According to the 2009 Horizon Report, “Geo-Everything” will significantly impact teaching, learning, research and creative expression within the next two to three years. (The report covers 5 other technologies, but geo-everything is my favorite.)
What is it?
Geolocation (geocoding or geotagging) means using data about location, whether it’s where you are or where a photo or other data was taken. Every place on earth has a unique set of coordinates (longitude, latitude and altitude) that can be detected by GPS receivers. These receivers are now being included in many devices.
Geolocation is not new; people have been tracking their movements (and the movements of animals) for years. I’ve used a GPS device to record and create tracks of where I’ve been and to tag photos to map on Google Earth for several years. What is new are small, multifunctional devices like the iPhone that have GPS built in, so it is easier to record or use location information. For example, students could be investigating the distribution of a plant species, or investigating medical care in an underdeveloped country. Students can take pictures, video and record notes, while the device automatically records the location and displays it on a map. The new devices eliminate the need for a separate GPS unit while simplifying the steps to create annotated, precise maps. The devices also allow communication based on location. For example, imagine a student waiting for the C2 bus, worried about her German class. The device in her pocket may let her know that someone within a few feet of her is also taking German and would like to practice German as they wait for the bus.
People are already using geolocation here at Duke. For example,
- Victoria Szabo, and Richard Lucic (ISIS) are exploring devices for creating multimedia maps creating multimedia maps with their research capstone course and Duke Engage
- Julie Reynolds‘ (Biology) citizen scientist project maps the location of invasive plants
- Trudy Abel (History) has collected historical information, including maps for Digital Durham
- Peter Haff’s students (NSOE) mapped their field trip to the southwest desert using Google Earth
- Pat Halpin‘s Marine Geospatial Ecology lab uses mapping to look at marine ecology, resource management and ocean conservation issues
- Alex Glass‘s (NSOE) course mapped the location of virtual oil field
- Gary Gereffi (Sociology) has created maps demonstrating North Carolina’s role in the Global Economy
- Ken Glander (Evolutionary Anthropology) is working on tracking the daily activity of lemurs