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Geography - A route to the future

What it's all about

Why is it that we'll happily use mobile phone apps and satnav to navigate Bluewater or other essential geographical meccas, but some of us still feel queasy about using digital mapping in the classroom, writes Paula Owens.

How, for example, do you use maps when discussing local journeys such as children's routes to school? Do you walk it using Street View? Do you draw a route using Scribble Maps? Do you add emoticons to show favourite spots on the route using Quikmaps? Free mapping programs such as these are intuitive and provide instant success with minimal effort.

Shift up a gear and try some of the free mapping mash-ups. TripGeo lets you input the start and end points of a journey and choose your mode of travel before showing you a split-screen, animated map and street view of your route. Get children to give a running commentary on their journey to school or challenge them to explore unfamiliar terrain. Ask why some places are covered by the technology and others are not. Use the tools to make risk assessments, as settings for stories or to plot alternative routes. Or why not take a virtual bike ride over the Alps? You could even have one of the maps "playing" on your whiteboard as a timing device: "By the time we get to Madrid from Alcala de Henares, you need to have finished ."

OS Digimap for Schools allows you to view, annotate, print and save maps of anywhere in Britain at a range of scales, and has supporting lesson ideas.

What else?

Check out DigimapforSchools on TES Resources. And help pupils to understand the local landscape with resources from OrdnanceSurvey.

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