Mapping Our Worlds

Maps have long been used to visually represent our interpretation of place and history and in so doing, reveal the cultural lens through which we see our world. With the advent of web-based mapping environments like Worldmapper, Google Earth and Google Maps, we can more easily conceptualize relationships between objects and data sets and more readily understand how geography influences culture. We can also tap into as well as contribute to the ever expanding repository of user-generated, geotagged media frequently associated with online map environments.

So what are the possibilities in using online mapping tools like Google Maps and Google Earth in language, culture and civilization courses? And what role might these tools play in developing our students’ intercultural competencies, global awareness, communication, collaboration and literacy skills? We’ll use our face-to-face session this week to explore some classroom examples. We’ll also spend time working in our course wiki.

In lieu of our Thursday LearnCentral session we will attend or view Jess McCulloch’s October 12, technoLanguages Live session. I’d like all of you to post a reflection here on your experience in Jess McCullloch’s session. How have these global interactions changed how you view communities of practice?


8 Responses to “Mapping Our Worlds”

  1. jarcastillo Says:

    I received this from the rep at Pearson Higher Ed and thought I would share it in case any of you are interested:

    Hello Educators:
    Have you seen the email from Pearson’s English team announcing the Speaking about Composition Online Conference? I wanted to make sure you’re aware of this exciting professional development opportunity, which will take place on Wednesday, October 20, from 10am to 6pm EST.

    Please explore the Speaking about Composition conference agenda and speakers here: . Be sure to register today!

    You can join the conference from the comfort of your home or office – all you need is a computer and an internet connection. You can attend just one session, or you can attend several. The best part is: there is no registration fee.

    Here is the program. Visit the Speaking about Composition site to read descriptions of each session.

    10am EST
    Keeping Writing in Visual Rhetoric
    John Ruszkiewicz

    11am EST
    Teaching with Genre: Cure for the Common Writing Course Richard Johnson-Sheehan and Charles Paine

    12pm EST
    Multilingual Writing Students: Opportunities and Challenges
    Kate Mangelsdorf and Evelyn Posey

    1pm EST
    DIY Writing and Public Thinking
    Dan Anderson

    2pm EST
    From Thesis To Rhetorical Argument: Practical Strategies
    Christine Alfano and Alyssa O’Brien

    3pm EST
    From Comp to Chem: How Composition Classes Prepare Students for Writing in the Disciplines
    Barbara E. Walvoord

    4pm EST
    Learning About Purposes by Analyzing Visual Compositions
    Ann Wysocki and Dennis Lynch

    5pm EST
    Reflections on Remediation in College and the Purpose of Education in Democracy
    Mike Rose

  2. Eleonora Boscolo Camiletto Says:

    I think Google Maps and Google Earth can be useful tools for language and culture classes. As Lalitesh Katragadda explains in his talk “Making maps to fight disaster, build economies” we need to remember that Google Maps is yet to be completed and people’s participation in its completion is very important and significative.
    (Here is a map of Google Street View coverage as of January 2010, for example).
    I was thinking about the use of these tools in a language class and I remembered two projects I assigned my students last year: one was to organize an hypothetical trip Italy, giving an itinerary and details on excursions. It would have been very helpful to use Google Earth to virtually explore in their presentation the places they chose. The other assignment way to pick an Italian city, present a brief history and some of its most famous monuments to the class. I realize now how using Google maps and Street View would have helped keeping the interest up. I remember a presentation on the famous Pompeii that only showed two pictures.
    If we look for Pompeii on Street View, this is what we can see instead, and I think it’s amazing.

    I enjoyed Jess McCulloch’s session on Learn Central and I think her wiki is very helpful and full of resources to explore and consider for our class projects.
    I think her session was very engaging and collaborative: everybody was greeted when joining the session and everybody had the chance to speak and talk about his or her experiences also practically contributing to the session (the Japanese ‘think’ music) but most importantly all the questions asked in the chat were promptly answered.

