications, notebook or handheld computer. For example : Where is the most closed pharmacy? Which section is traffic congestion? How to change the way to go? How to arrange for the most cost-effective delivery route? All of these are highly efficient application of GIS.

The definition of GIS

The full name of GIS is Geographic Information System, a complete set of GIS operating system have huge information space, it can not only to show the electronic maps, but also has a detailed information to prepare for inquiries, and let people to operate, overlap, reorganize, isolate, analysis any kind of space information clearly on the computer screen. They can see all of their living environment and surrounding on GIS. GIS is a new technology, which involves covering the academic basis of the map, computer and information science, geography, surveying, remote sensing, mathematics, statistics and commercial data processing. In the application, can be broadly classified into six types: Location Inquiries: Such as "Where is the most closed McDonald?" Condition Inquiries: Such as "How many kinestone book stores in Taipei city?" Trend to explore: "How about Taiwan's cities and counties with population growth trends in distribution in the past 20 years?" The best Routing arrangement: The most efficient inter obtained two points, such as Express daily delivery service at the most economical way. Model analysis (Pattern): The best choice of garbage burial site assessment, the relationship between wildlife habitat activities and the scope. The predictability of the virtual model (Modeling): Such as oil spills, where does the pollution spread to in 24 hours, 48 hours or even a week later?

GIS and Web2.0

GIS only can operating unilateral in Web1.0 era, users connected to the mainframe through the Internet, they receiveed the information on the Internet provided by host, they can not choosing the information they need,but only received information unilateral; However, in Web2.0 era, such a situation was totally changed, users can choosing the information they need filful on the Internet, interacted with host through the website, got the information simply and quickly, they were no longer restricted in one-way sourced of information by the host, it was the biggest changes and applications of GIS after Web2.0 era.

GIS and the theme maps

From the above, we can see the "inquiry" is just the most basic GIS function, high-level analysis application is the major function of GIS, it plays an vary important role in GIS. The kind of spatial analysis often through the "topic map" (thematic maps) overlapping to reached. Whatever you can think about, like people, things, places, any single topic information can be visual, with a map to show that the phenomenon of inter-entity or distribution. Such a unit map caused by investigating the same type of information, it called the topic map. Unlike traditional paper maps, GIS maps separates two functions "Information display" and "Information Storage" from paper map : different topics such like topography, land use, vegetation, roads all are stored separately; by the help of GIS, you can not only circle area but also make up the topic maps, you can see the electronic map displayed again that is transferred from paper maps. Because of GIS with the characteristic to let people to "see" the information what he want to see, and to identify a clear visual effect, which is impossible for traditional paper map absolutely. Over the past 20 years, computer mapping technology advancing by leaps and bounds, statistical data together with the existing map, field observation, aerial photography, satellite images and telemetry records for the application of geographic information analysis, the development could provide unlimited space. Today, as number plate, street, population density, school district, crime rate, hotel restaurant distribution all can be made up to a digital theme map individually. These single topic maps greatly increase the flexibility of application of geographic analysis. Through operating GIS, you can update information at any time, increasing or screening theme arbitrarily, operating analysis and producing your own electronic map on the screen in a short time. More importantly, by investgating the theme of the map, you may be able to find the relationship some individual incidents. (feedback by chen-feng Lee:From preceding argumentation, a real GIS systems need based on a large and instant database. Users redraw a theme map with the information display technology according to their demand. However, how to make a large and instant database? As to idea of web2.0, It perhaps can be established through numerous web2.0 users.

Look around the world to see GIS

GIS originated in North America. In 1965, the United States showed quantitative data with statistical graphics on map, it can not only show characteristics information quickly and efficiently, but also link different parameters to do simple analysis, GIS became a infrastructure in plan of urban development and resources management. Canada started to building Canada Geographic Information System in 1966, the system is called the earliest geographic information system. In 1985, North America has more than 1,000 sets of GIS-related application system. Taiwan formally promoted GIS in 1987, and promote units including the Ministry of Economy, Council of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Department, the Directorate General of Budget, Secretary, the Construction and Phlanning Administration, the Ministry of Communication and the local government, there is not any high-level independent department at present, but also lack of national GIS Research Laboratory Center, GIS development is greatly restricted, most system still stay in initial stage. However, if GIS is just a simple electronic map , it is not a true GIS.


