A Case for Teaching Geographic Visualization without GIS

  • Anne Kelly Knowles
Keywords: geographic visualization, mapping, GIS, history


This article argues for the value of teaching geographic visualization to non-geography majors by having them make maps manually, using punched mylar, colored pencils, and light tables instead of computerbased geographic information systems or mapping programs. The essay contrasts the experiences of attempting to teach principles of geographic visualization using ArcView GIS in an introductory human geography course and using manual methods in an upper-level research methods course in history. Several conclusions emerge: (1) using manual methods to visualize spatial information quickly gets students thinking geographically; (2) the ease of learning the fundamental concepts and techniques of geographic visualization using manual methods makes it possible to integrate visualization into courses outside the discipline of geography; (3) geographic visualization can tremendously enrich the study of history, prompting students to think in ways they might not otherwise; and (4) teaching visualization with mylar has distinct advantages for history courses because physical map layers reinforce the notion that places are palimpsests of change. Manual methods make it possible to teach geographic visualization at colleges and universities that have no geography department or GIS courses. Their use should be encouraged as an adaptable, inexpensive, effective way to promote geographic learning and geographic literacy in U.S. higher education.
How to Cite
Knowles, A. K. (2000). A Case for Teaching Geographic Visualization without GIS. Cartographic Perspectives, (36), 23-37. https://doi.org/10.14714/CP36.823
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