Esri stumps up $100 M to put GIS into every Australian classroom

By on 29 August, 2017

Esri has committed 100 million dollars to getting GIS mapping software, ArcGIS, into schools across the country. The project is part of a global billion dollar initiative to introduce students to the power of spatial data and information and equip teachers to lead them there.

The program will provide both the software and data for teaching, as well as tutorials and questions for guided discussions. Sample projects are available for a variety of subjects to investigate human and scientific issues that can be analysed using spatial data.  

GIS technology is broadly deployed across Australia’s private and public sectors, including the mining sector, utilities, law enforcement, retail and at all levels of government.

“Prior to recent years, GIS was solely the domain of highly-skilled spatial professionals, now it is being leveraged by boards, CEOs and other business leaders in their planning and day-to-day decision making,” managing director, Brett Bundock said. The program is designed to promote a deeper learning experience around spatial sciences by providing access to a range of ready-to-go projects developed to link with the school’s curriculum.

“These allow students to use ArcGIS to tackle real-life issues that affect Australia, such as urban sprawl, the health of the Murray-Darling system and the livability of the nation’s cities,” Natassja Dasios, Esri Australia’s Education Program manager, said. “They can analyse specific datasets spatially and build up evidence to support potential solutions – just as professionals would.”

“With spatial thinking becoming more mainstream, it is essential the current generation of GIS professionals invest in the next.” – Brett Bundock, Managing Director, Esri Australia

Such an initiative needs to be supported at all levels within a school to reach the full impact. Aspley East State School in Brisbane’s north is among the first schools to take up the offer. Head of Curriculum Jaime Perkins said his students would gain a deeper understanding of a technology most Australian’s use daily without realising.

“Many of us use mapping apps to get from A to B or find the nearest restaurant,” Mr Perkins said.

“Now, rather than just viewing maps, students will be learning how to add to them with new, information-rich layers – such as population density or rainfall.

“It is an interactive process that will give them a more detailed knowledge of how the technology works and how it can be applied across a range of subjects.”

Esri has provided a number of educational projects for students and teachers to use in the classroom. In this example, students can explore the spatial distribution and trends of datasets like worldwide plant and animal diversity.

 

Esri Education Industry Development Manager Dr Joseph Kerski – who helped launch the program – said spatial thinking was more relevant for young people than ever before.

“Students are becoming increasingly aware of issues such as climate change and sustainable agriculture and energy sources,” Dr Kerski said.

“Smart mapping offers a powerful decision-making toolkit that can be used to tackle these challenges. It also appeals to today’s visual learners and provides pathways to professions that are increasingly in demand.”

To find out more about Esri Australia’s GIS for Schools program, visit: https://esriaustralia.com.au/gis-for-schools

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