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Nov 15, 2016

Promoting the Use of G.I.S. in Schools

Geospatial information systems may be introduced in the classrooms through the curriculum starting from primary schools. On Tuesday, primary school teachers participated in a workshop where they were introduced to GIS and the best ways to use it to make teaching and learning more engaging. On the second day of the workshop, secondary and tertiary educators also got hands on experience and learnt how to use GIS in delivery of math, social studies and other subjects. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at today’s workshop. She shares what the teachers are learning about GIS and what it means for student learning:

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Secondary and Tertiary educators are learning how to use GIS to incorporate it into the curriculum. GIS, an interdisciplinary tool, is being used across the world to deliver lessons in just about every subject area. While it seeks to introduce this technology to classrooms in Belize, it is about engaging students in a different way.

 

Diana Sinton

Diana Sinton, Education Ambassador, Esri

“Looking at things with this geographical perspective helps students understand materials, whether it is history, or mathematics, science or social studies; whatever it might be it really could be used across the curriculum. It has to do with understanding how Geography and these types of arrangements influence history, social studies and different Science. We were just doing latitudes and longitude lines grid systems which is something that students are required; it is a compulsory part of the CXC exam that is taken before university. So I know that the teachers who are here who are math teachers are understanding how even these types maps can be used to explain mathematical concepts, reference systems, xy grids, for example.   What we are doing right now is really the lowest barrier, the lowest threshold right here where we are giving these educators ideas for short; fifteen minute, twenty minute things in a course which help students engage in a material differently. We are not saying you are not going to be teaching the same science, social studies or whatever it might be. But here is a really fun, easy to use, interactive, computer based, internet based platform that students can often also be quite comfortable with. Students will be spending more time with the material; they are interacting with it in a different way. It is different to have a computer to be clicking where you can pan and zoom and click on something and have information pop up versus some of the traditional ways.”

 

While participants are only getting a basic introduction to this technology, they welcome the idea to use it in the classroom. Today they get to use the technology and see for themselves just how far reaching it can be in lesson delivery, knowledge retention and other areas that extend beyond the classroom.

 

Noel Carballo

Noel Carballo, Corozal Junior College

“I think one of the biggest things in terms of education is getting students to be interested in terms of want to come to school. This is one way of making education both interesting and relevant, because they are learning in a way and learning a skill that could make them employable in the future.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What opportunities you see to use GIS in mathematics?”

 

Noel Carballo

“Well, as a teacher educator for primary school, one of the things as I go to observe teachers, I find out okay you teach children how to use a measuring tape to measure. Many of them find it boring and probably end up having behavioral problems not because they are mischievous children or bad children; it is just because they are bored and want to do more.  So, in Math I can see a lot of uses in terms of having them doing things in measuring but not just in traditional inches and small things, but around the globe and being a global citizen and how far distances are.”

 

Marjorie Shaw

Marjorie Shaw, Sacred Heart Junior College

“I can see where the GIS training and what we now are becoming aware of, how this could begin to change the situation so our primary school children can have a richer experience as long as teachers are willing to embrace the opportunities that they have. I realize that, in looking at the training, there is a wealth of information that can be given to the students or the students could be allowed to discover for themselves. It lays a good foundation for them who will move on to high school and sit CSEC exams in geography, social studies and other subjects where they will need to interpret in what they see in pictures.”

 

Loretta Palacio of TBSL says that the GIS interactive workshop seeks to get Belize caught up with best practices and will help both teachers and students:

 

Loretta Palacio

Loretta Palacio, Managing Director, TBSL

“We are joining in on the best practices. We want out students to be competitive not only in the class room in their education, but in their careers. So, if we prepare them now we help the educators to be aware of the direction then it would be passed on to our students. We met with the MOE last week and they said this is timely. At the end of the day, we are hoping that our educators will be enlightened, empowered to see the role of this technology in the role of delivery of math, science, social studies,all the different subject areas. Because it has been proven that when you use Geospatial technology, GIS, Geographic Information Systems in education, it enhances learning and opens up a world of opportunities for our students.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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