GPS, ICT  Comments Off on OpenStreetMap
Oct 062007

I was reminded earlier this week about Open StreetMap.

osm logoThis is a wiki-style project that aims to create free geographic data for everyone to use. I took a look at the area around my school and was delighted to discover that the coverage is very patchy, raising the prospects of a nice school project based on my favourite maxim, Chris Durbin’s ‘Real Geography, Real Outcomes’

To get going requires a little more than a GPS and a web browser. The Open StreetMap wiki provides a very good Beginners Guide. Start by creating an account and locating your home area. You then go out and collect data with a GPS. This as straightforward as walking, cycling or driving around an area while recording a tracklog. The next stage is to extract data from your GPS, save it as a GPX file, (I use Easy GPS for this) and upload it to the OSM server. Don’t forget that GPS Visualizer offers a range of options for viewing your GPX data in the classroom.
The next stage is to edit the GPX file to create OSM data. There are a few options for this, the simplest by far is to use the online Flash editor provided, that allows you to edit map data in your web browser. Finally the map is rendered and changes can be seen in OSM, (although this doesn’t happen immediately.)

I started contributing data for my local area this morning.
When I’ve done a little more experimenting, I think that this could be a really excellent way of teaching mapping to quite young students.

Apr 272007

I’ve created a wikispace for a new project on Personal Geographies. The idea is that Year 8 students will plan, discuss and write up their local fieldwork projects on the wiki. All the projects are based on the student’s perceptions of the local area and they have come up with some very interesting ideas. I’m able to use the wiki to add suitable guidance materials and comments on the work in progress; hopefully other teachers and parents will be able to discuss the work as it develops.

wikispace Go to the wiki

The project is an attempt at teaching with a co-constructivist approach. I’m hoping that the use of the wiki and web 2.0 tools such as Flickr and Google My Maps will mean that students collaborate with each other and work on the project out of school hours. They are being encouraged to use their mobile phones to take pictures and video, and hopefully they’ll learn some valuable new ICT skills that they can apply to a real world context. I’m using wikispaces because of the level of support they offer teachers.

There is a little risk involved, partly in terms of how colleagues might percieve the “geography” of the work. I could not have predicted that a group of students would have chosen to investigate locations for a fashion photoshoot or that others would be identifying the site for a new theatre space. One group of boys are creating a Parkour map of the town. There are a few stipulations, the students have to produce a map and collect and process some primary data as part of the outcome.

Let me know if you’d like to join the wiki.