  3. melinaanne Says:

    Jess McCulloch’s Elluminate session on technolanguages was certainly informative, albeit a little overwhelming. Her wiki is a wealth of information and examples, both concrete and abstract, but there’s so much of it, one almost doesn’t know where to start (though she did a fine job of trying to focus on certain subjects). Like other sessions we have attended in Elluminate, there was a certain level of assumption that all the attendees had a certain level of technological know-how. This is not meant as a criticism, just an observation of this particular community of practice itself and of my own abilities (or lack thereof) within it. In any case, the most important thing I took away from her session was the importance of having a global perspective when teaching a language. In the Lunch Box Project, for example, the importance was not for the students to communicate with each other in a foreign language but to think about language and community in a broader sense. She said she wanted her students to understand that other children their age in other countries were learning foreign languages, too. In this way her community of practice extended beyond her Chinese classroom to encompass foreign language learners in general of the same age but different countries of origin. She also stressed the importance of creating a public space to showcase student work, i.e. uploading everything to the internet, as limiting these things to local campus servers defeats the purpose of the global network she’s seeking to create.

    The session was smaller than some of the others we have attended in class, and Jess did a nice job of welcoming and including everyone, even having everyone introduce his/herself using the language he/she teaches. Again, I was struck by the fact that, even though we were in a virtual environment, and there were the inevitably awkward moments of technology glitches, the atmosphere was warm and very familiar. Everyone was instantly on a first-name basis, and everyone handed out compliments and encouragement at will. In a face-to-face session, this kind of environment would be more difficult to find. Even though there are moderators in Elluminate who have extra privileges, the person giving the session seems much more available and easy to reach than an instructor lecturing in front of the class. Perhaps this is a credit to Jess herself and her way with the participants in the session, but I wonder if the nature of Elluminate and other platforms like it lends itself to this kind of familiarity. These sessions truly do feel much more “community-oriented” than a traditional face-to-face lecture or seminar.

  4. carsten01 Says:

    I believe that with tools like Google Maps and Google Earth we can bring the world into the classroom. These are powerful tools to boost student’s motivation an helping them situating their language skills in a context outside the classroom.
    Last week I had exchange students from Germany in my language course. Using Google Earth -based on Niko’s ideas- , the exchanges students showed my students their university city. Through questions from my students, they and the exchanges explored the cities together. To assess this sessions I asked my students to write a little advertisement for the city they have explored. To extend this into a project -credit to Barbara- students could create a virtual tour for “their” university city.
    Another idea using Google Maps and Google Earth, would be combining it with a social bookmarking tool such as diigo. Establishing a diigo-group for the language course, the teacher could bookmark news for example, and ask students to locate whatever had happened with a mapping tool. Again, a visual context would be provided.
    Listening to Jess McCulloch’s Elluminate session on technoLanguages I was -as Melina- overwhelmed with information. I think one does not only have to have a certain level of know-how, but also a level of pedagogical training. It is all to easy to get lost in possibilities of what to do in the classroom, but the implementation of all these tools and possibilities has to serve the student’s advancement in the language. Thus I think that whenever using tools as we learn about now, we have to ask ourselves what specific skills we want to strengthen in our students and what object we want to achieve.

  5. Karen Zook Says:

    I think the main thing I learned from Jess McCullough’s Elluminate session was what she conveyed by example from her own experience. That is, the role her blog/wiki have played in the creation of the material she was speaking about, and how that was incorporated into her classroom environment.

    We talk about this a lot, but one of the greatest thing about Web 2.0 is that the classroom environment isn’t restricted to just the classroom. The in-classroom students have access to “classmates” from all over the world, and out-of-classroom students have access to those resources traditionally reserved for in-classroom students.

    What Jess McCullough managed to do was set up a community of practice in which she wasn’t entirely responsible for generating the content (again, unlike the traditional classroom); students/participants were able to contribute materials and access materials contributed by others, all at once. She was able to share very specific information about HOW to create those communities, and that’s a wonderful bit of information for those of us just starting out. The web is huge, after all, and it can be hard to find just what you’re looking for out there.

