Creating an Interactive Web Map: A Service-Learning Project Aligned to the Geospatial Technology Competency Model

Creating an Interactive Web Map: A Service-Learning Project Aligned to the Geospatial Technology Competency Model

Lesli M. Rawlings (Wayne State College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9845-1.ch043
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Service-learning is a form of experiential learning that integrates curriculum objectives to address needs in the community. It also provides students with an opportunity to apply geospatial technology concepts in a real-world setting. This paper describes a service-learning project requiring students to create an interactive Google Map depicting historic buildings and artwork for the City of Wayne, Nebraska. Students create maps by using handheld GPS receivers and editing HTML and JavaScript. The objectives of this project align with several building blocks and critical work functions in the Geospatial Technology Competency Model (GTCM). This model, developed in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Labor, attempts to identify the knowledge and abilities needed in the geospatial industry workforce. In addition the methods, assessment, and challenges for developing and executing this project are described.
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2. Integrating Service-Learning And Geospatial Technologies

Service-learning is a form of experiential learning, where students apply concepts and skills learned in the classroom to address needs in the community. Volunteerism and service-learning both provide a service to the community, but only the latter is tied to course curriculum and assessment. It is anticipated that service-learning projects will build campus and community collaborations (Gilbert & Krygier, 2007) and prepare students for future civic involvement (Speck, 2001). Service-learning projects vary in geographic scale and cover a diversity of topics some of which include local history, social services, urban planning, public safety, and environmental assessment. The discipline of geography is a natural fit for service-learning endeavors because of its breadth and the vast opportunities for students to apply geospatial technologies on community projects (Bednarz et al., 2008; Buckingham-Hatfield, 1995; Schlossberg & Wyss, 2007).

Much research and debate has been devoted to the effectiveness of teaching methods involving lecture, audio-visual, discussion, demonstration, and experiential learning. Although lectures are an effective method for transmitting knowledge they are often seen as ineffective for stimulating interest in the subject matter (Bligh, 1998). Service-learning projects may enhance geographic education by stimulating student interest and bridging application and theory in a course. Furthermore, active learning through fieldwork may provide students with their most memorable classroom experiences (Hawthorne, 2011; Krakowka, 2012).

Service-learning projects have the potential to mutually benefit the communities, students, and faculty involved. The community, unaware of the inherent relationship between geospatial technology and geography, may expand their knowledge of geography curricula through campus-community mapping projects. Potential employers observe students in a positive light when they apply transferable vocational skills involving communication and collaboration to improve the community (Bednarz et al., 2008; Dorsey, 2001; Schlossberg & Wyss, 2007). In successful service-learning projects students grasp the relevance of course concepts when applying them to real-world situations (Krakowka, 2012; Schlossberg & Wyss, 2007). Faculty members benefit by engaging students in active learning and fulfill academic service obligations, which in turn may strengthen campus-community partnerships (Bednarz et al., 2008).

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