geography education meeting photo

GeoCapabilities Teacher Survey

I am working with EUROGEO on the EU-funded GeoCapabilities 2 Project. The European Association of Geographers is a core partner in this project.

GeoCapabilities 2 seeks to encourage high quality teaching about complex issues in geography. The focus for teachers is on sound content knowledge, pedagogic awareness and recognition of the needs of students they teach. The project focuses on the need for teachers to be effective ‘curriculum makers’. Subscribe to the GeoCapabilities Newsletter

As part of the project we are looking to to identify where Geography teachers go to for Geography support. Please complete and submit this form.

GeoCapabilities teacher survey

“Thinking geographically means to think and finally also to act from different perspectives.”

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.
Facebook Page:
Twitter Page:
LinkedIn Group:

contact ILN for more information

geoskills, geoskills plus project, geo-jobs, geography

Is Geo- really important?

Is geo- really important?

Why has President Obama put his name behind a $1 billion programme in the US?

Why are there plans to integrate geospatial education in every school in India? Indian National Task force in Geospatial Education

Why is geospatial compulsory in Finnish schools?

GeoSlills Plus Project

GeoSlills Plus Project

This post is about the GeoSkills Plus Blog, raising awareness of the education gap between the needs of the European geo-industry and education and training policy and perspectives. In 2011 EUROGEO estimated more than 50,000 geo-jobs remained unfilled across Europe (

Geo- is not recognised in Europe. The GeoSkills Plus Project tries to make a start on putting that right. It is an ambitious attempt to transfer innovation in geo-vocational training, geo-jobs and geo-skills development from one country (The Netherlands) to others around Europe. It is based on establishing a professional community in the geo-sector – something I have been working on for the past 10 years through innovative projects and networks like HERODOT (http://www.herodot .net) and geo-media for education (

geography, higher education, learning and teaching, quality

HERODOT network

The GeoSkills Plus Project is a Transfer of Innovation Project funded by the European Commission. The Project has its own GeoSkillsPlus Blog sharing news and ideas on geoskills and geo-jobs. You can register at

The challenge is to raise awareness of the importance of the geospatial sector in policy and among decision makers in education and training.  There is a greta need for quality education to feed the rapidly growing geospatial industry sector. Three areas need to be focused on: careers, skills and qualifications. Sign up for the GeoSkills blog and help us on social media to raise awareness of the issue.

So what are GeoSkills? Find out more at


Cloud computing, education

School on the Cloud: lessons from Digital Earth

It is commonly agreed that networking in education is important. This post reflects on some lessons learned from networks I have been involved in and looks to the future. It is based on a presentation I am making at the 2014 Scientix  conference in Brussels. It’s planned to be a networking meeting for projects, researchers and leaders in the field. It is hosted by the European Commission and European Schoolnet.

My presentation will reflect on the experiences learned from the  Scientix project, which networked more than 80 organisations involved in using Digital Earth technologies and geo-media in schools, teacher education and training.

It seems to be a real pity that such neworking opportunities for schools and teacher education have disappeared under the Erasmus Plus funding system. These networks generated so much innovation and built the capacity for change. They were able to gather ideas and initiatives from many different stakeholders.

My presentation will review the outcomes of the ambitious network, recently graded at 90% by evaluators from the European Commission and which received a Global Award for Capacity Building in education at the GeoSpatial World Forum in earth, geospatial, industry, geo-media

The project raised awareness of the explosion of science and technology opportunities, open data and open science developments. It highlighted learning and teaching perspectives and sought to scale up the implementation of innovative approaches through a Centre of Excellence approach. These outstanding organisations continue to be highly active in promoting geo-media and geotechnologies in their own contexts. Many spinoff projects and other innovative developments continue.

I will examine the legacy and subsequent developments taken forward by the School on the Cloud network: Connecting Education to the Cloud for Digital Citizenship. School on the Cloud (SoC)  is a KA3 ICT network aiming to explore new dynamic ways to integrate the Cloud into education.

