Sunday, February 26, 2012

TwiST -- Just Like This

(Apologies to Chubby Checker)

As I recently posted, this morning I had the privilege of participating with a remarkable group of colleagues on a panel discussing geography as a Diversity Discipline. Amy Work, for example, is both GIS Analyst and Education Coordinator at a fascination organization at Cayuga Community College, known as The Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology (IAGT).

In particular, she described a summer program known as the Teaching with Spatial Technology Workshop, or TwiST, in which 50 to 100 people from many parts of the world and many professions come together for an intensive, week-long program in which they learn basics of geotechnologies such as global positioning systems (see our GPS article on EarthView) and geographic information systems (GIS).

The varied participants include faculty members from many disciplines on the community-college campus with which IAGT is affiliated. This has helped to create real foment about geography in general and geotechnologies in particular, among teachers -- and even administrators -- from many fields. The college library now maintains a collection of GPS units, for example, in part so that students in an art class can compare their freehand sketches of outdoor spaces with drawing based on GPS waypoints.

Some other fascinating examples really illustrate the diverse applications of geographic thinking in general, and geographic technical tools in particular. An professor of English, for example, who takes students on literary tours of London was able to replace her cumbersome collection of paper-based materials with and iPod-based map containing articles about each site on the tour. (Yes, I'm already thinking about how to do this for my annual Nicaragua tour!) Other examples abound, from criminal justice to resource conservation.

I am further inspired and look forward to a time in the near future when my own department could have the capacity to support this kind of interdisciplinary professional development for our campus and region. IAGT has created a model to which we can aspire.

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