From The Pennsylvania Geographer 32 (Spring/Summer 1994): 1-25. Copyright 1994 The Pennsylvania Geographer. Used with permission.
Department of Geography, University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1098, Phone: (512) 471-5116, FAX: (512) 471-5049
The Geographer's Craft is in its second year of development and, as it continues, conventional class materials will be converted into hypermedia modules comprising an "electronic" textbook comprised of on-line text, maps, diagrams, photographs, video, and sound. Gradual development of these hypermedia materials is fundamental to The Geographer's Craft as a means of enriching student experience and encouraging independent thought and problem solving skills. When these hypermedia materials are complete, the Geographer's Craft will introduce all geography majors to the latest research techniques, provide a means for non-majors to gain background in valuable geographical skills that complement their studies in other disciplines, and prepare students for upper-division study in particular subdisciplines and a carefully integrated set of advanced courses in geographical techniques.
This point can be made more clearly by considering the curricular changes from the viewpoint of the student. In a 120-hour bachelors program, most geography programs stipulate thirty to thirty-six credit- hours in the major, of which six to nine hours are reserved for courses in geographical techniques. In most programs, these two or three classes will be selected from a menu of three-hour courses including-- usually at a minimum--map interpretation, cartography, field techniques, spatial statistics, remote sensing, and GIS ( figure 1 ) . Given this menu of courses, students are already forced to make unnecessarily difficult choices, in at least three ways. First, majors seeking to gain an overview of the latest techniques--but with only six to nine credits to invest--will never gain a comprehensive, integrated introduction to all techniques. Each of the two to three courses that these students will take will stress a single analytical technique. Second, students truly interested in developing facility with the full range of techniques find they must invest at least half their credit hours in such courses, either by slighting their training in the systematic subdisciplines or by incurring the penalty of amassing course credits beyond the requirements of the major. Third, minors and non-majors find an extensive, but specialized inventory of courses similarly unwieldy. Many students from the natural and social sciences minor in geography to gain analytic skills in cartography, remote sensing, and GIS because of the value such skills have in disciplines from archeology to zoology. These students are simply not able to invest the credit-hours necessary to develop a comprehensive knowledge of valuable geographical techniques, they are forced to sample a few specialized courses. Nyerges and Chrisman (1989, 286) have noted that "meeting the prerequisites for integrating the communication and analytical approaches to cartography [alone] could take many more years than the typical student has available." The expansion of the techniques curriculum means that this is no longer a problem confined to cartography. Increasingly, curricula are presenting majors and minors with unrealistic choices. Perhaps the time has come to rethink the place of geographical techniques within the undergraduate curriculum in a way that attends to the ideals of the liberal arts education and is attuned to the varying interests and needs of college students of both generalist and specialist inclination.
This crest of the "add-on" wave is just reaching many geography programs. Proposals are being made, in some cases, to develop the range of techniques courses diagrammed in figure 2. This is, of course, a composite of several proposals but, in some respects, is coming to viewed as a sort of ideal curriculum. Jenks (1987) has suggested, for example, that training in cartography follow a four-course sequence including: 1) map use and appreciation; 2) visualization and planning of thematic maps; 3) map symbolization and compilation; and 4) map composition, supplemented by eight other related technical courses. Nyerges and Chrisman have outlined a solution involving six undergraduate and five graduate courses (Nyerges and Chrisman 1989). Indeed, this add-on process has been encouraged by the Core Curriculum in Geographic Information Systems published by the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (Goodchild and Kemp 1990). The GIS Core Curriculum outlines a two or three-semester course, best supplemented with additional courses in cartography, spatial statistics, remote sensing, database design, programming languages, and computer graphics. The GIS Core Curriculum provides a model of education and a set of excellent teaching materials that have accelerated the widespread adoption of this important technology. But the question that needs to be raised is what comes next: What is the next step beyond the GIS Core Curriculum? Curricula as portrayed in figure 2 can be attained by only some of the largestgeography departments were staffing is adequate to cover such a range of courses. But is this really the best way to integrate techniques training into the liberal arts curriculum?
The Geographer's Craft project takes the position that, although technical specialization and proficiency are essential to the advance of the discipline, concomitant emphasis must be placed on integrating these new geographical techniques into the mainstream of undergraduate education. Recent debate has concentrated too much on GIS and inadvertently overlooked the broader challenges to the curriculum--and the discipline--posed by information technologies. It may be better to think in terms developing students' analytical reasoning skills in ways that allow them to frame challenging research problems and envision simultaneously the analysis of such problems in terms of appropriate techniques and methods. Only through the integration and synthesis of techniques will students develop the intellectual dexterity needed to approach research problems with the appropriate technical tools, whatever they may be labeled. There is great demand for the conceptual and technical skills geographers have to offer the academic and professional worlds. But it is the assertion of this paper that this contribution can be made only when every geography major and minor, regardless of interest, is able to gain a working knowledge of the latest techniques within the existing framework of the liberal arts curriculum. The add-on approach may be an effective way of first introducing new techniques into a curriculum, but the time has come to consider a different approach to integrating content and method in the undergraduate curriculum.
