OTEC Home Page

Integrating IT Into Each Subject Area

IT-Using Geographic Educators

IT is now a routine tool of geographers and has contributed to substantial changes in this field.

The content of this page are designed to encourage and support two distinct but related things:

  1. The appropriate integration of IT into the everyday fabric of Geography curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
  2. The development of a community of IT in Geography educators who are mutually supportive. This community will include preservice, inservice, and retired educators, and other volunteers.

Join the Oregon IT in Geographic Education E-mail Distribution List

or-it-geoed is an interactive E-mail distribution list (anybody can join, anybody can post) in Geographic Education.

To join the Geographic Education list and the general OTEC list, send an E-mail message to:


In the body of the message (NOT in the subject line) enter the text:

subscribe or-it-geoed
subscribe ocite

After you join the or-it-geoed E-mail Distribution List, send a message to the list talking about some of the good things you are doing and/or are aware of uses of IT in Geographic Education. If you are aware of really good websites that Oregon IT-Using Geographic teachers might find useful, share this information.



Note: A Google search using the term GIS Oregon produces a large number of GIS references to activities in Oregon.

Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies [Online]. Accessed 6/2/01/: http://www.cast.uark.edu/local/hunt/.

A guide to mostly on-line and mostly free U.S. geospatial and attribute data. Includes a link to EPA Region 10 Public Access Data Library (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington).

Geographic Information Science @ Oregon State University [Online]. Accessed 6/2/01: http://terra.geo.orst.edu/ucgis/.

This web site describes GIS facilities, research, faculty, and education at Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

Digitized Maps [Online]. Accessed 3/15/02: http://www.wired.com/news/
culture/0,1284,50785,00.html. Quoting from the Website:

When David Rumsey decided to take his private collection of 19th and 20th century maps public, even the world's largest library wanted to take part in the effort.

But, rather than donate his vast collection of 150,000 maps to the Library of Congress, Rumsey decided to put it online. "With (some) institutions, the access you can get is not nearly as much as the Internet might provide," said Rumsey, president of Cartography Associates. "I realized I could reach a much larger audience with the Internet."

The result is an extraordinary compilation of more than 6,500 high-resolution digital images from one of the largest private collections in the United States.

In 1997, Rumsey partnered with Luna Imaging to digitize his collection and allow users to search, zoom, pan and print these age-old maps.

But merely posting images online wasn't enough; Rumsey wanted to give users an unparalleled experience in the physical world of cartography.

So last year, Rumsey introduced a GIS< (Geographical Information System) browser, using visualization software developed by Telemorphic.

With the GIS browser, users can overlay multiple maps from different time periods with current geospatial data, like roads, lakes, parks, aerial photos and satellite imagery. They can also create, save and print their own custom maps to trace changes in a geographic area's history, population or culture.

"(GIS) changes the way that people experience old maps by letting them compare (these maps) to modern data," Rumsey said. "This will bring both historical information into the world of GIS and it will also bring the art of old maps into the world of GIS."

Rumsey is the first collector to make GIS freely available to people through the Internet. That effort is part of his plan to "keep access open and free" to his entire collection.

Rumsey uses a digital camera to scan three-dimensional items such as atlases, globes and books. Images are scanned at a high resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch, with some extremely detailed maps scanned at 600 pixels per inch "to give a sense of the texture of paper."

Scanned images undergo a technique called rectification or "rubber sheeting," whereby an image from an old map is warped to fit another image with more accurate, modern geospatial data. It takes approximately three hours to rubber sheet each individual map.

Cartographers, GIS professionals, historians and map enthusiasts can use this data to pinpoint a particular address, find out how towns were populated, how railroads evolved or how European explorers discovered the American West.

The GIS browser allows users to compare 11 different historic maps from Rumsey's collection with aerial photos to see how the San Francisco Bay area changed from 1851 to 1926. Geographers can trace changes in the San Francisco coastline over the past century to determine what parts of the city are subject to liquefaction and earthquake damage.

Maps and Interactive Geography Tools [Online]. Accessed 12/6/00: http://garnet.acns.fsu.edu/~phensel/maps.html.

Provides links to a large number of excellent resources.

National Geographic Society: Geography Action [Online]. Accessed 11/6/01: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/geographyaction/. Quoting from the Website:

Geography Action! You're invited to take part in Geography Action!, an annual conservation and awareness program designed to educate and excite people about our natural, cultural, and historic treasures. Join the National Geographic Society in protecting our greatest resource--the Earth--by "taking action" with hands-on conservation activities. Geography Action! starts each spring, and culminates during Geography Awareness Week, in November, when the results of how people "took action" will be posted online. To view past Geography Action! activities, visit our archive.

Geography Action! Rivers 2001 This year Geography Action! highlights rivers. People and rivers are connected on many levels. Rivers provide our drinking water, nourish our agriculture, and support many endangered species. When we use rivers, we alter the course and balance of river systems, and threaten the future of one of our most important natural resources. Take action for rivers today, for the sake of the future. Then celebrate rivers during Geography Awareness Week, November 11-17.

