ends they could not achieve alone. The federation should consist of GIS developer and user partners, drawn from academia, government, the private sector, and the K–12 user community.

To be successful, the following should be considered in the design of a GIS educational software federation (NRC, 1998):

  1. The federation should be a grass-roots, community-driven effort.

  2. A bottom-up (rather than a top-down approach) should be the governance basis of the federation to ensure that the priorities of the broader community are honored. However, some centralized management would be necessary for making major decisions on behalf of the federation’s constituents, for representing the federation’s interests, and for conducting day-to-day operations. The instrument of centralized management should be used sparingly.

  3. The federation should be flexible. Thus, the initial rules and procedures should not be overspecified.

  4. A significant part of the responsibility of a federation is managing the tensions that may arise from constituents with differing expectations (e.g., software companies, teachers).


As might be expected with any piece of complex software that has evolved over time, GIS has both strengths and weaknesses as a system for supporting spatial thinking. The sets of criteria developed in Chapter 6 have allowed the committee to do two things: (1) explore, in detail, the capacity, design, and implementation of GIS as a support system for spatial thinking in the K–12 context; and (2) identify mechanisms for the redesign of GIS. Chapter 9 presents an overall assessment as to whether GIS provides a useful foundation for spatial thinking in the K–12 context.

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