Monday, October 31, 2011

It keeps on coming!

Left image: Bridge over the Derwent River, Hobart, Tasmania.
Right image: Perth across the Swan River, Western Australia.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

It keeps on coming! Platforms, data and curriculum materials for using GIS in the classroom

Increasingly GIS platforms, data and curriculum materials are becoming available to support the use of GIS in the classroom. Some of the following are free on the Internet or available from Geography Teachers’ Associations in Australia for very reasonable prices to support teachers in introducing practical applications of GIS in the classroom. Add recent Spatialworlds postings on Spatial Genie and Arc GIS-online, it is becoming obvious that it is not due to lack or cost of software, data or teaching materials why GIS is not used widely in our schools. As resources and platforms keep coming available for teachers, it seems that the only thing holding back universal implementation of GIS classrooms across Australia is the need for professional learning to build teacher capacity to use this amazing software. This will be the task for us over coming years I am sure.

* Quantum GIS (QGIS)

I have been increasingly hearing about this free GIS platform - it is worth a look for thsoe interested in looking around for a free GIS software option to meet their needs. Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a powerful and user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) that runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, and Windows. QGIS supports vector, raster, and database formats. QGIS is licensed under the GNU Public License.
The current version of QGIS 1.7.1 was released on 29 September 2011 and is available on Windows, MacOS X and Linux. Quantum GIS is open source software. For testing and learning purpose, a sample dataset is provided which contains collections of data from different sources and in different formats.

* Madmappers

Madmappers is a South African site that allows GIS users of ESRI or QGIS to download topographic sheets in MrSid (multiresolution seamless image database) format. For ArcView 3.x users you can set your extensions in properties to read MrSid format. The benefit of this format is that you could attach a number of topographic sheets seamlessly and make up a map that covers areas in different graticules. You can print a topographic map with a 1:50 000 scale with grid lines and grid squares. Maps could be printed on A4 or A3 paper. If you print them on A3 paper you can add other images along with the map e.g. street view images from Google that show features on the map as well as the conventional symbols. The map can be exported in jpeg format and inserted into PowerPoint presentations.
QGIS users can add a plugin to read MrSid maps. The benefit is that these maps are available free on the net.

* GTASA’s “Taking GIS to the classroom resource”

The Geography Teachers Association of South Australia (GTASA) has recently launched a new resource to work with GIS in the classroom. The book is called "Taking GIS to the classroom", written by Ross Johnson, and is available from the GTASA ($35 for members and $85 for non-members). The resource is ideal for teacher and student use as an attractive and easy to use reference resource to learn about geographic information systems!! Data and learning videos are supplied on a CD with the book! Topics covered in the book include: GIS terms and tools, creating a map of your local area, creating your own geographic areas, thematic maps, creating buffers, using GIS to analyse, data use and dot density maps. Contact the CEASA office to purchase a copy.

* AGTA’s “21st Century Geography” GIS resource
The 21st Century DVD contains outstanding collection of teaching resources, including spatial technologies/GIS units. The DVD contains articles and resources on 21st century Geography and the following books on using GIS in the classroom:
* GIS skills development course
* Using GIS in Physical Geography
* Historical GIS
These books come with course process and activities chapters supported by free GIS data. To order a copy for $95 just go to the AGTA site.

* GTASA’s “GIS in the Field” book

This resource was designed to provide practical classroom application of GIS. Although the book is written for ESRI ArcView 3, the processes, data and activities can be translated to other software programs and has been a very important product in Australia for the meaningful and achievable use of GIS in the classroom.
Content of the “GIS in the Field” book includes
• Introduction to using GIS in the classroom.
• The basics of ESRI ArcView GIS.
• Getting started with ArcView GIS: Thematic mapping.
• Skate park location.
• Pest plant location.
• Bushfire application.
• Real Estate application.
• Streetscape application.
• Wasp nest application.
• Environmental management: revegetation.
Contact the CEASA office at to purchase a copy of this resource.