NE Oregon GIS User's Group [Online]. Accessed 6/2/02: http://www.oregontrail.net/~akramer/neorgisug.htm. Quoting from the Website:

Mission: Networking with the goal of maintaining enthusiasm in the NE Oregon GIS community.

Oregon Department of Forestry Management Districts [Online]. Accessed 6/2/02: http://www.odf.state.or.us/StateForests/sfgis/.

Oregon Department of Forestry state forests, GIS data, and tools.

Oregon Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Statewide Site License [Online]. Accessed 12/3/00: http://geography.uoregon.edu/
gis/sitelicense/. See also: Accessed 12/3/00: http://geography.uoregon.edu/gis/
sitelicense/paper.html. The following information was added to the OTEC Website on 5/30/01.

Many of you have heard about the idea of geographic information systems. These software systems represent a superb blending of computer capability with a number of different fields that make use of maps and information related to the locations of the maps. (Think of carrying the power of spreadsheets into anything that can be mapped in two or three dimensions. Thus, such a map might show the environment, natural resources, people, buildings, and transportation systems in a region, and be used to study their interactions.)

An Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) site license allows unlimited access to all ESRI software (ArcInfo, ArcView and others) to all faculty, students and staff at these participating institutions:

Oregon University System

  • Eastern Oregon University
  • Oregon Health Sciences University
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Oregon State University
  • Portland State University
  • Southern Oregon University
  • University of Oregon
  • Western Oregon University

Community Colleges

  • Blue Mountain Community College
  • Central Oregon Community College
  • Chemeketa Community College
  • Lane Community College
  • Mount Hood Community College
  • Portland Area Community College
  • Southwest Community College
  • Tillamook Community College
  • Treasure Valley Community College

The University of Oregon took the lead on organizing an ESRI licensing agreement with the Oregon University System. The actual agreement is between the Oregon Educational Technology Consortium (OETC; http://www.oetc.org/) and ESRI.

Oregon Geographic Alliance (OGA) [Online]. Accessed 11/6/01: http://geogres.pdx.edu/oga/index.html. Quoting from the Website:

Alliance Mission:
  • To increase public awareness of the importance of geographic education.
  • To increase the emphasis on geography in grades K-12.
  • To improve geographic teaching methods and materials.

Oregon Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (OGDC) [Online]. Accessed 6/2/01/: http://www.sscgis.state.or.us/. Quoting from the Website:

WELCOME to the Oregon Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (OGDC), formerly known as the State Service Center for GIS. The OGDC helps to coordinate GIS activities in the state, facilitates communication about GIS issues, and maintains the Website that hosts spatial data shared by Oregon state agencies. The clearinghouse is funded, in part, through an assessment from state agencies. It also operates as an enterprise fund and provides data transfers and plotting services on a fee basis.

Schmieder, Allen (2/9/01). IT in Geography Education at Precollege and Higher Education Levels. <aschmieder@jdltech.com> . Contents of an email message that provides an excellent overview of integration of IT into geography education.

University Consortium of Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) [Online]. Accessed 6/2/01: http://www.ucgis.org/. Quoting from the Website:

The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) is a non-profit organization of universities and other research institutions dedicated to advancing our understanding of geographic processes and spatial relationships through improved theory, methods, technology, and data.

Top of Page


IT in Geography Education

Schmieder, Allen (2/9/01). IT in Geography Education at Precollege and Higher Education Levels. <aschmieder@jdltech.com>

The following is the text of an email message from Allen Schmeider that was sent to the PTTT email distribution list on 2/9/01 and is reproduced here with his permission. It provides excellent insights on the appropriate roles of integration of IT into geography education.

Gary, I have been working on/presenting on "The Status of Technology in the Nation's Schools," and the "Millennium School," for several years now and feel that the overlap between schools and colleges is substantial. One of the main differences in higher education is that you do have some very cutting edge technology being used in the non-education departments in the university. I, for example was a geography professor before joining the Federal government and geographers are among the leaders in the use of technology (GIS, GPS, Multispec, Remote Sensing, etc.) so ed students taking geography would generally see the new technologies in use. One of your focuses should be: "the implications of the use of technology in non-education courses for preservice education students!" Now to a quick list of several of the barriers to the accelerated infusion of technology into teacher education:

1. most schools in the nation still do not use technology in mainstream management, instruction, and assessment so there is little demand from them for technology proficient teachers. Many talk about good technology things happening in their schools, but relatively, technology is not widely used in classrooms teaching the core subjects. When the day comes that we can randomly pick a school system, a day of the week, a school, a time of day, a classroom, and find that classroom instruction focused on technology-supported-centered-web-based-etc. we will truly have 21st century education.

2. most educators at all levels still do not realize how wide the gap is (in the use of technology) between society and education - nor believe that the situation has become critical - the real digital divide is between education and society - businesses without cutting edge technology will soon be out of business. in education, they stay in business but their students suffer!

