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GIS and Geographic Inquiry

world_map“Geospatial” technologies–which include geographic information system (GIS), global positioning system (GPS), and remote sensing (RS) tools–are becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives. These technologies use “smart” maps that can display, query, and analyze geographic databases; receivers that provide location and navigation; and global-to-local imagery and tools that provide context and analysis.

As these tools become vital to helping community leaders ask and answer questions with both local and global implications, the ability to think spatially is an increasingly important skill for students. Hundreds of jobs–in such areas as planning, law enforcement, environmental management, business, public safety, health, and agriculture–now require key geographic inquiry skills.

Though GIS technology appears in the National Geography Standards, teachers in earth, environmental, biological, and general science also are incorporating geospatial technologies into their lessons. The growing use of these tools in an array of social studies and STEM subjects supports authentic, problem-based instruction, helping students tackle real social and environmental research projects in their communities.

School leaders, too, are using geospatial technologies to help with their planning and decision making. These tools can help districts make more informed decisions related to facilities planning, student transportation, school safety, and more.

With the generous financial support of ESRI, the editors of eSchool News have compiled this special collection of news stories, best practices, and other resources–all designed to help you integrate GIS and other geospatial technologies into your classrooms and district offices.–The Editors