Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

QTIMaps: A Model to Enable Web Maps in Assessment

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

QTIMaps: A Model to Enable Web Maps in Assessment

Article excerpt

Introduction

E-Assessment approaches exploit interactive technologies to support and enhance educational assessment (Conole & Warburton, 2005). Nowadays it is widely accepted that assessment processes, as integral part of education, should support a variety of skills including general and subject matter abilities (Bennet, 1998). The European Qualifications Framework define skill as 'the ability to apply knowledge and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems. Skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) or practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).' Based on Bloom's Taxonomy (1956) there are six levels of skills complexity that go beyond knowledge, i.e., comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. We address the problem occurring when some skills are included in the educational curriculum but the methods to assess them are not appropriate (Bennet, 1993; Boyle, 2009).

This paper focuses on spatial or geographic information, its representation and related skills. Spatial thinking, one form of thinking, is a collection of cognitive skills, according to the committee of the American National Research Council that has analyzed the incorporation of Geographic Information Science across the K-12 curriculum. The skills consist of declarative and perceptual knowledge and some cognitive operations to transform, combine, or otherwise operate on this knowledge. The key to spatial thinking is a constructive amalgam of three elements: concepts of space, tools of representation, and processes of reasoning, and these elements are present in the K-12 curriculum of most countries. For example, the Spanish curriculum states that secondary education learners should be able to"identify, localize and analyze geographical elements at different scales" and "search, select, understand and relate (...) cartographic information from different sources: books, media, information technologies" (Spanish Government, 2006). Learners should also be capable of understanding processes and how humans influence the environment.

Maps have been the main representation of geographic information for centuries. Information technologies provide useful tools enhancing traditional maps in terms of interactivity and ease of modeling spatial processes. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) support the generation of maps from spatial information, but moreover its analysis (finding patterns in geo-referenced data, for instance) and modeling (such as how the environment will evolve). A GIS should be able to answer the five questions formulated by Rhind (1992), and reflected in Table 1.

Nevertheless, GIS's are still mainly oriented to professionals and are difficult to use by the general public, and in particular by K-12 teachers and students, while web maps also enhance traditional maps providing more interaction possibilities. Google Maps is the most popular web map application, offering a world-wide cartography including street-level information for many countries as well as satellite/aerial images at different resolutions. While Yahoo Maps and Bing Maps, are products of Yahoo! and Microsoft with features similar to those of Google Maps, other web maps are compliant with international standards and can show information from Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs). An SDI is an infrastructure for sharing geographic information (and meta-information) in a standard way. SDIs are usually created and maintained by public organizations that publish a large amount of geographic information on different topics, such as environment, economy, demography or climatology that can be very valuable in education.

Apart from allowing to access this huge information, web maps enable the combination of different information sources in a single map, and allow the user to identify and draw elements on the map. From the five questions formulated by Rhind, web maps completely support monitoring and inventory, while analysis and modeling only partially. …

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