students learning English and learning to use GIS is to translate only the ArcView Graphical User Interface (GUI) Quick Reference (Figure 8.10). The translation helped the Spanish-speaking students to know what a button would do and whether they were on the right track. For teachers who use Mapping Our World: GIS Lessons for Educators, this simple interface aid can provide English language learners with an opportunity to use GIS effectively as a support to the inquiry process.
Currently, GIS is not accessible to and supportive of the full range of learners. Few students in the primary grades use GIS. Most students with learning disabilities do not have opportunities to use GIS. In addition, there is an unequal distribution of computing resources among schools, and a critical lack of pre-service teacher training in areas such as spatial literacy, problem-based teaching techniques, and computer skills. Nonetheless, GIS does have the potential to accommodate the full range of learners and to do so in some creative and interesting ways.
7. Be Customizable. Current GIS software products were developed as specialist tools for use in government, industry, and higher education. In such environments, software vendors could assume that sophisticated users were willing to invest considerable time and money in learning how to use a software product and how to customize its interface and functionality as needed. These conditions do not hold generally in K–12 education. In the K–12 context, there is a lack of time and money to learn how to use industrial-strength GIS.
Out of necessity, however, most GIS software used in the K–12 context involves industrial-strength, heavyweight applications that were not designed with students and learning in mind. Exceptions include ArcVoyager (see Box 8.3), a customized version of ArcView, which is designed to help students begin to navigate the world of maps and geographic inquiry through GIS. Another exception is CITYgreen, which is a community forestry application for ArcView developed by American Forests (see Box 8.2). This customized program, which has built-in modeling, statistical, and analytical functions, provides learners with an opportunity to engage in ecological analyses that affect their communities: development, planning, alternative land-use proposals, and the preservation of green spaces.
To help K–12 teachers use ArcView in their classes, ESRI published Mapping Our World: GIS