August 01,2002 South Australia next year will become the first state to test Year 11 students’ computer mapping skills. The main teachers’ union is concerned some schools will not have sufficient resources for students to learn the new technology.
Students will have to be able to generate and manipulate a map on the computer – a practice known as geographical information systems, or GIS. SA Geography Teachers Association vice-president Malcolm McInerney said the degree of GIS use by students would be up to individual schools. For those schools that could not afford the $500 software packages, the mapping system could be learned free via the Internet.
GIS involves the use of computers to enter information and to produce maps to solve a problem. The focus is coming up with a spatial problem like where are things and then to map that and talk about why they are there. That’s what geographers have done for years but the difference is kids have now got an elaborate tool to do it with.