April 12 & 13, 2014 State of the Map US

Teaching Mapping to Geographers

Day: Saturday
Time: 4:30pm

OpenStreetMap is a tremendous tool for local communities, government agencies, disaster response, and the democratization of data, but has very limited penetration into academia. In particular, most students in academic Geography programs will graduate with no formal exposure to OSM or the philosophies and approach to mapping it embodies. Some of this is explained by deficits in technical literacy among geographers, and some by a history of broad-stroke ignorance of knowledge and conventions that are fundamental to transmitting the traditions of information design and Cartography.

While OSM seems like a natural fit for geographers, the differences in assumptions, paradigms, and expectations between OSMers, academic cartographers, and students with a background in GIS are immediately apparent and not trivial to overcome. Understanding these differences provides important insights in how both OSM and geographic education might most efficiently advance in the future.

Stephanie May and Alan McConchie will discuss their experiences teaching OSM as a pedagogical tool for map-making and open source collaborations to create and curate data within university Geography departments, to professional associations of geographers, and in less formal settings. In so doing, they will point to the blind spots in OSM discussions, and in standard curricula on GIS and Cartography that tend to prevent these worlds from touching, and suggest a framework for learning across these divides.


Interested in sponsoring? Email bonnie@openstreetmap.us to learn more.