Make it real: Designing authentic online GIS learning for a K12 audience
Abstract: Geographic knowledge and spatial thinking skills are key in today’s globally interdependent world. New tools and models are needed, however, to guide teachers and learners alike through the process of geographic inquiry using new technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS). EarthXplorers is a new online learning environment that integrates a GIS platform and takes an inquiry- and project-based approach to learning GIS. This environment uses U.S. historical sites of significance tied to contemporary issues to advance spatial thinking and geographic inquiry skills. Our study explores teacher and student engagement with EarthXplorers as it examines how geographic inquiry, spatial thinking, and creative problem-solving skills are impacted by engagement with an online learning environment centered on GIS learning using real-world examples.