Digital maps for learning: a review and prospects

Jones, Ann; Blake, Canan; Davies, Clare and Scanlon, Eileen (2004). Digital maps for learning: a review and prospects. Computers and Education, 43(1-2) pp. 91–107.



Over the last 10 years there has been a rapid increase in the development and use of digital maps for teaching and learning in Higher Education. There is also a political drive to encourage and foster best practice in this area. This is part of a more general initiative on fostering the development and demonstrating the impact of the use of digital resources in education, as evidenced by recent funding programmes by JISC 1 in the UK and NSF 2 in the US. This paper presents and discusses the evaluation of digital resources to support the use of digital maps for learning. First it reviews the use of digital maps for learning, outlining the features that make them powerful tools, before then considering the more general literature on learners’ use of maps which suggests that although they have great potential, the use of digital maps by learners may not be straightforward. The paper then discusses a project called ‘e-MapScholar’, which was funded by JISC 3. The ‘e-MapScholar’ project has been developing tools and learning and teaching materials to enhance and support the use of geo-spatial data currently available within tertiary education, including digital map data. The project includes teaching case studies of how such resources can be used and have been used in practice. The e-MapScholar project serves to illustrate the possibilities of learning with digital maps and the challenge of delivering on this possibility. The final two sections of the paper discuss the outcomes of the e-MapScholar evaluation and conclude with prospects for the use of digital maps in education.

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