Friday, February 1, 2013

GIS in our Classroom: Anthropology




Courtesy of: WC Anthropology Department

     Between AD 800 and AD 1100, the Vikings were a force of expansion from their native Scandinavian homelands eastward to Russia and westward to present day Newfoundland. In my GRW* course about the Vikings, students work with GoogleEarth to develop interactive digital tours that trace the historical, technological, and cultural influences the Vikings had on the nations they encountered across northern Europe and the North Atlantic.
     Each student chooses a different topic area and creates “stops” or points of interest, relating specifically to that topic. Each stop conveys detailed information about the location in a paragraph fashion, rather like an Encyclopedia Brittanica entry, providing accurate, informative, and interesting information that can be easily understood by someone who has not had any exposure to Viking history and culture. 

     The GIS Lab conducts instructional workshops to get the students oriented with GoogleEarth and to answer questions and provide technical assistance as needed, as students invariably run into "snags" as they produce their files. The completed tours can easily be uploaded to the internet for educational purposes. Additionally, many fields that our WC students will move into upon graduation may not require them to write papers or reports but will expect them to communicate their ideas effectively to an audience and to support these ideas with data. GoogleEarth tours provide an innovative alternative avenue for communicating research and analysis.

    *GRW seminars invite students into the scholarly conversation at Washington College by introducing them to the process of academic writing and research. Global Perspectives seminars, a required first-year course, offer students a range of courses that encourage thinking beyond national boundaries.
[From the GRW website: http://www.washcoll.edu/departments/writing-across-the-curriculum/global-research-and-writing-seminar.php]

-Dr. Julie Markin
Global Perspectives Teaching Fellow
Anthropology

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