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GIS in the Classroom: A New Zealand Experience

IRGEE Volume 15, Number 3, ISSN 1038-2046


This article begins by describing the use of GIS at a local scale within a single school, and builds outwards to review the use of GIS in the contexts of national classrooms. The single school is Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland. It is an independent girls' school for Years 1-13, well resourced with IT staff, computer hardware and software. Students in Years 8-11 each have their own laptop computer with a variety of software, including ESRI's ArcVoyager and ArcView 3.2, for which the school has a site licence. In 2005 almost all students in Years 8-10 Social Studies and Years 11-13 Geography classes at Diocesan used GIS at some point. Two Year 12 History classes also made use of GIS. About one-third of all the girls in the school used GIS. In New Zealand GIS has so far been mainly utilised by geography teachers. Often older and experienced, these teachers see the potential of GIS with the implementation of a new qualifications system. This system offers a significant number of credits for internally assessed coursework, and there is opportunity for students to use GIS and gain credits for their work. However, in working with young (student and beginning) teachers over the last few years, the author has found that many are often reluctant users of GIS. In most cases this was because they had not enjoyed the GIS component of a university course. So, for teachers to use GIS effectively with students, a product that is simple to use and low cost is required as financial constraints on school budgets are tight. The author expects the uptake of GIS in schools in New Zealand will continue to grow, but slowly. Teachers require ready-to-use resources while they establish the technology in their programmes. Ongoing training and support are needed, probably by other geography teachers who know the realities of using GIS as a teaching and learning tool in the classroom.


Brodie, S. (2006). GIS in the Classroom: A New Zealand Experience. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 15(3), 271-273. Retrieved September 29, 2020 from .

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