GI Learner: Developing a learning line on geospatial thinking in secondary education

GI Learner is aiming at integrating geospatial literacy, geospatial thinking and GIScience into schools. Although spatial (geo)thinking is seen as one of the most important sectors in the economy it is seldom really taught in secondary schools.

Geo-ICT is part of the digital economy identified by the European Commission as being vital for innovation, growth, jobs and European competitiveness. As a rapidly growing business sector, there is a clear and growing demand for Geo-ICT know-how (Donert, 2005).

The use of GI tools to support spatial thinking has become integral to everyday life. Through media agencies that use online interactive mapping and near ubiquitously available tools like GPS and car navigation systems, the general public has started to become aware of some of the potential of spatial data. This means it is important to establish curriculum opportunities for the use of data and build the competence of youngsters in its use.

Space and location make spatial thinking a distinct, basic and essential skill that can and should be learned in school education, alongside other skills like language, mathematics and science. The goal of GI-Learner is to integrate spatial literacy, spatial thinking and GIScience into secondary schools. In order to do this, the project followed these steps:

  1. Summarize the most important literature on learning lines and spatial thinking to have a solid scientific base
  2. Distillate out of the previous steps a distinct and essential set of geospatial thinking competencies
  3. Scan the curricula of the partner countries to identify opportunities to introduce spatial thinking and GIScience
  4. Developed an evaluative tool to analyse the impact of the learning lines on geospatial thinking
  5. Created learning lines translating the competencies into learning objectives, teaching and learning materials for the whole curriculum (K7 to K12) .

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