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5.3 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES, *pedagogy
GeoLearn is an educational research group within the Department of Spatial Information Sciences (DSIS) in the Technological University Dublin (DIT). Its aim is to promote, develop and evaluate emerging learning methods and resources, such as E-Learning and other innovative educational techniques in the Geomatics discipline.
The GeoLearn group has conducted a number of pilot studies of E-Learning for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with International groups and the evaluation of the feedback from participants is presented. The group has also participated in the education service of the European spatial data research organisation (EuroSDR) delivering and evaluating its courses to multi-national participants. At undergraduate level the group has pioneered the use of problem-based learning (PBL) as a replacement for the traditional classroom-delivered approach and written examination. The experience of the first three years of PBL is reported, including students’ own reflective experiences.
In recent years there has been a paradigm shift in education in DIT whereby the focus is now more learner-centred and it is recognised that current and future learners will increasingly have diverse background experiences, motivations and learning preferences. In addition, focus has shifted from teacher performance and outputs to the quality of the learning outcomes. To support this paradigm shift DIT put a number of systems in place including: pedagogical support from the Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC); learning technology support from the Learning Technology Team (LTT) and Heads of Learning Development (HoLD) positions in each Faculty.
With these structures in place the GeoLearn group has helped to successfully address a number of issues such as weaknesses in the Geomatics Degree Programme including poor integration of subject areas; lack of independent and innovative thought; unfamiliarity with the role of team player; poor presentation skills and lack of self belief as significant contributors and innovators.
To date one ECTS accredited E-Learning module in Co-ordinate Reference Systems has been marketed and delivered. Two further modules in the area of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are in production and a number of modules on laser scanning are in the planning stage. The aim is to have a suite of modular online courses that can be accessed as the need arises. The GeoLearn team was also awarded a Teaching Excellence award in 2006 from DIT for its use of PBL at undergraduate level. The introduction of PBL at all stages of the Geomatics undergraduate programmes has been strongly recommended by various accreditation and validation bodies engaged by DIT.
The GeoLearn group aims to disseminate its experience to the wider spatial sciences and to learn from the experiences of similar groups in related fields.
Martin, A., Mooney, K. and McGovern, E. GeoLearn – Exploiting New Educational Tools in the Spatial Information Sciences. International Technology, Education and Development Conference. 7th. March 2007. Valencia, Spain.