    In terms of maps, I have a unique experience with this within my subject area. Since my students are primarily dealing with the names of defunct civilizations, it isn’t too difficult for them to go through their entire coursework without associating those civilizations with their present-day counterparts, and therefore without really orienting themselves in space. Google Earth (or Maps, or any other equivalent service) would be a hugely helpful resource for helping them create a sense of physical presence within the “world’ of their studies.

  6. beatebirkefeld Says:

    Something I really liked in Jess McCullough’s Elluminate session was that she greeted every single attendee. Not only did she ask them to introduce themselves and what they do, but also using the language everyone teaches. This personalized the entire one hour conversation, encouraged participation, and valued everyone’s expertise. That is probably the reason why this Elluminate session was the session that was the closest to a community of practice. It really felt that everyone could learn something from one another. One thing I would criticize, however, was that it seemed to take 20-30 minutes for them to start on the topic. There was plenty of ideas for discussion, but no time left at the end of the session due to the organizational part that took so long. Something I’d like to try out with a future class was the lunchbox project.
    I can see myself using Google maps or other applications in class. With Google maps you can also find pictures, videos, shops, restaurant reviews etc. I did something similar to Eleonora’s idea with my German students one year. They had to design a trip to Germany, including airplane ticket, train ticket and schedule, accommodation, cost for food, and other things. If I understand it right, you can take Google maps to the extent of creating your own complete itinerary with directions etc. For students that would mean understanding the differences between the target culture and their own culture, i.e. in the U.S. people drive their cars everywhere; in Germany they have a lot of public transportation. And then also, why do people do that? We could examine history, and/or environmental policies. Google maps could also be used to find a restaurant for the trip. Reading the reviews, studying the menu, understanding the differences between North and South Germany. These are just some ideas, but I’d love to implement this further in my class!

  7. claudiopi Says:

    I agree with those of you who think of Jess McCullough’s Elluminate session as a community of practice. People attending the session were all sort of familiar to the topic and already had an expertise in the field, so as “beginners” we definitely would have had less to say if attending the event in real time. However, listening to the recording was interesting, for the subject being discussed (it kind of went more in-depth with the issues we have been discussing in class) and for the way people interacted. The atmosphere was warm and people really gave me this sense of how important is sharing knowledge. This need of sharing especially comes out when dealing with Web 2.0 and the infinitive tools it provides us with. Getting to talk with fellow language teachers, face-to-face or in this case through Elluminate, can be helpful to focus more on the useful and leave the superfluous aside, discussing the functionality of certain interfaces applied to specific and, hopefully, common objectives.
    As regards the use of Google and its mapping resources (that I personally never used in my short teaching experience), I have to say that you gave me many ideas on how to use these instruments in class. This is what I mean when I say that sharing is something essential, which does not have to do with a simple one-way information, but rather with a confrontation that can only enhance our perspective on instruments and tools. As language teachers, there are multiple ways and multiple answers, and there is nothing more reasonable than looking at them together, in a community of practice.

  8. aljarrash Says:

    Using technology to discover the world and speak a foreign language is something great.It is a tourism without a need to pay.
    I used google maps once in my class and noticed how were students interested in and the way they were participating.I used it when I was talking about some Arab countries .Some of the students ,it was for the first time for them to hear names of some those countries and don’t know where they are located .
    Using google maps is so easy and it doesn’t need an experience or to be studied .We can use it for teaching a language in so many ways .It helps teaching students about places they may have in their books and in talking about culture,visiting archeological sites in some places all over the world.We can also ask students about directions using the target language by giving them a map of a city for example and ask them to discuss it in groups and talk about directions.
    In this course,i discovered that there are so many tools can be used in the class to help being a good teacher and developing skills of teaching.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: