Teaching mapping for digital natives: New pedagogical ideas for undergraduate cartography education

Francis Harvey, Jennifer Kotting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The current generation of US students engaging with cartography has always had some form of access to computing technologies. Further, this generation has always known a world with networked computer capabilities - the Internet and World Wide Web. Their experience of cartography is largely through fleeting representations shown on a variety of display screens, thereby encountering information differently than most of their instructors. Teaching cartography to these "digital natives" consequently challenges teachers to engage increasing levels of experience and knowledge of technology while assuring fundamental understanding of cartographic concepts and analysis techniques. Although GIS is used in a vast range of fields, we believe many students are discouraged from programs and courses oriented towards educating cartographic specialists. However, general interest in mapping has never been as significant a part of American culture as it is today. In spite of accessible modes of digital mapping now widely available, introducing cartographic fundamentals retains great significance for undergraduate cartography education. In this paper we present a new pedagogical model for undergraduate cartography education that introduces students finding curiousity in mapping, but lacking desire to become cartographic specialists, to mapping. This model enables undergraduate students to learn fundamentals and begin to reflect critically on the concepts and techniques of modern cartography. Our example stems from a class that systematically addresses barriers to learning and mapping through active-learning based approaches in an interactive classroom. The active-learning approach involves significant engagements with the potentials and challenges of modern cartography in the information age by embracing inquiry-based pedagogical methods and learning with and about mapping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Cartographic education
  • Mapping
  • Modern cartgraphy
  • Pedagody in geography


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