Cloud computing, education, Digital Agenda

The goal of the network is to explore how to align education with the way we think, share, learn and collaborate, across various education sectors, by exploiting the opportunities arising from “Cloud” Computing environments.

SoC started with 57 Partners, most of whom are leaders in their educational sectors. They represent 18 European countries and include 10 Schools, 21 Universities, Companies, NGOs, National Authorities, Research Centres, Associations and Adult Education providers. School on the Cloud has undertaken a state-of-the-art survey and established 4 working groups to look at the prospects for management, teaching, learning and Cloud-based digital futures,

Scientix  conference programme - School on the Cloud -

geography, hellenic association, crisi, greece

Communicating the power of Geography in a time of crisis

Later this week I’ll be speaking at the 10th International Congress of the Hellenic Geographical Society, which will take place in Thessaloniki, Greece. The theme of the event is ‘Geography in an era of crisis’ and my presentation will seek to deal with Communicating the importance of Geography and geographers in an era of crisis. GeoSlills Plus Project

Crises have a spatial dimension and geography is really important when looking to understand the impacts and outcomes. As a result, many geographers are working in crisis management and risk mitigation, from natural hazards, humanitarian crises and impending issues like climate change.

My presentation will look at four main themes:

  1. Geography, Geographers, Crisis – a case for Geography and the work of geographers in times of crisis

    SPACIT, geo-media competences

    Geo-media competences

  2. Geography, Geographers, Futures - emergent themes and geo-perspectives 
  3. Geography Associations, Crisis  and Communications - the role of organisations 
  4. Communicating Geography and geographers  - who and how do we communicate Geography, innovative projects

It will be a great opportunity to showcase some of our exciting and innovative projects, like Spatial Citizenship, GeoCapabilities and GeoSkills Plus.Geocapabilities logo

Congress Web site - keynote presentation (29Mb)

spatial citizenship

Spatial Citizenship


SPACIT project logo

The term “urban jungle” has been used for some time to describe the environment created by the growth and development of our cities, the activities and infrastructures people produce. In the jungle, many youngsters have become dislocated from the environment in which they live, they do not have the skills to properly navigate the jungle or follow the laws of the jungle. I think this is because of the narrow curriculum (dominated by literacy, numeracy …….) delivered in our schools. Youngsters learn from the laws of the street, education has become external/marginal to their world. The Spatial Citizenship Project tries to redress this situation.

Young people need to be helped (through education) to understand, appreciate and relate more closely to the places they live in. We defined this in a recent article as ‘spatial citizenship’, whereby place, space, ownership and responsibility are interconnected. In the article we suggest that education needs to involve much more than classroom abstraction from the real world, it should be connected closely to learning in and about our world. So, all youngsters need a good “geographical” education to provide them with a real sense of place (including their place) in their community.

The availability of location-based technologies and open access to geoinformation affords an excellent opportunity to effectively integrate the real world with geo-media communicated through social networks into school education. It would also help students actively participate in the world they navigate. Yet such geotechnologies are used in less than 1% of schools. The paper and further research goes on to introduce some of the key concepts through which spatial citizenship could be addressed as a core area in the curriculum.

geo-media, spatial citizenship, education, Geography

Using geo-media

Living, surviving and competing in the jungle requires a deep understanding of the jungle! I suggest the riots that took place in London in 2011 (see were symptomatic of the marginalisation of important curriculum areas in teacher training and in schools, like geographical education. The delivery of Geography lessons by non-specialists, unaware of the importance of the meanings we attach to the places we inhabit and the relationships with the needs of citizens componds the issue. This needs to be addressed.

We need a broad. balanced education not one based almost entirely on literacy, numeracy, technology, SATs and PISA comparisons!! Forthcoming curriculum reforms will be an opportunity to make a difference….. but will the decision makers realise it?

Read more about spatial citizenship at: