GIS: Getting It Sorted

| More

Embedding GIS use in your Geography Department

GIS: three letters that could make a difference to the way you teach geography, offer students a new view of the world and enhance their understanding of natural and physical processes.

GIS stands for 'Geographic Information System', and refers to the use of a computer, a digital map and associated geographic data, along with a range of tools to help visualise, explore and question the data.

Introducing GIS poses a challenge for many subject leaders and teachers. The perceived complexity and high cost of GIS can be off-putting, as well as the technical issues of installing software on school networks.

About this course

This course aims to take you on a journey through a number of different tools for fulfilling the requirements of using GIS, and offers several entry levels. It will also support you through the curriculum making that will need to take place within your school in order to embed the use of GIS into your schemes of work in a way which enables progression for students.

You should set yourself the target of making some sort of learning breakthrough, which might be using a specific piece of technology for the first time with a group of students, or a particular pedagogical approach to a specific element of geography.

Working through the course

Most units will provide a few short activities and questions to encourage you to think about how you can develop an understanding of GIS and the benefits that its use can bring.

As with all of our online CPD courses, you may choose to work through the entire course or select the units that seem most useful and appropriate to you.

Approximate timings are given for each unit but you can of course take as long as you need.

Course units

Getting Started
Getting started 90 minutes plus one lesson

What is GIS and when, where and why should you and your students be using it?
GIS or visualisation?
GIS or visualisation? 45 minutes

An exploration of some of the visualisation tools you could use to introduce the idea of working with GIS, and their limitations.
Web based tools
Web based tools 45 mins for each tool in unit

Some examples of web based GIS-style tools which can be used to support the process of geographical enquiry.
GIS and controlled assessment
GIS and controlled assessment One department meeting

Some suggestions for how GIS could support the GCSE Geography controlled assessment process.
Very flat Norfolk
Very flat Norfolk 90 mins prep + lessons and evaluation time

A suggested enquiry sequence using DigitalWorlds GIS software to explore coastal management in Norfolk.
Pedagogy and thinking
Pedagogy and thinking One hour

How GIS can help with geographical enquiry in the classroom.
Links and resources
Links and resources

Additional online support and resources for teachers and students.

This course will clear up any confusion that you might have and take you to the 'next level' in your appreciation and use of GIS in the classroom. It will also go some way towards removing the current bias towards online material being mainly technical support and advice, rather than specific guidance for teachers.

It would be helpful to identify a colleague who you might want to share some of your thinking with as you work through the sections.

Gain recognition for engaging with this course

The Teacher Learning Academy (TLA) is the first national system for teacher learning and has been set up to support, recognise and celebrate the professional achievements of teachers. It actively encourages teachers to share knowledge, ideas and best practice.

The GA is a TLA Support Partner which means that if you are working towards TLA Stage One or Two verification you can use this course to provide the focus for your learning journey.

What is the TLA and how do I enrol?
Teacher Learning Academy website

Comment on this page

Comments made by GA members appear instantly and don't require security words to be entered - make sure you're logged in! Guest comments will be sent to a moderator for approval.


  • Primary Geography
  • Teaching Geography
  • Geography

Free access to subscribers

Online shop

Geography gives you options...

Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4

Geography gives you options...

£12.99 £8.99*
GA Full and Concessionary Members

  • Visit the Discover the World website for geography resources
Receive our email newsletters

Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates throughout the year.