GIS in the Classroom: Cory Munro – A passionate teacher who knows how to engage his students

September 24, 2015 Angela Alexander

Be inspired this new school year by reading about Cory Munro, an Ontario teacher who's passionate about geography and GIS. Find out how he's used GIS in his teaching to engage his students and what he plans to do with it in the near future.

Meeting interesting teachers who expose their students to new opportunities is one of the best things about my job. One such teacher is Cory Munro from Chesley District Community School  in Bruce County, Ontario. After hearing about his class projects, it’s clear that Cory’s passion for geography comes through in his teaching. Using geographic information systems (GIS) he engages his students as he brings important issues into the classroom and involves them in projects that allow them to explore phenomenon in their own community and beyond.

I first met Cory in 2009 when he visited the Esri Canada booth at an OAGEE conference. Earlier this year, I was reintroduced to him because of his interest in using ArcGIS Online with his students. After a few of our email correspondences, Cory mentioned he was considering registering a team for the Skills Ontario GIS Competition. I was thrilled and I encouraged him to sign up for the event. What a great way for him to challenge his students and to expose them to something new. I am happy to mention that Cory’s Bluewater District School Board team placed second at the 2015 Skills Ontario GIS competition in May. 

Cory Munro is a teacher who’s passionate about geography and GIS.

As a traditional GIS desktop user for 10 years now, Cory has had to overcome challenges that stem from hardware issues related to aging computers running up-to-date software. For many teachers, that would have been enough of a barrier to stop using GIS, but not for Cory. He continues to use the software in class projects and to teach the fundamentals of GIS with the help of introductory Esri Canada resources, and he plans to incorporate ArcGIS Online into his teaching as another way to conduct spatial analysis and to introduce collaborative mapping to his students.

A student map based on a community study on fire hydrant distribution.

In the last school year, Cory applied and received Ministry of Education grants for his grade 12 Geomatics class to participate in three experiential learning opportunities outside of the classroom to directly support field research and spatial analysis in local and regional areas. This included a trip to Toronto, Owen Sound and Bruce Peninsula National Park where the students applied GIS concepts they learned in class and gained valuable skills working in the field, such as data collection and tree identification. The trips were a success because the students learned a lot, they had fun in the process and they were exposed to real life applications of GIS.

Cory believes the use of GIS in the classroom offers many benefits, including student engagement, inquiry based learning and decision making. His goal in the near future is to connect with a community partner on a class project that would benefit some aspect of an organization’s work and would be used by the general public. An example would be the creation of a tourism map of a town developed collaboratively by one of his geography classes.

A student map on schools and public water access in a slum in Kenya

To learn more about Cory, explore his Web site as it showcases the many ways GIS can be used in teaching and it highlights the work of a true GIS Champion in Canada. We look forward to seeing how he will implement ArcGIS Online in his teaching and we hope that his work will inspire other teachers to introduce GIS in their teaching.

Visit the GIS in the Classroom page to read more stories on other GIS Champions across Canada.

About the Author

Angela Alexander

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

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