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Blog // Connect Michigan

Educating at high-speed through GIS

By CMI Staff

By Ashley Hitt

Michigan MapSeptember is Education Month at Connected Nation. In addition to objectives of expanding broadband and technology awareness and adoption throughout local communities, CN is also working to enhance knowledge and broadband connectivity in schools. Part of a growing trend in education at all levels is an increase in teaching Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to students to provide a better understanding of the world around them.

With nearly two out of three jobs requiring at least some college education by 2018, advances in technology and geospatial analysis will continue to accelerate; educators must continue enhancing lessons in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields to prepare students. One way to accomplish this is through applying GIS to various projects and courses that are already being discussed in the classroom.

Giving students the opportunity to make their own conclusions about standard classroom topics is empowering; rather than memorize inputs and theories for tests, students take interest in their own approach for the information presented and make personal connections with the data and outcomes. Scott Dobler, the co-coordinator of the Kentucky Geographic Alliance, promotes GIS in the classroom, working with educators across the state to implement GIS strategies. “GIS is a technology that educators can use to help their students visualize STEM disciplines while supporting their content,” he says. Supporting these fields with GIS also promotes an increased knowledge base for developments in the job market; according to Dobler, educators using GIS in the classroom are preparing their students for a future top-job: geotechnology.

Using GIS also helps in visualizing the educational attainment levels across the country; recently, CN added education data layers to the state-based interactive mapping applications called My ConnectViewTM. These data layers include county level statistics on residents with a high school diploma, residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the high school dropout rate. The display of this information demonstrates the power of GIS in understanding areas that may be struggling with high dropout rates and any trends that may exist spatially.

To see the new education data on My ConnectViewTM, visit the interactive map page: http://www.connectmi.org/broadband-landscape. Follow us as we highlight the interaction between technology and education by visiting our new webpage, http://www.connectednation.org/education, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter!

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