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Developing a learning line on GIScience in education
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

There is a strong need to implement spatial thinking using GIScience tools in education, for the following reasons: 1) Spatial thinking is integral to everyday life and many of the daily decisions we make. It is the concept of space that makes spatial thinking a distinct form of thinking. It is a basic and essential skill that can and should be learned, alongside other skills like language, mathematics and science. 2) The knowledge and capability to use GIScience and Geographical Information (GI) is not only essential as a basic skill, it also offers significant job opportunities. However at the moment there is a clear mismatch between workforce demand and supply. The GI sector is in many countries a shortage occupation sector. 3) One of the priorities of the European Union the last decade has been the promotion of “digital literacy.” The GIScience tools used are a perfect answer to this. Although some materials are already available for schools, teachers do not tend to use them in their class practice. The main blocking factor is that the notion of GIScience, GI or spatial thinking is uncommon in the curriculum of almost all European countries. If we want to overcome the chasm which at the moment prevents introducing GIScience in schools, we must introduce and institutionalize it inside the curricula of the schools. This must be done taken into account the level of difficulty connected to the age group. The main focus of the project will therefore be the development of a real learning line on GIScience in education for use in schools, enabling them to translate their curriculum into classroom GI-learning. We need to translate the competencies - taking into account age and level - into real learning objectives in a number of different subjects. The consortium consists of seven European partners covering Belgium, the UK, Spain, Austria, Poland and Romania. The partnership consists of various types of organizations and institutions operating in the field of education, each bringing their considerable expertise to the consortium: two universities, four secondary schools and a pan-European professional association. We divide our approach into different stages: 1) first we summarize the most important literature on learning lines and spatial thinking 2) we scan the curricula to identify opportunities to introduce GIScience. 3) We develop a test to analyse the impact of the learning lines on spatial thinking. 3) We create drafts of learning line translating them into real learning objectives for selected years (K7 and K10) 4) Pupils of different age K7 and K10 of the schools will test the materials and give their feedback and if appropriate their amendements. They will also communicate with their age group of the other schools. 5) The teachers and researchers rewrite the learning outcomes into a final version 6) In the second and third year of the project the same work will be done for year groups K8-K11 and K9-K12. Thus the same group of pupils will be testing the materials for three years in a row. 7) Finally the final learning lines will be published . 8) The learning lines will be along with the essential classroom materials, thus facilitating the introduction and implementation 9) A publication with guidelines for suggested inclusion into the national curricula will be produced. The main outputs at the end of the project are: - a state-of-the-art publication on implementing correctly spatial thinking with GIScience tools in education trough methods of a learning line - learning lines on spatial thinking - all needed material (lesson plans, software, data ...) to implement spatial thinking immediately in the classroom. These results will remain freely available to all groups of stakeholders from different education sectors (e.g. teachers, teacher trainers, educators, academics) helping them to implement the learning line on spatial thinking with GIScience tools into their classroom..
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