Not GIS but something of interest to those wanting students to understand and analyse data visualisations. TinkerPlots software is designed to get students in grades 4-8 excited about what they can learn from data. Students can analyze data by creating colourful visual representations that will help them make sense out of real data and recognize patterns as they unfold. TinkerPlots can be previewed for a 20 minute sessions with print, save, copy, and paste disabled. You will need to purchase a license to unlock the full feature set!

* Great population personalisation and visualisations from the BBC
The world's population is expected to hit seven billion in the next few weeks. After growing very slowly for most of human history, the number of people on Earth has more than doubled in the last 50 years. Where do you fit into this story of human life? Fill in your date of birth below to find out.

* Nothing to do with GIS but … A video showing the debris from the Japan tsunami heading to Hawaii – amazing ocean currents

* Dam blown up to allow river to flow naturally again. Brilliant time lapse and has links to prior videos for this river.

* Historical Geograp - Everest not highest mountain!!!! ...and Sea-view Hill at 6,500’ was the highest point in Australia. Some great old Victorian visualisations to look at.

* Earth observation site from NASA: Global Maps
NASA satellites give us a global view of what’s happening on our planet. Earth’s climate system change from month to month, click on the maps on the site.

* Browse the fantastic images from the NASA Earth Observatory site

Friday, October 21, 2011

A spatial-centric view of the Australian Curriculum: Geography

Left image:.Sydney CBD.
Right image: On the tarmac, Sydney.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Hobart, Australia: S: 42º 50' E: 147º 20'

Draft Australian Curriculum: Geography goes up for consultation

Last night, the draft Australian Curriculum: Geography scope and sequence went live for public consultation on the ACARA Curriculum portal. After months of working on the aims, rationale, content, skills and achievement standards, we finally have a curriculum available for everyone in Australia to comment on – not just those targeted few in the form of the writers, advisors, geography associations and jurisdictions. Such selected input is the only way to go during the frantic stages of development, but now it is time to hear from everyone interested. The purpose of this Spatialworlds posting is to have a selected glance with an eye on the spatial. Such a spatial-centric look does not devalue all the other components of the curriculum but it is an attempt to identify the extent and quality of the reference to spatial thinking and the promotion of the use and application of spatial technology. What would one expect from this blog?

* Spatial orientated excerpts from the Rationale

“Geography is a structured way of exploring, analysing and explaining the characteristics of the places that make up our world, through perspectives based on the concepts of place, space and environment. Students of geography investigate the effects of location and distance on the characteristics of places, the consequences of the interconnections between places, the significance of spatial distributions, and the management of the space that is the surface of the earth.
Fieldwork, the mapping and interpretation of spatial distributions, and the use of spatial technologies are fundamental geographical skills. Through their inquiries students also develop a wide range of general skills and capabilities, including information and communication technology (ICT) skills, an appreciation of different perspectives, an understanding of ethical principles, a capacity for teamwork and an ability to think critically and creatively. These skills and capabilities can be applied in everyday life and to a variety of careers.”

* Spatial orientated aims of the curriculum

• the ability to think geographically, based on an understanding of the concepts of place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change
• the capacity to be competent, critical and creative users of geographical inquiry methods and skills

* Inquiry and skills in a spatial context

A glance through the F-10 skills sequences described in the document for each year level shows that there is adequate reference and emphasis to the use of spatial technology, application and analysis. I am sure these will be fine-tuned and made clearer and more overt as a result of the consultation processes over coming months.

For example in the structure of the curriculum section it is said that:

“There is an emphasis on the techniques that geographers use in the field and in the classroom. Students learn to think critically about the methods used to obtain information, analyse and interpret it, in order to communicate their findings.
Key skills which are progressively developed throughout the F-12 draft Australian Curriculum: Geography include (but are not limited to) formulating a question and research action plan that is of a specific geographical nature, developing observation recording skills including diagrams such as field sketches, interpreting and developing maps, tables, photographs, satellite images, diagrams, graphs and other data, using a variety of spatial technologies and communicating with appropriate and relevant geographical vocabulary.”

