Learning Geography with the G-Portal Digital Library

Learning Geography with the G-Portal Digital Library

Dion Hoe-Lian Goh (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-980-9.ch016
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Abstract

With the rapid growth of digital information, there is increasing recognition that digital libraries (DL) will play important roles in education, research, and work. DLs have correspondingly evolved from being static repositories of information, in which access is limited to searching and browsing, to those that offer a greater array of services for accessing, interacting and manipulating content (Agosti, Ferro, Frommholz, & Thiel, 2004; Goh, Fu, & Foo, 2002). Within the classroom environment, DLs have the potential to be useful tools for active learning in which activities are characterized by active engagement, problem-solving, inquiry, and collaboration with others, so that each student constructs meaning and hence knowledge of the information gained (Richardson, 1997). Consider, for example, a group of high school students working on a class project. Typical activities would require these students to acquire content from the teacher, gathering reference materials from the library or other sources, such as the Web, compiling and making sense of all the available information, synthesizing content, writing the project report and submitting the completed project for grading. Here, DL services could be designed to support these activities. An integrated work environment could allow students to collaboratively retrieve and store personal and group information objects relevant to the task at hand. Such a DL would therefore depart from the traditional role of facilitating access to digital content, and instead become an integral part of the learning process.
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Introduction

With the rapid growth of digital information, there is increasing recognition that digital libraries (DL) will play important roles in education, research, and work. DLs have correspondingly evolved from being static repositories of information, in which access is limited to searching and browsing, to those that offer a greater array of services for accessing, interacting and manipulating content (Agosti, Ferro, Frommholz, & Thiel, 2004; Goh, Fu, & Foo, 2002).

Within the classroom environment, DLs have the potential to be useful tools for active learning in which activities are characterized by active engagement, problem-solving, inquiry, and collaboration with others, so that each student constructs meaning and hence knowledge of the information gained (Richardson, 1997). Consider, for example, a group of high school students working on a class project. Typical activities would require these students to acquire content from the teacher, gathering reference materials from the library or other sources, such as the Web, compiling and making sense of all the available information, synthesizing content, writing the project report and submitting the completed project for grading. Here, DL services could be designed to support these activities. An integrated work environment could allow students to collaboratively retrieve and store personal and group information objects relevant to the task at hand. Such a DL would therefore depart from the traditional role of facilitating access to digital content, and instead become an integral part of the learning process.

While there is much work in making such DLs a reality, many systems still offer basic levels of support for educational services, and users typically encounter one or more of the following problems:

  • Content access is a separate task from other applications. Although advanced features for searching and browsing are available, DLs provide, at best, limited support for sharing content among other applications that support learning (Ancona, Frew, Janée, & Valentine, 2005). Exceptions are query and data dissemination services through protocols such as Z39.50 (Lynch, 1997) and OAI (Lagoze & Van de Sompel, 2001), but these are usually between other DLs instead of with integrated learning environments.

  • DLs are not designed to cater to the needs of different learning activities. Instead, they excel at tasks such as cataloging/classifying content and metadata, searching, and browsing. Thus, activities such as laboratory experiments and field studies that need to use the services of a DL must be tailored to its capabilities.

  • DLs are often not designed to meet the learning needs of individuals or groups. They are rather created as a generic collection of services for their target user populations. Support for groups within these target populations requiring specialized services or content are typically lacking.

  • Single-user delivery of information. In DLs, that support personalization, content is accessed and manipulated individually via personalized workspaces. One side effect of this feature is that users are often unable to share their findings with others. Thus, while individual learning can be supported, collaborative group-based learning is more difficult.

In the remainder of this chapter, we describe G-Portal, a DL of geospatial and georeferenced resources. G-Portal is designed to address the shortcomings previously mentioned to support collaborative learning among its users. This is achieved through personalized project spaces, in which individuals or groups gather and organize collections of resources drawn from the DL’s holdings that are relevant to specific learning tasks. In addition, G-Portal provides facilities for classification and visualization of resources, spatial searching, annotations and resource sharing across projects.

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G-Portal: An Overview

G-Portal is a Web-based DL that supports a variety of services to access, manipulate, and manage geospatial and georeferenced resources (Lim et al., 2002). The resources in G-Portal are primarily of metadata records that describe and point to actual resources, such as Web pages, images, and other Web-accessible objects. Other types of information managed by G-Portal include semi-structured data records and annotations.

