GISS and GISP Facilitate Higher Education and Cooperative Learning Design

GISS and GISP Facilitate Higher Education and Cooperative Learning Design

Gilbert Ahamer (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4458-8.ch001


International cooperation in higher education management has successfully expanded on Geographic Information Science and Systems (here named GISS, for the “space of places”), which facilitates the exchange of worldviews among learners. On a general level, after clarification of the notions of “design,” “pedagogy,” “GIS,” and “path dependency,” the potential for self-organized Web-supported learning is explored. Global socio-economic trends in land-use, energy, and economy (i.e., collective evolutionary learning) serve to provide lessons for individual learning procedures. Path dependency is a concept used both in economics and education management. This chapter suggests using a collaborative, dialogic learning structure that allows learners to act on several layers of reality simultaneously: the cognitive, discoursive, social, interactive, and integrative. Strategies for graphic notation of social procedures within “social spaces” are suggested. Graphical Information on Social Procedures (here named GISP, for the “space of flows”) should facilitate the design of online courses and blended learning courses because it allows for analyzing the interplay of different horizons and layers of human interaction. To sum up, this chapter uses several analogies from global socio-economic trends in order to describe the highly complex challenges and opportunities for auto-adaptive online pedagogy and the design of higher education that leads towards the dynamic self-responsibility of learners.
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Main Concepts

What Does “Design” Mean?

This article concentrates on the “design of procedures”, more specifically on the design of learning procedures, pertaining either to (1) societal or to (2) individual learning.

Learning design or course design, in this sense, suitably triggers social procedures in the group of learners that optimally induce them to actually change their real-world behavior – which is ultimately the objective of any learning activity. Learning design hence means the design of procedural social rules for learners; it means also “rule design.”

What Could be “Education”?

In an idealist sense, education management and pedagogy could mean designing the framework conditions for personal development in such a way that a human being feels encouraged to effectively walk his or her own path to develop his or her own potential. Education and pedagogy can mean gardening, i.e. integratively caring for growth processes.

Online pedagogy, in this sense, opens the pathway for learners to (1) retrieve sufficient information, sufficiently well organized to function as travelling supply and to (2) be guided sufficiently well on a path to solve one’s own real-life problems without compromising the development of one’s own orientational responsibility. The notion of “self-adaptive learning” (Atif et al., 2003) describes such an equilibrium between self-regulation and outside regulation in learners.

What Roles do “GIS” Play?

This abbreviation’s usual meaning is “Geographic Information Sciences and Systems” (GISS), but for the sake of this paper, a second meaning will be introduced later: “Graphical Information on Social Procedures” (GISP). This duplication takes account of the dual space of places and the space of flows as conceptualized by Manuel Castells (2001, cf. Ahamer & Strobl, 2010: 13).

The Objective: Sustainability in Education and Practice

The ultimate goal of this paper is to support the design of (Web-supported) education in such a way that it produces sustainable, i.e. reliable, long-lasting, equilibrated, and consensus-based abilities & actions in learners. The objective of sustainability comprises not only (1) ecological, but also (2) economic and (3) social durability of values and hence protection of human resource investments.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Long-Term Trends: Are dynamic patterns in the development of large, complex systems, e.g. economies or populations. The annual rates of change of suitably chosen parameters are thought to obey understandable mathematical laws.

Jet Principle: Means that a pedagogical process is enhanced by a well-defined system of rules along which learners are encouraged to embark on dialogs with the target of critically reflecting one’s own views and better understanding those of others.

Online Course Design: Is the structure of content and procedures in a webWeb-based learning system. The content is ordered along logical design and the actions of learners navigating within are guided by procedural design.

GIS: According to common usage, a Geographic Information System (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data. The similar term Geographic Information Science includes the theoretical fundaments of GIS, such as are provided by the new interfaculty department at Salzburg University ( and its UNIGIS curriculum.

Sustainable Education: Means finding long-lasting solutions through education, namely with regard to social, environmental, and economic issues – the three pillars of sustainability.

Path Dependence: Means that a system’s state depends on the previous states of this system. As an example, the social appearance of a country depends on the social events that took place in its history. Or, the understanding of a traveler depends on the adventures s/he has encountered so far.

Pedagogy: Is the science and art of education. This article suggests a “gardening” approach, similar to kindergartens) where assets of learners can grow advantageously in a dialogic framework provided by trainers.

Societal Evolution: In this article means the development of not only population numbers or the mere economic level (e.g. Gross National Product GNP), but also the generation of societal structures, institutions and cultures in such a way that civilization is fostered.

Social Structures Design: Means that a society gives itself a system of rules, procedures, and institutions that allows the solving of legal, economic, and cultural issues advantageously.

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