Understanding the Use of Geospatial Technologies to Teach Science: TPACK as a Lens for Effective Teaching

  • James MaKinsterEmail author
  • Nancy Trautmann


Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, or TPACK (pronounced t-pack), is a theoretical framework to examine how a specific technology creates meaningful opportunities for teaching and learning. For 3 years we engaged three cohorts of teachers in a sustained professional development project entitled GIT Ahead. GIT Ahead helped teachers identify ways to teach science using geospatial technologies. This chapter presents a case study of one GIT Ahead teacher’s use of Google Earth and ArcView software to teach students about watershed concepts and issues. TPACK provides a framework for analysis of both the types of teacher knowledge required to successfully implement technology-based science learning and the pedagogical choices necessary to achieve intended learning outcomes. In the watershed case study, Google Earth enabled students to explore a 3D representation of their local watershed, change their view or perspective as needed, and access supplementary information that helped them to interpret the landscape. Using ArcView they measured various attributes of the watershed, which required them to understand individual scientific concepts and the interrelatedness of those concepts. Ultimately, TPACK provides researchers with a knowledge framework for research on the use of geospatial technology to teach science. A productive area of future research might examine how content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological knowledge vary among teachers using similar technologies or teaching similar concepts.


Framework Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Google Earth Professional Development Science Concepts Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Watersheds 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under DUE Grant No 0602751. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hobart and William Smith CollegesGenevaUSA
  2. 2.Cornell Lab of OrnithologyIthacaUSA

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