GIS is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. Environmental studies, geography, geology, planning, business marketing, and other disciplines have benefited from GIS tools and methods. Together with cartography, remote sensing, global positioning systems, photogrammetry, and geography, the GIS has evolved into a discipline with its own research base known as geographic information sciences. An active GIS market has resulted in lower costs and continual improvements in GIS hardware, software, and data. These developments will lead to a much wider application of the technology throughout government, business, and industry. GIS and related technology will help analyze large datasets, allowing a better understanding of terrestrial processes and human activities to improve economic vitality and environmental quality.

(feedback by Yi-Jie Chen:I was minor in geography in my university study stage, and I took the introduction to GIS course at fourth grades. At that course, I used GIS software to analyze the amusement parks in Taiwan for my final report. I think GIS is really important for our daily life. In the era of web 2.0, such as google earth and GPS navigation system in our vehicle, are all in connection with GIS. Maybe in the future, we will got the destination more easily and will not got lost anymore.)


Chou, Yue-Hong,1997, Exploring spatial analysis in Geographic Information Systems, Onword: Santa Fe. David Ebdon, 1977, Statistics in geography: a practical approach, Oxford: B. blackwell.

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John Silk, 1979, Statistical concepts in geography, London; Boston: Allen and Unwin

A picture is worth a thousand words - Incorporating the Capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into the Web 2.0 Learning Environment[edit]

A picture is worth a thousand words - Incorporating the Capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into the Web 2.0 Learning Environment

People love maps and pictures! Where things happen is just as important as when and why they happen. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allow for the display of information in a space and time format. Enabling GIS features to interact with Wiki's, Blogs, Web Pages, and other Web 2.0 functions greatly increases the scope and depth of the Web 2.0 learning experience and allows patterns and trends that may otherwise not have been apparent to emerge. GIS is an integral part of life, and students are very familiar with the concepts. Students use GPS navigation systems in their cars and computer aided mapping programs like Google Maps on a regular basis. Extending GIS functionality into the classroom is a logical step, and will greatly enhance any learning environment. This chapter will outline the functions and capabilities of GIS systems and demonstrate how to incorporate GIS functionality into your Web 2.0 learning experience. Wiki maps, Google Mash-ups, and other tools that incorporate GIS into the collaborative learning environment of Web 2.0 will be explored.

So what exactly does GIS offer to the education community? Well, for starters, GIS is more than just an electronic map, it is more than just a neat, flashy picture. For example the picture shown here is an aerial photo taken from the website {http://maps.live.com/ Microsoft Local Live] The image is of my hometown, Monterey, VA. Many people would consider this a use of GIS, but it is not! It’s just a picture. GIS is much more, GIS offers the ability to geographically and temporally display and analyze data or information, and in doing so, trends, patterns and insights that are not readily identifiable become apparent. Here is a simple example taken from the website of the City of Spokane, WA, that shows the level of crime reported throughout the city. Using the GIS tools you could display different time periods, different types of crimes, and their location in relation to various neighborhoods, addresses, and landmarks, making it extremely easy to see what neighborhoods to avoid, and when to avoid them! Using GIS software you could also incorporate other characteristics such as age, income, and population density, for further research and analysis. Given these few examples, it is clear that the possibilities are endless.

GIS is certainly not a new tool; in fact, it been around in one form or another for a very long time, and doesn’t even require computers. One of the earliest examples of GIS that I remember being introduced to was during an elementary school field trip to my local volunteer fire department. Displayed on the wall of the fire station was a large map of the town. Underneath the map was a listing of all the streets in the town, with a switch next to each. When the switch was flicked, small lights on the map would illuminate the location of that particular street. In 1972, this was cutting edge technology, as far as a second grader was concerned. We have certainly come a long way since then. Now, when a person calls 911 from their home phone, the operator instantly can display on a map exactly where that call came from. If they call from a cell phone, the operator can get a close fix on the position based on the signal strength and proximity to cell towers.

So how does this all apply to, learning? Well GIS is firmly enmeshed into the Web 2.0 learning environment. Wiki maps, “Mash-Ups”, Geo-caching, and other integrated GIS Web services all offer unlimited possibilities for education and learning, and the technology is growing at an incredible pace.

So, what’s a wiki map? A wiki map is a website that contains a map that is usually editable by just about anyone. A user can go into the wiki map, and add information about geographic places and features that they find relevant. This information might include images, web links, and comments. They can also edit the entries of others, and add comments. Here is an example of a wiki map from wikimapia. I created an entry for the apartment complex that I live in, Barclay Square Apartments, and added a few comments, click on the link and add a comment letting me know you visited. While in the wiki, I also took the time to check out a few of the retail establishments that people had created entries for in my neighborhood, as well as Bloomington South High School.