* The Inquiry model outlined in the document

The place and importance of spatial technologies, applications and analysis plays a central role throughout the inquiry model forwarded in the paper i.e.

Observing and questioning: Developing questions about something that has been observed, experienced or thought about.
Planning, collecting and evaluating: Deciding how to investigate a question or find an answer to a problem, and identifying possible answers to test; collecting information from a variety of primary sources and secondary sources, such as text-based resources, statistics, images, maps, aerial photographs, satellite images, samples and objects, fieldwork, sketches, interviews, and reports; and evaluating information for reliability and bias.
Processing, analysing, interpreting and concluding: Making sense of the information gathered through textual analysis and interpretation, by processing it into maps, tables, graphs and diagrams. Identifying order, diversity, trends, patterns, anomalies, generalisations and cause and effect relationships, using quantitative and qualitative methods appropriate to the type of inquiry; and interpreting the results of this analysis and developing conclusions.
Communicating: Communicating the results of investigations using combinations of communication methods (verbal, audio, graphical, visual, mapping and text-based), which are appropriate to the subject matter, purpose and audience.
Reflecting and responding: Reflecting on the findings of the investigation and relating these findings to existing knowledge; reflecting on the process of the inquiry, and on the strengths and weaknesses of the method of investigation chosen; deciding what action is needed in response to the results of the investigation, by applying the criteria of environmental sustainability, economic costs and benefits, and social justice; and reflecting on the actions.

* Space as a key concept in the curriculum

“The concept of space, in geography, is the three-dimensional surface of the earth. … geography studies difference across space and the rich diversity of environments, peoples, cultures and economies that exist together on the surface of the earth.”

Students develop a progressively deeper understanding of the role of space by:
o investigating the spatial distribution of geographical phenomena and explaining them, often by looking for a similarity between several distributions
o learning how to evaluate the environmental, economic, social and political consequences of particular spatial distributions
o studying the influence of absolute and relative location on the characteristics of places and on people’s lives
o investigating the ways that space is structured, organised and managed by people for different purposes

* Implications for teaching, assessment and reporting
“Students’ interest in geographical learning should be stimulated by a wide variety of activities, such as field trips, interpretation of remotely sensed images …”

* Content at a glance

Foundation: Where we live
Y1: Not everywhere is the same
Y2: Links to our world
Y3 and Y4: How we live
Y5: Climate and activities
Y6: Going global
Y7. Why do people live where they do
Environmental resources: Water plus
Y8: Personal and community geographies
Y9. Biomes and food security
Navigating global connections
Y10. Global well-being
Environmental challenges and geography

* The reference to spatial in the Content and Elaborations

The F-12 content identified above is obviously of great interest to teachers and as stated on-line; the content is to be explored by developing the ability of students “to see the relationships between geographical concepts (place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change.
Naturally many in the world of spatial thinking and spatial technology would have liked to see more in the curriculum which overtly refers to the use of spatial technology and applications. As Mick La w recently commented on this blog:

“It goes without saying that I think a much stronger emphasis should be placed on spatial technologies, particularly given the role they play in the workforce today.”

I think that the references to things spatial and associated technology in the curriculum, cited in this posting, gives plenty of license for the promotion of such in the teaching and learning programs which are to be developed for the Australian Curriculum: Geography.
An enlightened view on such matters is particularly evident in the Year 10 Unit titled: Environmental challenges and Geography when it is stated that students are to be taught that:

“Spatial technologies can be employed to visualise, map and analyse the distribution, causes and possible solutions to the environmental challenge”
and as an elaboration students may:
* investigating spatial technologies used by geographers working on environmental challenges
* analysing the causes of the challenge and to develop possible, probable and preferred futures
* recognising the value of spatial technologies as a geographical tool in geographical inquiry and in a wide range of practical applications
* investigating and discussing how professional geographers use geographical tools, thinking and skills in their work.

