“GIS…illustrates a new and powerful opportunity for schools. It creates spatial learning environments in which students can explore, analyze, and make decisions about problems in an interactive and challenging manner.”           - GIS in Schools

Why should schools adopt GIS?
  Examples of GIS in Education  

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) integrate geography’s spatial perspective with the data management and analysis capabilities of modern information technologies. This integration has produced a powerful problem-solving tool that supports and complements key components of contemporary education reform initiatives. GIS fosters learning that is inquiry and standards-based, interdisciplinary, authentic, collaborative, and interactive.


GIS is a real-world problem-solving tool. GIS users outside of the educational setting – those in government; business, natural resources management, health care, and so on – employ this powerful technology for that very reason – it is, by far, the most versatile and effective problem-solving tool available. Whether the subject is science, math, or economics – whether the classroom is elementary, middle school, or high school – when students learn with GIS, they learn how to use technology effectively to answer questions and they are better prepared to meet the challenges of work and life in the 21st century.

Educational leaders have long argued for a problem-based approach to learning. Problem-based learning is open-ended – it is an inquiry process that examines alternatives and possibilities rather than searching for a single, correct solution. The use of GIS in the classroom fosters problem solving skills such as asking relevant questions, acquiring data with which to investigate those questions, observing and analyzing patterns in that data, drawing inferences and conclusions from data analysis, and acting on the findings of the investigation. GIS prepares students for the workplace where problem-solving skills are essential. A GIS-enabled classroom is a stepping stone to the future.



GIS is, by its very nature, interdisciplinary and is an ideal tool for the integration of knowledge and skills from varied core subjects In GIS, mathematics and geography merge to form a foundation for the observation and analysis of data from history, civics, environmental science, biology, earth science, sociology, linguistics, or literature. Through interdisciplinary analysis, GIS not only encourages the transference of learning across a range of school subjects but it reinforces the learning in each by demonstrating its applicability and relevance.



In American education today, national standards in content, instruction, and assessment drive the design of curriculum and instruction. Administrators and teachers demand tools and strategies that will support and facilitate standards-based learning. GIS is a tool that can effectively address standards in every content area because it is not only interdisciplinary, it is cross-curricular. In the natural and social sciences, or in the humanities, GIS has the versatility to support standards implementation.

Sample content standards supported by GIS:

Geography Standard 1:
“How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.”

Science Standard 1, Science as Inquiry:
“All students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry and an understanding of scientific inquiry.”

NCTM Math Standards. Data Analysis and Probability
All students should be able to “formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them.”

Social Studies Standard 8, Science, Technology, and Society
”Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of relationships among science, technology, and society, so that the learner can:”

National Educational Technology Standard 6, Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools
“Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions. Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world. “