Why use GIS?

Initial Publication Date: November 21, 2005

Pedagogical Reasons:

  • Geoscience data often requires a spatial context for proper interpretation
  • Utilization of maps in the classroom can spark student interest and improve understanding of spatial concepts commonly found in the geosciences (see for example, Gutierrez et al. (2002)).
  • Modern computer-based GIS presents the ability to develop, analyze, and interpret multiple levels of spatial data, particularly traditional geological field data, in a quantitative way.
  • Map creation and quantitative interpretation skills are important for those who intend to pursue geoscience or other scientific careers
  • Quantitative and spatial analysis skills developed through the use of GIS in the classroom can also benefit for students as they participate in societal discussions of scientific matters.

Practical Reasons:

  • Utilizing GIS within the classroom can be done without high-level hardware/sofware
  • Numerous websites and vendors provide free and for-pay GIS data/mapping utilities
  • Shareware/freeware GIS software packages are available
  • Consumer-grade GPS units provide inexpensive means to collect spatial data during field trips