Let’s see what the consultation, which is open to February, says on this question. Hopefully we have plenty of comments on the need to have spatial technology, applications and analysis “up front and centre” in the curriculum and that modern geography needs to explore the spatial and use all the technology and applications used in the vocational and community world of geography – as I have referred to as Spatialworlds in this blog.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The place of place in space?

Left image: Red dust, strata and vegetation, Flinders Ranges, South Australia.
Right image: Sunset across the plains, Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Hobart, Australia: S: 42º 50' E: 147º 20'

Place and space: the difference?

In previous postings I have explored the nature of the concepts of place and space. An outcome of such discussion is usually a need to articulate the difference between place and space for the non-geographer (and geographer in fact). What essentially is the difference?

The following work from Massey and Cresswell is a very useful delineation of the difference between place and space:

Space and place are often merged together in the geographical imagination but space is more abstract than place. We begin with undifferentiated expanses of space and then we identify with certain parts of space, get to know them better endow them with value, then name and identify them as places. It is people that form place. Space is a locale that is made into a place by human intent. A place is given its personality by human relationships across space. It is produced through connections to the rest of the world, particularly the movement of people but also commodities and ideas (Massey,1991, Cresswell, 2004).”

Most importantly it is the humanistic interpretation of place that is at the centre of place study for the cultural geographer. This sense of place is fundamental when exploring the connection of people to place and their sense of place. However the term sense of place has been defined and used in many different ways by many different people.

“To some, it is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not, while to others it is a feeling or perception held by people (not by the place itself). It is often used in relation to those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as to those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging.”

Others, such as geographer Yi-Fu-Tuan have pointed to senses of place that are not inherently "positive," such as fear.”

The work of Yi-Fu-Tuan is particular interesting in this area. His work called “Topophilia: a study of environmental perception, attitudes, and values” had significant impact on the area of human geography since the 1970’s and is an area I would love to see geography classes engage in.

Topophilia means literally love of place. It is a term used to describe the strong sense of place or identity among certain people It can be defined widely so as to include all emotional connections between physical environment and human beings.

In 2001 I conducted a GIS project with my students, called Streetscapes, which on a small scale I tried to get students to determine through specific criteria why every street has a different feel and sense of place.

In fact, to add or clarify the confusion about place and space, Yi-Fu-Tuan contends in his book Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, that:

“… place is defined as a particular part of space that can be occupied, unoccupied, real, or perceived.”
“a space requires a movement from a place to another place. Similarly, a place requires a space to be a place. Hence, the two notions are co-dependent.”

Yi-Fu-Tuan went on to say that:

“…the ways in which people feel and think about space, how they form attachments to home, neighborhood, and nation, and how feelings about space and place are affected by the sense of time. He suggests that place is security and space is freedom: we are attached to the one and long for the other.”

As what often happen in this area of geographical conceptualisation, one can get more confused the further one reads. Can I suggest that a read of some of Yi-Fu-Tuan’s work is well worthwhile to see that place and space are more than just dimensions and patterns to be mapped but are determined by human perception, sense of belonging and attachment. It certainly enriches the study of the key concepts of place and space in the Australian Curriculum: Geography. The following edited extracts from the draft Australian Curriculum: Geography released this week clearly shows that the writers have been influenced by the modern geographical work on place and space outlined above. For example:


“A place is a specific part of the Earth’s surface that has been named and given meaning by people, and these meanings may differ. The concept of place, however, goes well beyond the study of places and is about a way of understanding, explaining and thinking. In particular in involves exploring people’s aesthetic, emotional, cultural and spiritual connections with places; the role of places in their own feelings of identity, sense of place and belonging; and the ways they experience and use places. It is to be recognised that places may be altered and remade by people, and that changes promoted by one group may be contested by others.”


“Space in geography is the three-dimensional surface of the Earth. While history studies change over time, geography studies difference across space, and has a particular interest in understanding the rich diversity of environments, peoples, cultures and economies that exist together on the surface of the Earth.
The study of space in geography recognises that people perceive and use spaces differently, and may feel accepted and safe in some and unwelcome or unsafe in others.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Citing sites: worth a look!

