Educators Gain Free Use of Geographic Software

December 21, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education has signed an agreement with ESRI that gives teachers free use of the company’s geographic information system (GIS) software for three years.
The ArcView software gives teachers another tool to help students answer personal and community questions with local as well as global implications. GIS will aid West Virginia in its efforts to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Initial efforts will focus on grades 6 through 12.
“Math and science are critical to preparing today’s students for the global economy of the 21st century,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “This software will give teachers yet one more way to enhance 21st century learning by focusing on activities that are interdisciplinary, student-centered and integrated with real world issues.”
The West Virginia Department of Education has conducted GIS seminars for its teachers in preparation for implementing the statewide license agreement. ArcView instruction has been a feature of the state’s Social Studies Summer Institute since 2006, while teachers in both the science and social studies departments attend GIS clinics at the annual Teacher Leadership Institute. In addition, the West Virginia Geographic Alliance offers seminars and classes for ArcView software.
“More and more states see value in GIS for all students, in all grades and subject areas,” said Charlie Fitzpatrick, K-12 education manager at ESRI. “It fosters integrative thinking, analysis, problem solving, and communication, which are critical for social studies and STEM education, as well as being an effective worker and informed citizen."
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