The Functionality of a Geography Information System (GIS) Technology in Geography Teaching: Application of a Sample Lesson

Article excerpt

Abstract

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a high performance computer-aided chain of software which enables us to understand, interpret, capture, update, map, and display natural and human-originated events on Earth and allows us to bring out such phenomena in a form of synthesis. Th erefore, a GIS is an important information system in which graphical and non-graphical information, which are based upon spatial observations, are accumulated, saved, processed, and presented to the users in unity. A GIS is known to be one of the devices employed in the application of spatial analysis of geography, a scientific field that makes an analysis of the reciprocal interaction between human and the natural environment in a sustainable framework. It does not seem to be very easy to draw as much benefit as would be expected from a geography lesson in which no atmosphere of sharing and discussing is available for students, memorization is given a good deal of emphasis and only the descriptive aspect of geography is laid emphasis upon. However, a geography lesson supplied with a GIS appears to make it possible for students to access whatever information is being sought at the desired level. It also off ers some very good advantages to not only students but also to teachers who may still be teaching geography in the conventional way. It is also possible to feed into a GIS every single device, numerical data, technical knowledge, and equipment used in geography teaching, as well as analysis or application of all this stuff . Th erefore, if functionality of a GIS can be increased through the incorporation of various programs into it, the teaching of geography may well be easier and more productive. Besides, the enthusiasm of students for learning geography could be furthered even more, thus maximizing the level of the benefit to be drawn from teaching geography. Th e present study aims to encourage teaching geography with the help of a GIS in not only secondary and high schools but also in universities. With this in mind, a sample lesson on "Internal Migration" was presented. Th e method used in this lesson was based upon the contributions that a GIS could make to the teaching of this geography lesson so that the eff iciency of a GIS in learning geography could be appreciated.

Key Words

Geographic Information System (GIS), Migration, Geography Teaching, Human Geography.

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is an applied system employed by various disciplines. It keeps stimulating interest among individuals as well as institutions and organizations that are interested in spatial information worldwide. Th is system is also widely used in the business world with a view to providing new ideas and devising new methods of practice thanks to the benefi ts made available by a GIS in consideration of new developments. A GIS is a scientifi c term that incorporates all existing spatial knowledge systems, in addition to studying geographic knowledge. Whereas it is considered to be a computerbased tool that helps digitalize spatial knowledge by some, it may be considered a database management system that aids organization by some others. All these taken into account, the most general defi nition of a GIS would be like "a GIS is a broad knowledge system that is capable of performing such functions as collecting, storing, processing not only graphic but also non-graphic data and then presenting it to prospective users" (http://www.cografya.gen.tr: What is Geography Information Systems (Cbs/Gis): 15. 08. 2009). Furthermore, a GIS may be regarded as a tool to be made use of in helping improve such aptitudes of students as thinking skills, ability to make analysis of available data, problem solving ability, ability to access geographic data with ease, as well as geographical inquisitiveness (Kerski, 2000 cited in sahin, & Gençtürk, 2007, p. 193). Yet, another defi nition is one that takes a GIS as a system in which all types of spatial data is fi rst evaluated and then fed into the computer through digitalization (Turoglu, 2000). …