Left image: Just rocks!
Right image: Adelaide from the air: grid patterns.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Some geography sites to have a look at.

* Strange maps: Something different
This blog collects and comments on all kinds of intriguing maps—real, fictional, and what-if ones. His map "US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs" has been viewed more than 587,000 times. An anthology of maps from this blog was published by Penguin in 2009 and can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. An amazing array of different maps to get the mind going and thinking out of the square about maps.

* Mission: Explore, a project to engage young people with geography in new ways has recently been relaunched. On the site at you will discover over 100 activities, a Geography Awareness Week badge and much more. Your organisation can even become a partner challenger and create your own activities and challenges on the site if you would like.

*Geo Tweets worth following:

* Our Cool School site at brings sustainability and environment into the classroom - providing educators with engaging, fun and informative learning activities on a whole range of topics.This site is an Australian first and is free to use. Learning activities are year level specific (years 1-10) and linked to curriculum standards, including physical, personal and social learning. Discipline-based learning as well as interdisciplinary learning are also addressed. Complete units of work can simply be downloaded from the Cool School and taken straight into the classroom. There is a strong emphasis on ease of use for educators. The Cool School encourages students to work on what they can do to help our environment, without being overwhelmed by the greater challenges we all face. The site concentrates on helping students have a positive impact on their own world so they can apply their knowledge with confidence to the broader community.
The site is updated daily to bring educators the most relevant news on our environment with an emphasis on ease of use and quick understanding.

* Educational resources from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Latest curriculum related teaching resources, student activities and statistical tools that have been developed by ABS Education Services as well as other ABS resources that are useful for schools
The 2011 data tables for CensusAtSchool are now available on the CensusAtSchool homepage. You'll find links to the National summary tables and National time series under the red 'Data' section.

* Geography Teachers Asssociation of New South Wales have some excellent resource links up on their site at In particular have a look at Pat Beesons recent presentation at the GTANSW conference on population resources for geography teachers is worth a look at
While on the topic of population, here are some interesting articles recently published in the Washington Post and New Scientist.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Part 4 of Watch this space: Space, more than just spatial science

Left image: Petrel Cave, Victor Harbor.
Right image: Setting sun over Sydney Harbour.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Space, more than just spatial science

Nick Hutchinson, AGTA's “thinker in residence”, contends in his excellent paper, Space: moving beyond spatial science to engage Australian students with Asian geography that “geography is much, much more than the branch of science concerned with identifying and describing the Earth, utilising spatial awareness to try and understand why things exist in specific locations.”

In the paper Nick highlights the current debates about space in contemporary human geography and suggests that such a perspective/s should have significant implication for geography teachers and the Australian Curriculum, Geography.

Nick has for some time been discussing the nature and complexity of space beyond the mechanistic view. In his paper Nick describes and analyses the myriad of perspectives which have been developed by academic geographers to discuss the nature of space in geography. At the beginning of his paper Nick provides a view of the space concepts as many of us see it.

“Space is one of the more important geographical ideas. It is a highly complex term
that is used and understood in a variety of ways (Crang & Thrift, 2000, 1). It is most commonly thought of as a great expanse extending in all directions, a vast canvas on which geographers work to describe the earth, and an expanse that extends from personal space to the global. Within this vast space, or over portions of it, all material objects are located. This is the space of explorers, map makers, field study, and of Geographical Information System analysis. This is the geographer’s palette where they work on the assumption that where things are located in space has some significance.”

Nick highlights the criticism of spatial science which focusses on our desire to construct human geography as an autonomous science of the spatial. There is a growing need for geographers to emphasise the importance of incorporating social relations and processes into spatial analysis. Indeed, space has began to be thought of as something that is produced by human activity. By the 1980s space was ‘seen not merely as an arena in which social life unfolds, but rather as a medium through which social relationships are produced and reproduced'. (Gregory & Urry, 1985, 3).