3. educators need to realize that they do not have to become programmers or even experts in power point - they need to wade in and begin to learn some new things - they need to become advocates for the use of technology - research says it takes five years to become fascile with the technology (we need to shorten that to two or three years - and I have some ideas - as do others- for how to do that.

4. possibly the biggest barrier is the belief that we will only move the technology in when we can prove that it increases achievement in the core subjects. this is currently not really possible since the cutting edges of the core subjects have been transformed by the new technologies - and we don't have assessment instruments for measuring the use of the new technologies - the new approaches to accessing knowledge and problem solving using the new technologies - we seem bent on using nineteenth century measures for 21st century education. The sooner we get the technology into schools and education programs the sooner we will begin to close the digital divide. Our first measure of success should be related to how fast we get the technology into colleges and classrooms! Mandated infusion in Dakota State and some other places accelerated their using it in the classrooms. I firmly believe that professors who will not use it, should take sabbaticals and work in the real world for a year - they will return and be technology advocates!

5. another barrier is the belief that the new technologies are expensive. generally they are not - and the prices continue to fall as the use expands - good desktops can be had (in bulk) for $500 - laptops have dropped to close to $1,000 - palm pilots are down to $200 - GPS dropped from $1500 to $50 in the last five years - etc. etc. Moore's Law is still working!

6. Another barrier is the belief that the new technologies decrease the human element in classrooms - the opposite is true - they force the use of multiple approaches to teaching and learning - individualization is more possible, group/team approaches are more commong, homework on handheld digital devices are synchronized into classroom computers and projected onto large screens - lectures can be shared across hundreds of miles, etc. etc. We finally have the capacity to individualize and use a myriad of approaches to teaching complex concepts - IN FACT TO ENABLE STUDENTS TO NOT ONLY BETTER LEARN THINGS BUT TO HELP CREATE NEW KNOWLEDGE AND NEW APPROACHES TO LEARNING.

7. Another barrier is the continued (for almost 20 years now) separation of MIS and Instructional Technology staff when they should be on the same team and working closely together - management, instruction, and assessment infusion should be planned and implemented using the tenants of research on educational change: all the key players work together from A to Z to put the best possible system in place.

8. A big barrier in schools that is creeping into colleges is the notion that those few internal people who have taken the lead in learning about and patching the technology together the best way they can are best suited to take the lead in designing, developing and implementing the kind of robust, scaleable, feasible technology infrastructure needed for a first class college/university system is way off the mark. (I have a bias because I now work for one of the nation's best known infrastructure companies which has focused exclusively on education for over ten years now) There are a growing number of businesses that are real experts - have installed hundreds, if not thousands of sophisticated networks, that need to be used to provide 21st century infrastructures. If you had a serious medical problem, would you go to your local GP or the Mayo Clinic. Universities are the epitome of the notion that their scholars are the best experts in their fields - why wouldn't such people demand that the infrastructure that will help them continue to be the best in their fields be designed, installed, and supported by the best experts in the nation?

There are others but most readers may have already tuned me out. So let me conclude by saying that I firmly believe that unless we rapidly and effectively infuse the best of the cutting edges of technology into schools and colleges of education the nation will be at risk far more than it was when that famous book was written in l984. At least our kids will be at risk.

It is also important to add that the new administration is going to make things far worse with their determination to move the few cutting edge/reform/research programs in the use of technology into the states--where there is essentially no visionary leadership in the use of technology. One of the few hopes we will have if the administration succeeds, is that colleges and universities will step up to the plate and get on board with technology and provide the kind of leadership for their states that state education agencies are (at least currently) unprepared to provide.

cheers - allen schmieder

-----Original Message----- From: Rutkin, Gary [mailto:Gary_Rutkin@ed.gov] Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2001 4:03 PM To: 'pt3-list@pt3.org' Subject: pt3-list Institutional reform: your opinions needed

We need your opinions -- can you help us?

The PT3 program is taking a close look at the factors that foster or impede adoption of technology-infused learning in higher education programs in general, especially as they relate to teacher preparation. We know that, to make a difference in teacher education, changes must be made in the Arts and Sciences programs in which future teachers receive much of their education.

In the coming weeks we'll be asking for your opinions on a number of change-related issues. We hope you'll share your thoughts and comment on others' opinions through this listserv.

The first issue: What do you think are the greatest barriers to change in teacher preparation? Do you see technological change as a separate issue, or is this part of the larger challenge?

Your participation in this discussion will help us develop a strategy and targeted outreach communications plan that we hope will help encourage systemic reform in teacher preparation programs and their appropriate campus-wide counterparts.

Findings of this research will be announced at the PT3 Grantees' Meeting in August. We plan to use this discussion as the basis for specific presentations and activities at the PT3 Grantees' Meeting in August.

If you'd prefer to comment privately, please send in e-mail to Michele Lowe at lowem@fleishman.com. Many thanks, in advance, for your participation.