The viability of an Interactive Geographic Information System Tutor (I–GIS–T) application within the FET phase
Fleischmann, Elfrieda Marie-Louise
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When comparing numerous educational advantages of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with the slow integration of GIS practice within education globally, results are confounding. This paradoxical development is also found within South Africa. In fact, GIS has been included in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase by the Department of Basic Education (DoBE) since 2006. However, following the same global trend, curriculum development in South Africa has outpaced educational GIS software research. In addition, the e-learning White paper of SA also urges software development. Barriers hindering GIS practice include the lack of suitable curriculum-aligned GIS software within the South African digital divide context. A need therefore exists for further research regarding educational GIS practice applications within South Africa. Bearing this in mind, a case study was done investigating the viability of an educationally orientated Interactive-GIS-Tutor (I-GIS-T) application within FET phase in Geography. The study was conducted with the grade 11 Geography learners of a secondary school in a rural area of KwaZulu-Natal, as well as with their Geography teacher and two other Geography teachers of the same school. These three teachers have different ICT/GIS abilities and years of teaching experience. Furthermore, the study aimed to identify the main GIS educational barriers, globally and locally, as well as to investigate the viability of the I-GIS-T in relation to these identified barriers. The strategy followed was a case study evaluation, with a qualitative approach to data collection and analysis, supported by quantitative data, since this was most suited to the research questions and context. Pragmatism was therefore the underpinning philosophy within this case study. One-on-one semi-structured teacher interviews were conducted to identify the main barriers of GIS education within the FET phases. Data collection by means of questionnaires, individual interviews, focus group interviews, video recordings and field notes provided a thick description regarding the viability of the I-GIS-T within the natural class setting. ATLAS.tiTM and SPSS software were utilised with analysis of qualitative and supportive quantitative data. Attitudinal tests provided supportive quantitative data. Findings indicated that main GIS practice barriers, globally as well as in the school of study, were the lack of preparation time, a full curriculum, lack of GIS support, complex educational GIS software and the teacher‟s lack of ICT skills. The grade 11 Geography teacher and most of the learners evaluated the I-GIS-T as workable. The I-GIS-T also surmounted the main GIS practice barriers. Furthermore, GIS attitudinal tests revealed an overall positive shift on all the attitudinal questions. The combination of lack of basic computer skills and language (where English is not the mother tongue) were the main reasons why some learners suggested that they struggled with the software. Future I-GIS-T development recommended incorporation of a multi-language choice component, as well as exploratory activities. Within this case study, learners who have mastered basic computer skills found the I-GIS-T effective and workable and therefore a viable GIS software application option within the FET phase Geography. In order to be able to generalise statistically, further quantitative research is suggested. In fact, future quantitative research, employing SEM (Structural Equation Modeling) within the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) might prove the I-GIS-T to be a viable option within FET schools throughout SA, as well as in other developing countries.
- Education