Geospatial Information System(GIS) in Education : A Critical Review


Geospatial Information System ( GIS ) is one of the most important contributions modern technologies. Geospatial perspective serves a prospective and powerful visual dimension to data through maps facilitating communication and discourse among different stakeholders. By locating data in the context of place, issues become more familiar and understandable to those who may not have experience in data analysis. GIS tools, in a plain description, enable to create thematic maps based on data stored in a spreadsheet or database. Data may be linked to a number of ways such as area e.g., country, line e.g., roads, rivers etc and point e.g., address; it may also be represented as charts and graphics. Functionally, GIS is a dynamic process allowing the data and map being automatically updated. It allows the user to visualise and analyse spatial information in novel ways that reveals previously hidden relationships patterns and trends. In the swiftly transforming modern technology, GIS is considered as the heart of all modern spatial decision making which may be a identifying a location, public service, planning or environmental planning. However, despite its potential important roles in the government, society and decision making, a negligible impact on education has been witnessed till date  (Wiegand, 2001), though its application in schools and universities has already been witnessed a progressive development though in a low speed.

GIS were originally developed for scientific land management purposes in Canada during the 1960s during which Canada Geographic Information System was established for the collection and analysis of land use data and the production of statistics for land use management plan (Johnson and Pellikka, 2005). Since then, GIS has been typically used as a technologically advanced tool to provide potentially highly significance of the progress in presentation, preparation and flexibility to microplanning to justify the benefits (Hite, 2008).

GIS uses specialized software that integrates spatial data (e.g., geo-referenced coordinates such as latitude and longitude) and non-spatial data to produce geographic maps. Smith et al, (1987) opines that GIS is a database system in which the data are spatially indexed with a set of procedure in operation to answer queries about spatial entities in the database. Aronoff (1989) described GIS as a computer system capable of assembling, storing, manipulating and displaying geographically referenced data i.e. data identified according to their locations. According to the definition given by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), California (1990), GIS is defined as an ‘organized collection of computer hardware, software and personnel to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyse and display all forms of geographically referenced information’

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