May’s GIS Ambassadors: Scott Humphrey and Hodan Jama from Edmonton

May 28, 2019 Angela Alexander

Scott Humphrey and Hodan Jama are May’s GIS Ambassadors from the Edmonton Public Schools. Discover how they are promoting the use of GIS in the K-12 classroom in Alberta.

Scott Humphrey and Hodan Jama are this month’s featured GIS Ambassadors. They have been supporting the use of GIS at Edmonton Public Schools Board (EPSB) for the last 2 years. EPSB staff participate in the Marketplace program, an initiative under Career Pathways, that has professionals go into classrooms, discuss their careers and educational backgrounds, and promote different careers options to the students.

Through the Marketplace program, Hodan and Scott have presented to grade 1 to 9 students in nine different EPSB schools. During the school visits, students learn about GIS by exploring a web map that displays where all the students from their school live and they find their own homes on the map. This activity is always a big hit with the students and it ties in with ‘geographic thinking’ in the curriculum. Hodan and Scott end their presentation showing GIS applications in different industries in Canada.

Currently, there are 32 community organizations and 130 K-12 teachers participating in the Marketplace program involving 72 schools. Other GIS Ambassadors from Edmonton are also supporting this initiative.

Why is being a GIS Ambassador Important?

Scott and Hodan believe it’s important to promote GIS to students and teachers as it’s a valuable tool that can be used to gain a deeper understanding of complex problems in the world and to engage students in their own learning. Exploring GIS is a great way for students to see that understanding GIS is linked to many opportunities in post-secondary education and professionally.

Hodan Jama, GIS Technician and Scott Humphrey, GIS Data Planner are active GIS Ambassadors from EPSB.

Scott was introduced to GIS while he was in southern Italy working on an archaeology project where he digitized site drawings and managed field site surveys. After completing the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (SAIT) Bachelor of Applied Technology Geographic Information Systems (BGIS) he was offered a position at EPSB as the first dedicated GIS staff member. With the support of his manager, Jennifer Thompson, who was strategic in implementing the use of GIS at EPSB, Scott was able to further develop the GIS program, expanding its uses, and making it an indispensable tool for designating school catchment areas, and analysis at the micro and macro level to support decision making at all levels. He would like to do the same for education and Hodan shares that goal. Within one year, Hodan joined the team and they continue to expand the use of GIS in supporting the school district with mapping, analysis, tools, and data.

Hodan graduated from Fanshawe College’s GIS and Urban Planning program in London, Ontario. Currently, she’s pursuing her BGIS online from SAIT. Prior to joining the school district, she held GIS positions at the City of Calgary and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in Ottawa.

Hodan presenting the importance of GIS to students.

What’s Coming Up?

In the new school year, Scott and Hodan will continue their work as GIS Ambassadors and have planned to work on the following items: 

  1. During the Marketplace sessions, they will use ArcGIS Online to create activities for students to participate in and create using Chromebooks. They recently shared a new resource with curriculum coordinators about Landforms in Canada, in hopes that they will use this resource in the fall. This ArcGIS Online activity allows students to explore some of the landforms that make up Canada, and how they affect where people live. This will help students develop competencies included in the Alberta curriculum, like critical thinking and problem solving.
  2. So that teachers and students can gain quick access to the site, they will be working with their IT department to configure the ArcGIS Online single-sign-on feature through Google Suite.  
  3. They are planning a GIS Day event at EPSB that will be promoted to K-12 students and teachers and will be open to staff and the public. This is an opportunity for EPSB to share interesting maps and the work they are doing with GIS.

We look forward to hearing more from Scott and Hodan in the fall. If you are a K-12 teacher, connect with a GIS Ambassador in your area. Read about other GIS Ambassadors who are busy supporting the use of GIS in K-12 education.

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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