capacity building, geospatial, GWF, education, training,

Building Geospatial Industry Capacity

Geospatial is big! The industry has a high growth profile according to the US Dept of Labour. GeoBusiness analysis showed continued steady growth, even during recent times of crisis and the prospects remain encouraging. But the industry cannot maintain its performance without building capacity in and strong connections to education and training. This was the theme of the workshop and sessions at the 2014 Geospatial World Forum. I attended the 2014 event to promote the GeoSkills Plus Project.

The greatest threats to the future of the geospatial industry are not economic or technological, I believe they are related to the low levels of geospatial awareness in political circles and especially among policy makers who are tasked with implementing education and training systems with the capacity and capability to meet the needs of society.

GeoSlills Plus Project

GeoSlills Plus Project

One of the most important but challenging elements of the 2014 Geospatial World Forum in Geneva was to establish agreed visions, a clear agenda with objectives around which networking between industry and institutions can be facilitated.

Emergent discourses will need to converge if we are to communicate a strong and unified message. Networking is required. Industry needs to meet education needs to meet policy makers. This involves consistently communicating shared visions, needs and concerns of the geospatial stakeholders into the political arena but also to define and offer genuine viable options. No forum exists at this time to do this. The geospatial sector is innovating at ever-increasing rates. The industry operates in a short-term perspective.

We should avoid a short-term focus on fixed-term 2 or 3-year projects so prevalent in institutions and business. I believe the time has come to scale-up our successful projects with the goal to integrate spatial literacy, spatial thinking and geospatial technologies into schools, colleges, higher education and initial and continuing forms of teacher training. Therefore we will need to wrestle with the most difficult challenges, namely how to work together in the political arena to get geospatial learning as a component vertically integrated into education and training structures.

To assist economic revitalization and stimulate growth, forecasters predict growing industrial demands for a workforce with geospatial information skills. Across our societies and cultures, citizens are being empowered by open sources of geo-data, but in the main they do not have the fundamental skills necessary to enable them to benefit from this emancipation. If we are to meet changing needs and stimulate further geospatial industry developments, we have to establish ways to influence policy makers so that they actively respond to this rapidly changing environment. It is significant that many politicians are not even aware the geospatial industry exists, most still think in terms of last century needs and technologies.

We need to have opportunities to think strategically, create dialogue, establish a broad picture of what capacity building needs to take place and confirm the long-term commitment of key stakeholders to unite, establish an infrastructure whereby regular collaborative action can occur in order to take these challenges forward.

Where is the forum for industry – education – policy to connect?  

We need a long-term project to engage all stakeholders.

ILN, together with other partners is planning some pan-European action in the future – contact us if you would like to be kept informed.

ge-media, spatial citizenship

Finland confirms: Geography and GIS essential in renewal of the core school curriculum

Does anyone doubt that Finland continues to give their youngsters the best education in the world?  Now they are introducing geographical studies throughout their core basic curriculum. This blog introduces the changes and suggests some aspects of geo- that have become so important in Finnish school education.

Finnish curriculum reform

Talking about curriculum reform

Finland has been reflecting on the aims of their education system and as a result is renewing their national core curriculum for basic education. The process has involved all stakeholders, particularly education providers, educators, parents and pupils and will be completed by the end of 2014. On the basis of this consultation, the Finnish Ministry of Education has just released statements about basic, core primary and secondary teaching.

These education leaders believe Geography and the use of geo-media must be central to a core curriculum in school education.

In a video Ms. Irmeli Halinen, Head of Curriculum Development at the Finnish National Board of Education, discusses the basic education curriculum reform in Finland and identifies key components involved in the change.

Geo-media (or geographic media) is an important new perspective, added as part of the core competences all pupils must develop. Geo-media is described as media that uses the spatial localisation of information, i.e. that uses geoinformation (GI). It includes all representations of space, covering a wide range of outputs from verbal description, multimedia to visualisation (Gryl and Jekel, 2012).

