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"This blog is updated by the JISC funded G3 Project (#jisc3g) team. We are building an framework for teaching and communicating relevant geographic concepts and data to learners from outside the world of geography and GIS. We think this blog will be of particular interest to those working or teaching in HE and FE and those interested in teaching and learning and e-learning."

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Reflective Teaching Practice: Do I need to know there is such a thing as a map projection?

Myself and Claire have just arrived back from the Island of Malta, where we both participate in the International Summer School in GIS held at the University of Malta. We both design and deliver lecture material targeted at professionals who are discovering how GIS maybe useful.

We were discussing our observations of the students and how they learn and interact with the GIS software and its theoretical principles.

One subject up for debate was, "do new learners of GIS and its concepts need to know immediately about projections?" There is a tendency to be puritanical about what concepts new learners of GIS need to understand putting aside this tendency, our conclusion was: “Not necessarily”.

Let me explain. Most everyday users of Bing Maps, Google Maps etc interact with the map quite happily without needing to know that a projection system makes it possible to create the digital representations of the world. The same can be said for users of navigation systems in cars or on phones.

Therefore, it is only natural that a new user of GIS, creating their first map using off the shelf Shape files or MapInfo Tabs (for example taken from Edina’s Digimap service), does not need their first interaction to introduce the complexities of coordinate systems that enable real world to be projected in 2 dimensions. It is only when their data they want to map is not GIS ready that they need to be introduced to a projection system.

1 comment:

  1. I would agree with "not necessarily". Where I have found that understanding projections becomes an issue for new users is with GPS data, usually when it has been collected in lat/long and needs to be placed on projected map data (e.g. a national grid). I have assisted users whose GPS and/or base data have not had integrated projection information - thus appearing GIS-ready, but in fact not.