Awareness is the number one issue for my role in both post-secondary and K-12 educational worlds (University and Canadian Geographic Education). Awareness has many facets – awareness of the technologies, the diversity of applications, the benefits of geospatial context and thinking – that have many implications, such as career choice, funding opportunities, and curricular priorities. I see increased awareness through a national organization addressing the following needs:
There are collaborations with other like-minded groups, along the lines of vertical (education) markets. For example, universities participate in national associations, such as the Canadian Association of Geographers, or the Canadian Remote Sensing Society. Teachers across the country are members of K-12 focussed organizations like Canadian Geographic Education. But I think within a national umbrella organization there are new opportunities and benefits to be found by reaching horizontally to better connect these educational silos. Post-secondary both influences, and is influenced by, the style, quality, and content of learning in K-12. Likewise, post-secondary informs and is informed by industry focus and direction, particularly with funding opportunities. There isn’t a clean boundary between learning at different levels, though we administer it as such. GeoAlliance has the potential to have members speaking together to realize the opportunities and benefits across the spectrum of learners and educational levels.
GeoAlliance would serve the broad membership well by embarking on a campaign to rival Canada’s Heritage Moments in bringing forth the strength and pervasiveness of our industry to the general public. This could be tied with resources for school (high school and early post-secondary) to showcase career opportunities and the power of spatial thinking in addressing complex and relevant societal and environmental issues.
I would like to see Ministries of Education representatives across the country become honorary GeoAlliance members. I would like to see the national post-secondary and K-12 education associations as members to allow their own active participants a voice on the national stage beside their industry, non-profit and government counterparts (eg. In geography education: CAG and CGE).
This has been a practice already, but I see a greater chance for strategic planning and resource sharing through a structured model like the GeoAlliance.
Lynn Moorman is an Associate Professor at Mount Royal University in the Departments of Earth and Environmental Sciences and General Education, and the Post-Secondary Representative at Canadian Geographic Education, Royal Canadian Geographical Society.