Complete Chapter List

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Dedication
List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Foreword
Lou McGill
Acknowledgment
Chapter 1
Philip Rees, Louise Mackay, David Martin, Gráinne Conole, Hugh Davis
Technologies offer a range of tantalizing potentials for education—in terms of providing access to media- rich context and for students to visualize... Sample PDF
Developing E-Learning in Geography
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Chapter 2
Samuel Leung, David Martin, Richard Treves, Oliver Duke-Williams
In contrast to other Web-based resources, e-learning materials are not always exchangeable and shareable. Although transferring electronic documents... Sample PDF
Exchanging E-Learning Materials, Modules, and Students
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Chapter 3
Helen Durham, Katherine Arrell, David DiBiase
Collaborative learning activity design (CLAD) is a multi-institution approach to the creation of e-learning material from the design phase through... Sample PDF
Collaborative Learning Activity Design: Learning about the Global Positioning System
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Chapter 4
David Martin, Philip Rees, Helen Durham, Stephen A. Matthews
This chapter presents the development of a series of shared learning materials prepared to facilitate teaching in human geography. The principal... Sample PDF
Census and Population Analysis
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Chapter 5
Stephen Darby, Sally J. Priest, Karen Fill, Samuel Leung
In this chapter we outline the issues involved in developing, delivering, and evaluating a Level 2 undergraduate module in fluvial geomorphology.... Sample PDF
Using Digital Libraries to Support Undergraduate Learning in Geomorphology
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Chapter 6
Jim Wright, Michael J. Clark, Sally J. Priest, Rizwan Nawaz
There is an inherent antithesis between environmental management as professional practice and as concept or philosophy. Not only does this... Sample PDF
Engaging with Environmental Management: The Use of E-Learning for Motivation and Skills Enhancement
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Chapter 7
Louise Mackay, Samuel Leung, E. J. Milton
In our experience of earth observation (EO) online learning we highlight the usefulness of the World Wide Web in terms of its software... Sample PDF
Earth Observation: Conveying the Principles to Physical Geography Students
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Chapter 8
Helen Durham, Samuel Leung, David DiBiase
Academic integrity (AI) is of relevance across all academic disciplines, both from the perspective of the educator and the student. From the former... Sample PDF
Generic Learning Materials: Developing Academic Integrity in Your Students
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Chapter 9
Karen Fill, Gráinne Conole, Chris Bailey
The DialogPLUS Toolkit is a web-based application that guides the design of learning activities. Developed to support the project’s geographers, it... Sample PDF
A Toolkit to Guide the Design of Effective Learning Activities
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Chapter 10
David DiBiase, Mark Gahegan
This chapter investigates the problem of connecting advanced domain knowledge (from geography educators in this instance) with the strong pedagogic... Sample PDF
Concept Mapping to Design, Organize, and Explore Digital Learning Objects
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Chapter 11
Terence R. Smith, Marcia Lei Zeng
We describe a digital learning environment (DLE) organized around sets of concepts that represent a specific domain of knowledge. A prototype DLE... Sample PDF
Semantic Tools to Support the Construction and Use of Concept-Based Learning Spaces
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Chapter 12
Richard Treves
Teaching geography at university level involves students in study of complex diagrams and maps. These can be made easier to understand if split into... Sample PDF
Simple Geography-Related Multimedia
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Chapter 13
Karen Fill, Louise Mackay
This chapter is concerned with the evaluation of learning materials and activities developed as part of the DialogPLUS project. A range of... Sample PDF
Evaluating the Geography E-Learning Materials and Activities: Student and Staff Perspectives
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Chapter 14
Louise Mackay, David Martin, Philip Rees, Helen Durham
In this book we have illustrated the materials, software, and experience of developing and delivering geography e-learning courses and learning... Sample PDF
Reflections, Lessons Learnt, and Conclusions
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Chapter 15
Sally Priest
This chapter discusses the design, technical development, delivery, and evaluation of two online learning activities in environmental geography. A... Sample PDF
Online Learning Activities in Second Year Environmental Geography
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Chapter 16
Dion Hoe-Lian Goh
With the rapid growth of digital information, there is increasing recognition that digital libraries (DL) will play important roles in education... Sample PDF
Learning Geography with the G-Portal Digital Library
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Chapter 17
Shivanand Balram
This chapter describes the origins, boundaries, and structures of collaborative geographic information systems (CGIS). A working definition is... Sample PDF
Collaborative Geographic Information Systems: Origins, Boundaries, and Structures
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Glossary of Terms
About the Contributors