SPACIT, geo-media competences

Geo-media competences

Geo-media was first used as a term in the network project, which sought to elaborate on the potential offered by geo-technologies in school education in developing ICT, problem solving, critical analysis and other important competences. The project shared more than 3000 examples of geo-media through its activities and on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, @Twitter).

Since then a teacher training competence model and curriculum for introducing geo-media in classes has been developed by the Spatial Citizenship project. Now a teacher training course and materials are available for download from the Web site.

In Finland, teachers will prepare new local curricula based on this core curriculum by the beginning of school year 2016–2017.

Geocapabilities logo

GeoCapabilities Project

This approach connects closely with the goals of the GeoCapabilities Project, seeking to develop professional development and teacher training developing  teachers as leaders in curriculum change and where ‘capabilities’ rather than only competences are an important perspective.

So how should other countries respond?


Finnish school curriculum (in Finnish) - English versions will follow

Basic elements of curriculum reform: presentation

About Spatial Citizenship

Spatial Citizenship Project: Progress Report

Spatial citizenship competence Model


Gryl, Inga; Jekel, Thomas (2012). “Re-centering geoinformation in secondary education: Toward a spatial citizenship approach.“ Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization. 1 47: 18–28.

Further Reading

Carlos, Vânia; Gryl, Inga (2013): “Where do Critical Thinking and Spatial Citizenship meet? Proposing a framework of intersections.” In: Jekel, T., Car, A., Strobl, J. & Griesebner, G. (eds.): GI_Forum 2013, Berlin: 437-446.

Gryl, Inga; Jekel Thomas; Donert, Karl (2010), GI and Spatial Citizenship, , p2-12, In Jekel T, Donert K and Koller A (eds.) (2010), Learning with GeoInformation V, Berlin, Wichman Verlag

Gryl, Inga; Schulze, Uwe; Detlef, Kanwischer (2013):  “Spatial Citizenship. The concept of competence“, In: Jekel, T., Car, A., Strobl, J. & Griesebner, G. (eds.): GI_Forum 2013, Berlin: 282-293.

Gryl, Inga; Schulze, Uwe; Detlef, Kanwischer (2012), “Spatial Citizenship – Dimensions of a Curriculum“, In Jekel, T., Car, A., Strobl, J. & Griesebner, G. (Eds.) (2012): GI_Forum 2012: Geovizualisation, Society and Learning. Herbert Wichmann Verlag,



cloud computing, learning, teaching

The Future of Learning and Teaching in the Cloud

School on the Cloud (SoC) is a network project exploring the impact of Cloud computing on different aspects of education. Project partners interested at the ways the Cloud transforms learning and teaching meet in Porto between 7-10 November 2014 to share experiences and expertise in learning and teaching with the Cloud. The project has produced a ‘state-of-the-art’ assessment. The goal is now to develop and provide recommendations for European education authorities.Cloud computing, education, Digital Agenda

European policy like the Digital Agenda, Europe 2020 and the European Innovation Plan are committed to innovation and change. There are many drivers for this, notably with a forecasted European ICT skills gap of 15% between 2012 and 2020 which needs urgently to be closed. Europe must encourage innovative uses of technology to drive business and industry forward for ensuring the longer-term economic success in Europe. In order to do this innovation in learning and collaboration is vital, enabled by Cloud Computing.

Access to Cloud-based technologies is recognized as having mutual benefits for companies and public sector activities, they need a well-trained workforce able to cope with these developments. If they are to be well prepared to compete for the higher-skilled jobs demanded by today’s knowledge economy, young people must be able to tackle the use of 21st century Cloud Computing tools head on. Access to the Cloud in education will also provide the impetus to modernise educational institutions and strengthen their reputations, helping to improve quality and drive greater competitiveness. School on the Cloud is a new European ICT project that assesses the state of the art of Cloud Computing in education in different European countries. The network examines the potential of Cloud for schools, colleges, universities and other education agencies.

