For the past three years Nuala Cowan & Richard Hinton of the Geography department at GWU have integrated OpenStreetMap into the curriculum for their undergraduate Geographical Information Systems (GIS) & Cartography classes.
In a service learning collaboration with both local & international partners (American Red Cross 2012, USAID 2014), GW Geography students have used high-resolution satellite imagery to trace road and building infrastructure (Columbia & Indonesia 2012, Kathmandu 2013), data that is subsequently used to support disaster preparedness efforts. Students who trained to participate in the Kathmandu assignment went on to work with the American Red Cross to support the OSM work in the Philippines in response to Typhoon Haiyun.
In conjunction with the OpenStreetMap foundation, we are beginning to develop an initiative that would allow other university instructors to replicate our mapping assignment for their particular discipline and curricular needs (TeachOSM.org). Mapping has applicability across many fields and communities of interest, and can used to document, archive, plan and contribute to both local and international initiatives.
Open source mapping modules and assignments are also a unique way to integrate service-learning strategies in course curriculum, while exposing students to new and exciting technological platforms. The experience teaches civic responsibility and the value of collaborative efforts in the global community.
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