Each semester students will be presented with two or three research problems ( table 2 ) . Each of these will emphasize the range and types of problems geographers address, relevant literatures, and traditional and contemporary approaches to particular issues, including the latest techniques in automated mapping and geographic information systems. The issues are selected so that they raise a variety of technical and methodological problems that can be introduced, discussed, and solved in context. In this way, students can learn through experience how computer databases and maps are used to represent and model real-life situations; analyze spatial, temporal, and functional relationships; and communicate findings cartographically and graphically, and in written and spoken presentations. Students learn, in practice, why technical issues such as map scale, accuracy, precision, and projection create differences in the study of natural and human phenomena.
Additional problems will be developed in the future, but the point of the first set is to select interesting issues that will capture the attention of students and also expand their intellectual horizons. They are a mix of local, regional, national, international, and global issues that intersperse contemporary problems with historical case studies. Beyond the challenge to students, the problems are intended to challenge the computer systems for which they are designed. By applying information technologies to new and unconventional topics, The Geographer's Craft seeks to extend the frontier of GIS and computer techniques into fresh areas of application. New problems can be developed at the rate of one or two a year to keep the course fresh and to respond to research advances in a variety of subdisciplines.
Discussion of the goals for techniques training often focuses on specific skills students should be expected to master (Nyerges and Chrisman 1989, 290), without adequately defending the rationale for mastery. In The Geographer's Craft, mastery of technical "skills" is always judged in relationship to a broader vision of education in analytical reasoning ( table 3 ) . Toulmin, Rieke, and Janik (1979) provide one useful model of the elements of analytical reasoning that can be readily adapted to the needs of geography: claims; grounds; warrants and backing; and qualifiers and rebuttals. These elements outline analytical reasoning as a process of: 1) framing a research problem or claim; 2) examining the nature and quality of evidence; 3) reasoning from evidence; and 3) if necessary, qualifying and modulating assertions. Table 3 adapts this scheme to the needs of instruction in geographical techniques, adding a fifth element--the presentation of an argument--as a final goal. By considering technical "skills" in the light of this model, it is far easier to grasp the sorts of issues that need to be addressed in the techniques curriculum.
No one module can reach all of the goals presented in table 3 but, through the year, students will achieve mastery of most and familiarity with the remainder. Some, such as issues of cartographic communication, are addressed early in the course and woven into many modules. Other issues, such as the use of statistical analysis and remote sensing data, are confined to certain modules in which particular techniques are introduced. A few issues, such as database organization, will be discussed in passing in many modules, but will not be the focus of any of their own. but will serve as the focus of only a few. One of the critical concerns of the project is that students be prepared to communicate their findings effectively in both writing and speaking. One of the great weaknesses of conventional techniques curricula is that, although students master highly technical skills, they are unable to communicate their findings to a larger audience. Many of the modules in The Geographer's Craft will demand written and oral presentations as their outcome.
In this conception, software systems are best seen as aids to analytical reasoning. Each system offers certain capabilities for supporting inferential reasoning, but no one system can span all of the goals outlined in table 3 . Indeed, students must be exposed to a variety of software systems to see, in effect, how each has been designed to "reason" about certain geographical processes. By employing several analytical software systems, rather than one, The Geographer's Craft will be able to cultivate this sort of analytical sophistication. Students will develop the flexibility and adaptability needed to use a variety of software systems and to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each. Indeed, in these days of rapidly changing software and hardware, it would be a disservice to the students to teach only one, or just a few, software systems.
In effect, The Geographer's Craft is using hypermedia techniques to assemble what might be termed an "electronic textbook" or, perhaps more appropriately, "textbooks"--in the plural. This is because the ideal to which The Geographer's Craft aspires is a teaching environment in which students would have immediate on-line access to the best educational materials available--maps, photographs, videos, books, atlases and--perhaps in the future--CD-ROM versions of textbooks in cartography, remote sensing, statistics and geographic information systems. It is easy to imagine how valuable it would be to have available on-line the full text of the NCGIA GIS Core Curriculum (already issued on diskette); Robinson, Sale, Morrison and Muehrcke's (1984) Elements of Cartography , world and national atlases (already available on diskette and CD-ROM); a representative selection of the thousands of maps held by the American Geographical Society in its library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (a videodisk will be available soon), and on-line tutorials and help files. The full implementation of this ideal may still be some years away, but The Geographer's Craft intends to develop a prototype of this educational environment, one that can be developed further as additional resources become available.
The Geographer's Craft takes some of its ideas from two innovative educational systems: the Perseus Project (Crane 1992) and the Daedalus Project (Brown 1992; Butler 1993; Slatin 1992). The Perseus Project is a hypermedia database that introduces Classical Greek civilization through the use of original texts, translations, photographs of art work, architectural plans, maps, photographs, biographies, and historical information all accessed from a single multimedia workstation. The Daedalus Project is designed to promote interactive discussion by students of principles of composition and rhetoric. The Geographer's Craft is adopting the Perseus approach in its introduction of classroom materials and the Daedalus approach to enhance interactive, participatory problem solving. Indeed, in the long run it is hoped that Internet communications will allow students in The Geographer's Craft to engage in discussions with students and faculty at other universities around the world.
