University of Tasmania
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Early adopters of geospatial technologies for teaching geography in Australian secondary schools

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:40 authored by Bianca ColemanBianca Coleman
This research examined the use of geospatial technologies in secondary geography education in Australian secondary schools (students aged 13-18 years). Geospatial technologies (GST) are hardware and software used to collect and analyse geospatial (geographical) data and include geographical information systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and remote sensing. The use of these technologies for geography education has been incorporated into the recently developed Australian Curriculum: Geography (Years 7-10) curriculum framework. Despite their inclusion in the curriculum, however, existing research continues to report low levels of GST adoption by teachers. This research investigated the experiences of 'early adopters' of geospatial technologies teaching in Australian schools. As teachers who have adopted the technologies prior to most of their peers, early adopters are well placed to identify challenges and opportunities that stem from the use of GST in geography teaching. Accordingly, this study examined the characteristics of early adopters of GST (such as their knowledge, confidence and experience for teaching with GST), the influence of context on their use of GST, and the ways in which they employ GST to enhance their geography teaching. Furthermore, this study identified the mechanisms through which these early adopters support and encourage their peers to also adopt the technology within their own practices. A quantitatively-driven mixed-methods research design was employed to collect and analyse data. An initial survey collected data from 53 Australian secondary geography teachers about their technological, pedagogical and content knowledge for teaching with GST. Follow-up semi-structured interviews with eight of these early adopters were also conducted and 'teaching artefacts' (such as lesson and unit plans, worksheets and de-identified student work samples) were collected. Statistical analyses (t-tests and descriptive statistics) and thematic interview analysis revealed that early adopters are highly knowledgeable in their geographical knowledge, their capacity to teach geography and their understanding of how geospatial technologies can be embedded within geography teaching. These teachers identified a range of micro-, meso- and macro-level context conditions that influence (both constrain and enable) their GST teaching practices. Analysis of the teachers' lesson plans and student work samples revealed how the skilful and purposeful application of GST in teaching can engage students in higher-order thinking and develop their geography knowledge. Finally, this study also concluded that early adopters encourage the widespread diffusion of geospatial technologies amongst other geography teachers by experimenting with and sharing resources, providing for professional learning opportunities and exercising curriculum leadership in schools.


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