GVI’s and Trends in Education

In 2010 the OECD published a list of 4 trends that were shaping education  around the world.

  • Globalisation
  • The Future of the Nation State
  • Arew Cities the New Countries
  • Family Matters
  • A Brave New World

Each of these trends is having an effect on my own teaching but for the purposes of brevity I would like to focus on A Brave New World.  A Diagram in the paper summarises the key benefits and drawbacks of Technology for education.

brav new world 1.png


OECD. Publishing, & Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. (2010). Trends Shaping Education 2010. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


For me personally I have seen numerous benefits from technology in my classroom.  Especially recently as an increased portability has allowed more ubiquitous access to computers for my students.  This is the key benefit I would take from the diagram above.  Accessibility.

I am not a digital native.  I am what Mark Prensky defined in 2001 as a digital immigrant.  I was not born into this world of 21st century ICT but I was born recently enough to have been able to reasonably keep pace with its changes and uptake.

I often tell people that Google Earth completely changed the way I taught and I stand by that statement.  Prior to internet based digital maps and satellite images the provision of valuable geographic visualisation relied on my ability to find such imagery in newspapers, books or university libraries.  A highly imprecise methodology in many respects.

In 2000 Monica Wachowicz wrote a paper entitled “The Role of Geographic Visualisation and Knowledge Discovery in Spatio-Temporal Data Modelling”.  Much of the paper focusses on the creation of databases of data and the various models of such data bases but there is a significant section about Geographic visualisations (GVI’s).   Importantly, this paper has a focus on how Geographic visualisation can aid the learning of geography.   Wachowicz states:

“Knowledge is to some extent constructed by the user based on the visual display of information. In a GVis process, … Visual representations allow us to derive meaning from visual displays and interrelate them with different kinds of knowledge…”

Wachowicz, M. (2000). The role of geographic visualisation and knowledge discovery in spatio-temporal data modelling. Time in GIS: Issues in spatio-temporal modelling47, 13-26.

Here Wachowicz is discussing the use of digital methodologies to construct knowledge a dozen years before it would become a benchmark of 21st Century Learning Design/Rubrics as created by ITL Research and Microsoft Partners in Learning.  The value of this paper – in terms of learning outcomes in Geography – is it contains some of the earliest references I have found to how a computer might enable someone to interact with and communicate geospatial data in a method that is more easily accessible to a user.

The ubiquitous nature of technology in particular the internet has allowed greater accessibility to GVI’s and that in turn makes the knowledge they contain more accessible to my students.  My key research topic and a key facet of my current spiral of inquiry is how I can better harness the educational power of these visualisations to enable my students to attain better grades in senior Geography.


OECD. Publishing, & Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. (2010). Trends Shaping Education 2010. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon9(5), 1-6.

Wachowicz, M. (2000). The role of geographic visualisation and knowledge discovery in spatio-temporal data modelling. Time in GIS: Issues in spatio-temporal modelling47, 13-26.



6 thoughts on “GVI’s and Trends in Education

  1. hi Chris
    ha! I remember the day I first used Google Earth and how I spent hours travelling the world!

    I think we also need to concentrate on the “risks” you labelled in the blue arrow diagram. I don’t want to sound like an old fuddyduddy but we’ve both seen (as parents and teachers) how digital morality is often very distinct from real world morality. Like you I am not a digital native. My parents enrolled me in computer programming (BASIC) classes in the mid-1980s. My brother is a software developer because of his passion (of course there were no software courses at uni and so he got 2 degrees in Maths). I believe there must be experiential lessons for everyone (digital tangata whenua and digital manuhiri) on how to use tech but also how to behave using tech. Let’s not be naive… all new things bring new risks…. I wonder if there was a similar issue when dictionaries were published and people just used them to look up dirty words?!?!

    Perhaps this is the much needed new ‘wisdom’ that must accompany the much celebrated new ‘knowledge’. If knowledge has changed to a verb, can our wisdom also become experiential, something discovered through guided experimentation, peer support and self reflection?


  2. I can only imagine the blessing that google earth is within the class! As a historian, digital technology has opened up a whole new world that has enabled our students to operate cooperatively within a global online community.
    Working online, I have challenged my students to analyse ancient river beds to try and discover ancient towns and cities (no success yet but there are great stories online).
    Likewise, knowledge collaboration also allows students to work on digitising New Zealand war service records. This allows my students to not only learn about the identities and personal experiences of soldiers, but also contributes to a global data base that the students feel a very real connection to.
    I know that you have challenged yourself around 3D imaging, how do you see this technology improving the educational outcomes of your students?


    • I see it as being able to improve a students ability to visualise patterns in 3 dimensions instead of two and thus understand the causes of geographical patterns more easily (without them having to create 3d maps in their heads. I am as yet unsure if this will raise attainment and my research has found precious little info on this. It seems for the most part 3D modelling or 3D printing are used to increase student awareness of new technologies and their applications; rather than to help them learn a particular idea or topic within a subject.


  3. Technology is improving all aspects of education. As a decile 6 school do you have issues with inequitable access to devices or internet at home? We have become much more reliant on devices at school, however, I often still have to print out the work for some students whose device is flat/broken/at home. How does your school get round this issue.


    • We don’t get round it. We have the same issue. We have invested in some lockers with charge points and I have had 10 new power points put in my classroom but the issue remains. Generally I get round it by providing a laptop from a small set we keep in our office but this is. It always possible.


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