The beauty of wiki maps is that it easily brings the versatility and functionality of a complex GIS system right to the desktop. Users do not need any special software or training. How might this be used in Education? Well, one way would be to have students create entries about historical locations, and then share them with others and encourage feedback and comment. For example, students in an American History class might create entries for the major battles of the Civil War or strategic locations at different dates. The entries might include biographical information on the generals involved, actual descriptions of the battle, images, and web links to historical articles and information on the site. Students could publish these entries and the edit entries of others while working in collaboration with students from schools all over the country.

"Mash-ups” are similar to Wiki maps, with the exception that they usually don’t allow editing by the general public. Mash-ups are also not as user friendly, requiring a small amount of programming knowledge to create, and a server to host them. Unless you love comedy and teach goegraphy, here is an example of an arguably, useless, Mash-up titled, “The Geography of Seinfeld" “Mash-ups” might be used in education in a fashion similar as wiki maps, with the main difference being the restricted editing capabilities “inherent with mash-ups” Here is an example of a more educational nature, a mash-up that plots the day to day travels of elephants in Africa, complete with photos and blog entries.

Tracking elephants in Africa sounds complicated and exotic, but the technology is involved is actually relatively simple. A more mundane high school science project might involve attaching GPS tracking devices to local wildlife, and then plotting and analyzing the day-to-day travels and activities. Here is a story about how a group of high school students in Cle Elum, Washington teamed up with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to track and analyze the migratory habits of cougars in the Cascade Mountains.

Another example of using GIS and GPS enabled tracking devices involves a high school in Mississippi that undertook a project to improve local school bus service. By carefully analyzing the routes and schedules of the buses, and comparing them with the actual travels, as recorded on GPS transceivers, improvements in both time and fuel costs were realized. Projects like these allow students to combine various subjects and incorporate problem solving and analytical skills into the traditional classroom environment.

Another interesting educational activity that Web 2.0 integration with GIS allows is Geo-Caching. Geo-caching is an activity in which a “cache” location is described, usually on an interactive website, and the participant goes out into the real world and attempts to locate that “cache.” Within the cache, will usually be a small item or token which the participant who finds it exchanges for one of his own. The location description may be given in GPS coordinates, or it may be a series of clues and problems that the participant must figure out. The participant often leaves comments on the interactive web site about the adventures he encountered while searching for the cache.

There are myriad higher order thinking skills involved in a geo-caching experience. For instance, geo-caching applications for education and learning include the use of coordinates and map reading as well as problem solving skills. Geo-caching can also be used in conjunction with other subjects such as science and history, to provide for a modern day scavenger hunt. Caches could be established at various areas in a state park or wildlife area that highlight scientific or historical subjects that students are learning about. For example if you wanted to teach about the ecology of wild cranberry bogs, you might locate caches in and around an actual bog. Another added benefit of geo-caching is that it gets students physically active. Rather than sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures, the students are outside, leaning and exploring. Which might you remember more, a lecture and slide show about bogs, or the experience of actually traipsing though the mud and muck of one?

The final application I wish to mention is the incorporation of GIS display tools into Websites and Blogs. With very little difficulty, a map can be added that displays where everyone who visits the Blog or website is coming from. Why is this so important in education? As I stated previously, a picture is worth a thousand words. It is one thing to say that Borat is reading your Blog from the far of land of Kazakhstan, but how many people really know where Kazakhstan is? (In case you are wondering, click HERE)Even if the educational subject you are teaching has nothing to do with Geography, exposing your students to the locations of various names and places within the world cannot help but enrich their lives. Here is an example from my own R685 class blog I have no idea why anyone from California, Taiwan, or Australia is reading my Blog, but at least I know where they are. Here is another example, but this time, the blog is incorporated into the map. This blogger not only posts his random thoughts, but has his blog configured to show his location as well. This technology could also be used in live chat rooms. Not only would you know what your classmates are saying you would know where they were saying it from. The social networking site Meetro is a good example of this.

This chapter has touched on just a few of a plethora of possibilities that Web 2.0 and GIS offer the education community. What impresses me the most is the ease with which GIS can be incorporated into Web 2.0? For too many years, the realm of GIS has been shrouded in mystery. The software and applications were very complex, and finding people who actually knew how to use if effectively was extremely difficult. The Web 2.0 changes all of that. GIS can be incorporated and mastered by even the most novice user. Many of the applications are open source, allowing more even more flexibility and innovation. It is a fast and ever changing world out there, but with GIS and Web 2.0, we can always keep better track of it and share what we learn with others! Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to GIS we go!


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