It is the human perspective of space that Nick considers needs to have greater credence in our thinking about space. Nick actually quotes the definition of space I developed in trepidation in a previous Spatialworlds posting. I agree my definition is very mechanistic in nature and after reading Nick’s article I feel that there is room to move the definition out of the science approach to a more humanistic perspective.

As Nick says:
“geography is much, much more than the branch of science concerned with identifying and describing the Earth, utilising spatial awareness to try and understand why things exist in specific locations.”

In no way could I do justice to Nick’s well researched and analytical article (will try to give a reference to it when Nick puts it on-line) but I think it is useful to highlight and provide links to some of the key space concepts and subordinate concepts Nick highlights in his discussion and articulation of space.

Absolute space (subordinate concepts: spatial patterns, location, spatial association, spatial interaction, movement, network, nodes, hierarchies, spatial distributions, spatial structure and organisation, spatial, relationships, directional orientation, distance, relative position)

Social space (subordinate concepts: socially-produced space, conceived space, spaces of representation, perceived space, spatial practice, lived space, representational space)

Thirdspace (subordinate concepts: spatiality, Firstspace, Secondspace, Thirdspace, ‘making of geographies’, ‘out of place’ people) Thirdspace is to be explored spatially, ‘to improve the world in some significant way’. The concept of thirdspace can be broadly used to highlight the ‘othering’ of geographical space and social spatiality.
Read more on thirdspace

Space given meaning by human endeavour (subordinate concepts: ‘time–space compression’, space of flows, Dreaming spaces and learning tracks, personal space, virtual space, real space.)

Relative space (subordinate concepts: relative space, topological space, relative space, ‘time–space compression)

Relational space (subordinate concepts: fluid space, social space, Cartesian and
Euclidian space, the nature of space, conceptualisations of space, space as a Conjuncture

Nick's article focusses on a new way of looking at space, with the subordinate concepts: spaces shaped by social relations, social relations shaped by space–‘geography matters’, power geometries, ready-made space, space in the making, hierarchies of power in space, scaled space, heterogeneous space, space under construction, bodily space and performative space being fascinating areas to investigate for teh geographer. For example, the authors of Living Geography look at futures, in terms of sustainable development, global dimensions: living in the wider world, applying geographical thinking to life, death and disease, as well as advocating the use of digital and spatial technologies to explore space.

So in summary, traditionally contemporary school geographies have dealt 'primarily with ‘absolute space’, the space that is broadly taken for granted in western societies and naively assumes sense of space as emptiness – but it is only one way in which space can be conceptualised.’ Nick contends that this more complex, humanistic and open-ended view of space would provide a wonderful opportunity for school geography to develop a more sophisticated treatment of all that we study.

My question, as I struggled to understand some of the intellectualising on space; is how do we translate to the teachers and in turn students the complexity of this work on space without creating great confusion and irrelevance?

I agree with Nick when he says:

“Let us continue to scratch our heads, theorise and change our minds about the concept of space and the spatial…”
The fact that we have trouble creating a definitive definition for space is strength and adds to the richness of the discipline, a discipline always evolving and being re-interpreted. Such debate and discussion on a key concept can only add to the quality of geography in schools but we must keep touch with the realities of everyday teaching and learning in school geography.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spatial Citizenship: Why not?

Left image:The River Murray from the air, near Murray Bridge in South Australia.
Right image:Sydney Harbour on a busy and sunny Friday afternoon.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Sydney: S: 34º 0' E: 151º 0'

The spatial capacity: An ignored competency / essential learning / capability

"Location-based services are becoming pervasive. Spatial awareness and geo-understanding are core competences which need to be developed to enable citizens to contribute meaningfully to these shared digital environments. Critical evaluation of the information available is also essential where maps and other visualisations frequently tell lies at their worst and half-truths at their best." Donert 2009

There are more than just vocational and learning objectives reasons for the use of spatial technology and applications in schools.

It can argued, the development of spatial literacy/thinking and the associated use of spatial technology is equally about the development of the citizenship capacity of young people.