The 2011 European Commission ICT Cluster report “Learning, Innovation and ICT” commented on lessons learned through the Lifelong Learning Programme. They identified i) digital leadership, ii) placing the learner at the centre; iii) a change of mindset in teacher training and iv) reinforcing the evidence base and research on use and impact of ICT for learning as most important features.

Six future actions for the future of learning in Europe were recommended:

  • Leadership and institutional change for a renewed strategy on learning
  • Digital competences and new transversal skills as core life and employability skills
  • Towards a new learning paradigm
  • Professional development – the teacher as learner at the centre
  • Research on learning in a digital society
  • Envisioning the future of learning in a digital society

The four working groups organised under the School on Cloud network embrace all these areas. The meeting in Porto will concentrate on the innovative teacher (iTeacher) and the independent learner (iLearner). Outcomes include a state-of-the-art assessment as well as guidance and advice for those looking to use the Cloud for learning and teaching.

About School on the Cloud

School on the Cloud – Connecting Education to the Cloud for Digital Citizenship (SoC) is an ICT network. It explores new dynamic ways in education that align with the way we think, share, learn and collaborate, across various sectors, by exploiting the opportunities arising from the Cloud.

School on the Cloud has created a learning network consisting of 57 European partners from 18 countries, distributed widely across Europe and includes most types of educational stakeholder and all sectors of education. More specifically, there are 21 Universities and teacher training departments, 9 NGOs, 8 schools, SMEs, research institutes, adult education and VET providers, a European professional association and a library.

The coordinating organization is The Doukas School in Athens Greece The Network is funded by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Programme, Key Activity 3 – ICT Networks, with a duration of 3 years (01/01/2014 – 31/12/2016).

Join School on the Cloud on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and invite your friends and contacts.
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contact ILN for more information

geoskills, project, geospatial, GIS, digital

A manifesto for Europe: building geospatial capacity

The Geospatial World Forum developed as meetings of industry, policy makers and academics. It regularly attracted people from more than 100 countries and illustrated the maturity and diversity of the geospatial industry in Europe. A Transfer of Innovation Project called GeoSkills Plus is seeking to bridge the gap between the maturing industry and their labour force needs and the supply of qualified, well trained people.

GeoSlills Plus Project

GeoSlills Plus Project

According to Kadaster, there are more than 15,000 professionals currently working in the Netherlands and this figure is expected to grow by 20% in the coming 5 years (Foundation Labour Market and Geo Information). Eurogeographics confirm there are more than 100,000 mapping professionals in Europe. The sector is booming and in 2014 directly employs more than an estimated 550,000 people in Europe. However there is already a clear mismatch between workforce demand and supply.

In order to ensure its growth is not limited: we need policy developments that build a European education/training system with the capacity and capability to raise awareness of the geospatial sector, create a geospatially literate workforce and European citizens who can benefit from our developments.

Almost all aspects of our economy and society are based on geoinformation and geotechnologies. More than 80% of all information produced today has a geospatial component. Citizens are being empowered by geospatial technologies and geodata, not simply ICT. They are tracking, mapping and communicating geographically on an unprecedented scale. But most of them do not have the fundamental spatial skills to enable them to benefit from this new emancipation.

Leading industrialists should ask why it is that “geospatial” so rarely appears on the policy agenda. They should also be concerned and comment on its invisibility in the Digital Agenda for Europe.

We must have European policy that integrates our industry and research needs with policy and education if we are to meet changing industrial demands and stimulate further geospatial industry developments.

The European Commission should respond to these urgent needs and ensure the “geospatial workforce” becomes a high priority. We must increase education activities to produce the workforce we need now and for the future. The goal must be to integrate spatial literacy, spatial thinking and geospatial technologies into schools, colleges, higher education and initial and continuing forms of teacher training. Education and Training 2020 and specifically the Digital Agenda must develop a strong geospatial perspective which is developed through a regular, full and open discourse between industry, education and policy makers.