The Collaborative-geomatics Informatics Tool: Engaging Youth Using Place-based Education

By Andrea D. Isogai, Daniel D. McCarthy, Jim D. Karagatzides, Skye Vandenberg, Holly Gardner, Vicky Edwards, Don Cowan and Leonard J. S. Tsuji.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Worldwide, the use of mapping technologies in Aboriginal communities continues to grow as these communities need to collect, collate, store, analyze and present data in response to resource development and to plan proactively. The relatively inexpensive, web-based, collaborative-geomatics informatics tool incorporates high-resolution satellite imagery and is unique as the tool utilizes the Web Informatics Development Environment (WIDE) toolkit developed at the University of Waterloo. The toolkit utilizes a forms-based approach to system construction; thus, allowing for relatively rapid development and modification of the system after community input. The WIDE toolkit also supports collaboration within as well as between communities using its social networking feature. It allows communities to take control of the collection, collation, processing, and management of their own information. As with all mapping technologies, the target users have been adults; however, for continuity purposes, there is a need to engage the Aboriginal youth. In a pilot study, we examined if place-based education could be used to engage Aboriginal youth living in Fort Albany First Nation, sub-arctic Canada, with respect to the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool. Introduction to and familiarization with the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool was facilitated through two environmental outreach camps. Qualitative methods were utilized to gauge if place-based education successfully engaged First Nation youth with respect to use of the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool. Results from a themed analysis revealed that place-based education successfully engaged the youth. Student’s responses were quite positive and most showed a great level of interest for learning about their environment and utilizing the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool, and other technology. Continuation of the outreach initiative to further engage the youth is recommended.

Keywords: First Nations, Collaborative-geomatics Informatics Tool, Youth Engagement, Place-based Education, Planning

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.131-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 244.007KB).

Andrea D. Isogai

MES Candidate, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Andrea D. Isogai recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in environment and resource studies from the University of Waterloo, where she will continue to complete her Masters in environmental studies. She has a strong interest in First Nation communities and education. Some of her previous research includes introducing a nutrition program to students of a remote and isolated First Nation community.

Dr. Daniel D. McCarthy

Assistant Professor, Department of Environment and Resource Studies , Social Innovation Generation, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. McCarthy is a faculty member with Social Innovation Generation as well as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo. He has strong research interests and partnerships that relate to fostering the adaptive capacity for community-based, natural resource management, working closely with Mushkegowuk Cree First Nations in James Bay. Other research that explores stewardship, livelihoods, and learning is connected to the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve and the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Jim D. Karagatzides

School of Environmental Studies, Georgian College, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Skye Vandenberg

Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Holly Gardner

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Holly L. Gardner Youden is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Environment and Resource Studies. Her work focuses on community-based, landuse planning development and implementation in remote First Nations communities. Currently, this work is centred on the collection, organization, and dissemination of dynamic information resources relevant to the development of a landuse plan. This involves the incorporation of traditional and “Western” knowledge resources. This effort is supported by tools like the collaborative geomatics system.

Vicky Edwards

Mundo Peetabeck Education Authority, University of Waterloo, Fort Albany, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Don Cowan

Distinguished Professor Emeritus, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Donald D. Cowan is the director of the Computer Systems Group at the University of Waterloo. He was the founding chairman of the Computer Science Department at the University of Waterloo, now the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. His software engineering interests focus on web-based systems, particularly in reducing the number of abstractions required to produce and validate them. Reducing the number of abstractions will lower the barriers for individuals and organizations to build and maintain large-scale, complex, web-based systems. Professor Cowan and his team have developed the Web Informatics Development Environment (WIDE), which includes advanced mapping engines first created in the early 90s. He has worked with various organizations in applying the WIDE tools and technologies to develop over 60 complex web-based systems in environment, public and population health, cultural heritage, social services, Aboriginal affairs, business, and tourism. He is the author or co-author of 240 refereed papers and 15 books in computer/communications, software engineering, education, environmental information systems, and mathematics. Among several honours, he has received the Brazilian National Order of Scientific Merit-Grand Cross, Brazil’s Highest Scientific Honour (2006). He is also a Distinguished Scientist of the Association for Computing Machinery (2010).

Dr. Leonard J. S. Tsuji

Professor, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


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