At one level, hypermedia techniques are a means of enriching student experience by linking a large repertoire of educational materials and making them easily accessible to students through a single workstation. Yet there is a second important feature of hypermedia that makes it particularly well suited to the needs of The Geographer's Craft. Hypermedia, by its very nature, encourages independent thought and problem solving skills. Conventional educational materials such as books, films, and videos are organized linearly from start to finish and, although excerpts can be used out of sequence, these materials implicitly guide the user along a predetermined path. Hypermedia materials allow students to create their own non-linear paths through materials to suit their own needs and interests and to gain access to many widely varied sources instantaneously and simultaneously. In some respects, research in geography and other disciplines is similarly non-linear. That is, researchers draw upon concepts and methods, as needed, in intuitive and creative ways. Hypermedia supports this type of associative thinking by providing a wide range of materials to which users can link effortlessly in their search for a solution to a problem. At the same time, when guidance is required, markers, "maps" and guides can be placed in the files to help users find their way.
A tremendous number of hypermedia projects are now underway in educational computing and much research is being directed at understanding the dynamics of the hypermedia environment for the development of more effective systems (Barrett 1988, 1989; Berk and Devlin 1991; Floyd 1991; Landow 1992; Nielsen 1990). A number of hypermedia projects are now also being pursued by geographers including those by Barbara Buttenfield and Christopher Weber (SUNY-Buffalo) and David Tilton and Sona Andrews (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). All of these initiatives are drawing attention to the potential of hypermedia in education and suggesting ways of resolving the most difficult organizational and technical issues that arise in the creation of hypermedia systems.
The configuration of the department's laboratory dictated that development work begin in the DOS environment, although work will move to the UNIX environment before the project is complete. Tests with several software systems allowed us to select Toolbook, produced by Asymetrix of Bellevue, Washington, as our primary hypermedia authoring system. Apart from the selection of authoring software, The Geographer's Craft depends upon a number of software systems running together in a multi- window environment. Finding application software (for mapping, GIS, and remote sensing) that can be run simultaneously with Toolbook has been a continuing problem. At the moment, five of the lab's application software packages run in the Windows environment: Atlas*GIS, MapInfo, AutoCAD Version 12, Microstation 5.0 and ArcView. These are the systems around which the first modules are being built. IDRISI is also being used even though a Windows version is yet available. Unfortunately, these software systems place very different demands on the microcomputers and not easy to run simultaneously-- particularly since some hardware capacity must be used to support the peripheral devices (VCRs, video disk players, CD-ROM drives, and scanners) needed for hypermedia authoring.
Hypermedia projects employ hundreds or even thousands of interlinked files. These must be managed effectively by the system, within the limits of the software and hardware environment, to give the effect of a single, integrated whole. In our experiments, we found that decisions regarding file structure and organization were a constant compromise between the conceptual organization of the materials we wished to include and the mechanisms through which the software and hardware handled interlinked files. In practice, materials were divided into what might be termed the "smallest thematic unit." That is, instead of placing each complete hypermedia module in a single file, the materials were divided into smaller files which were linked so that students could move as needed from file to file interactively. These smaller files could be organized effectively using subdirectories arranged by content (photographs, maps, diagrams).
Finally, experiments showed that placing graphic images in the hypermedia modules is very time consuming, regardless of whether they are drawn, scanned, or transferred from other application software. With conventional paper materials, photographs, transparencies, and photocopies are easy to prepare. Unfortunately, in the digital environment, each image requires special attention and care. To prepare a single image for inclusion, many scanning passes may be required to achieve the necessary level of detail and to control the size of the resulting digital file. Once scanned, images must be cropped, re-touched, and linked to their position in the hypermedia materials. Transfer of digital images and boundary files from other softwarepackages into the hypermedia books is similarly labor intensive.
Perhaps, in part, the solution is to envision a smaller number of more closely interlocked courses, ones that stress analytical reasoning and problem solving, rather than techniques alone. Indeed, more could be done to reassess how techniques training should fit into the undergraduate curriculum. Recently, Butzer (1994) has called attention to what might be accomplished by rethinking the content and organization of courses in human and cultural geography. He argues that curricula organized along the lines of traditional disciplinary and subdisciplinary distinctions fail to do justice to the complexities of the phenomena and processes under study. Perhaps the same is true of techniques training. We wish students to be able to apply their skills intelligently to whatever problems they encounter in professional life as these problems cross-cut both disciplinary and subdisciplinary boundaries. Our teaching should reflect this goal by cultivating in our students the intellectual flexibility and technical adaptability needed to apply their geographical training to whatever research challenges they may encounter. Perhaps the answer is to reassess the place of techniques training within a more encompassing reconceptualization of the undergraduate curriculum. Too much debate has focused on what is really a false dichotomy between technical and substantive training. What is really needed is a curriculum that blends the two and balances the demands of both.
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