Increasingly, there is research and commentary on the importance of “the spatial” when we look at the suite of citizenship skills required to develop a functional, positive and empowered citizen in a democracy. I know it is yet another term but the area of spatial citizenship and the expression itself is beginning to gain currency in the geography community. Many see the concept as serving a useful purpose in promoting the importance of spatial thinking and spatial technologies in the curriculum. However the expression spatial citizenship is not about using spatial skills and technology to map politics as discussed in a previous Spatialworlds posting, it is about building citizenship capacity via an awareness, use and application of spatial thinking and associated technologies – both good and bad. Because of the power of spatial thinking and pervasiveness of spatial technology in our society in the 21st Century it is in beholden upon education to ensure that young people are fully aware of and skilled in the way of spatial thinking and the use of technology which can impact greatly upon them as citizens.

Spatial citizenship capacity has become especially acute due to the georevolution over the past few decades , as evidenced in these two quotes:

“The capacity of spatial systems means that over 80% of all data is now attached to place.”

“ … over the past 15 to 20 years there has been a massive revolution happening in both the private and public sector, as geography has proved to be a fundamental part of the processes on which these commercial and non-commercial organisations rely. Roy Laming ESRI (UK) CEO

Although spatial citizenship is a new expression, what we are talking about is hardly new when we consider the importance and application of geography for young people (as citizens now, not what some talk about suspended citizenship for young people). The following quotes from the UK highlight the shifting focus for geography to be seen as an important subject for citizenship and community cohesion in 21st Century societies.

“We live in a constantly changing and interacting world – geography is the study of how political, economic, social and environmental processes shape, differentiate and change places and regions.” Dr Rita Gardner.

"Geography, in the way it brings together the human and the natural – physical, the social and the environmental, people and place, equips a 21st geography curriculum with the power of integrative thinking that will allow them to navigate the ethical dilemmas our era of supercomplexity presents.”
Curriculum Development: Producing Geographers for the 21st Century B Whalley 2011, Journal of Geography in Higher Education

The role of geography as a potential community cohesion builder is further supported by the site which states that:

Increasingly Europe is seeing spatial knowledge, awareness ands skills as a core dimension of citizenship – learning to live positively with difference and diversity.”

Through their Living Geography” initiative the GA in the UK continues to promote the idea of geography promoting community cohesions.

“… the area of COMMUNITY COHESION: something which has been in the news recently, and an area which geography should make a major contribution towards.”

Another angle on the reasons for spatial thinking and spatial technology use in our schools is the desire to ensue that citizens are fully aware of the power and potential of the technology to do good and bad in our society. To be aware of a technology is to be armed against its mis-use and/or mis-representation of what the data or visualizations are showing. Just like statistics spatial representations and analysis are only as objective and fair as the person carrying out the application. There needs to be a degree of critical analysis by citizens to ensure that it is not abused or used for the wrong purposes. Potential “Big Brother” or “Nanny State” technologies such as spatial technology must be accountable by citizens to be used for the “common good”.

The importance of spatial citizenship (maybe not as that expression) is certainly recognized in the Australian Curriculum: Geography when we quote one of the 5 aims of the Australian Curriculum: Geography
* as informed, responsible and active citizens who can contribute to the development of a sustainable and socially just world.
ACARA Australian Curriculum: Geography draft scope and sequence

If geographers in Australia believe in this aim as a fundamental reason why we are teaching geography, then we should begin to talk about spatial citizenship, and use it as an expression, as core rationale of what, how and why we want students to develop their spatial thinking and capacity related to the world they live in now (not just the world they will enter at 18 as an Australian citizen).

The following 2010 definition of spatial citizenship by Gryl, Jekel and Donert is a good stating point in our attempt to clarify the concept. We may need to add such a definition to the geography glossary in the future as we continue to promote the idea of spatial citizenship as a major driver for the inclusion of geography and the use of spatial technology in the curriculum.

“A spatial citizen should be able to interpret and critically reflect on spatial representations, communicate with the aid of maps and other spatial representations and … express location-specific opinions using spatial technologies and/or geo-media.”