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Digital mapping option added to geography syllabus

UK: The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software that allows users to create digital maps ­has become part of national GCSE and A-level curriculums.

The decision was made to include the technology after the success of a hybrid GCSE course piloted in a handful of schools over the past two years that has a teacher-assessed GIS option forming 25 per cent of the final mark.

From this term all schools will have the option to use the software in geography lessons and fieldwork courses, and have that work contribute to students’ end-of-year evaluations.

At basic levels the software can be used to plot routes and map secondary sources of information, while at A-level it could be used as part of projects examining population migration or urban infrastructure.

All local education authorities are part of the Ordnance Survey service level agreement and can access large-scale digital maps of their area.

There are a growing number of GIS programs that schools can use, according to the Royal Geographic Society, which has details on its web site of the relative merits of different products.

While commercial GIS applications are complex and require specialists to implement, educational GIS software packages are much easier to use.

But some schools are being hampered in their use of GIS by a lack of access to IT resources, according to a recent study by Ordnance Survey.