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OpenStreetMap Mapathon at Geo2050

August 17, 2020

Next week we’ll be in New York City for the Geography2050 conference, a fantastic event that looks forward to what the future holds for the science of geography across disciplines.

As part of the event, TeachOSM & the American Geographical Society are hosting an OpenStreetMap “mapathon” on the first day, working with a group of geography teachers from all over the nation. The objective is to showcase how OpenStreetMap can be used as a teaching tool in the classroom, both the map itself and the interactive map editing.

TeachOSM is a project to support the educators and instructors in the teaching of geography through the use of OpenStreetMap. Steven Johnson, Richard Hinton, and I will be there to work with the group and teach the editing tools and best practices for mapping. With knowledge of the tools and mapping techniques, these teachers will be able to combine it with their own unique perspectives in their classroom to teach geography to their students. I’m positive they’ll think of much more interesting ways to communicate the power of geography to their classrooms than I could.

OpenStreetMap is a fantastic platform for teaching geography. Students gain valuable knowledge and experience:

  • Geospatial experience — Students get hands-on experience working with real-world map data and a better perception of space, place, and navigation
  • Community — Through contribution, students get to participate in a global network of other mappers with their own unique, local expertise
  • Service — With related projects like the Humanitarian OSM Team, students can affect real change in response to humanitarian crises around the globe, and learn something about the cultural dynamics of other places
  • Academic & career background — The skills learned through interacting with OpenStreetMap can be leveraged as experience for future career or academic goals

I maintain that if I had access to something like OpenStreetMap in high school, it would’ve reinforced and accelerated my interest in the subject of geography. We’re excited to have the opportunity to teach and evangelize such a powerful project.