JIS News

The National Spatial Data Management Branch (NSDMB) has reiterated its commitment to help students overcome the challenge of access to virtual learning amid schools’ excitement to participate in virtual Geographic Information System (GIS) Day activities on November 17.

Providing details at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’ on the Branch’s activities for Geography Awareness Week (November 9 to 19), Acting Principal Director of the NSDMB, Simone Lloyd, said that schools are still excited to participate in the virtual events that are planned.

“Schools are always excited to participate in GIS Day. Usually, we get them calling months ahead of November when the week’s activities take place. Teachers will tell you, and so would we, that nothing beats face-to-face, being physically present at UWI Mona with the excitement of all these bright booths with buzzing geospatial technologies that they can touch and interact with,” said Ms. Lloyd.

With the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSDMB will, for a second year, host its GIS Day Expo virtually, via Microsoft Teams and YouTube.

“We are happy that although it is not the same when we go virtual, schools are still excited with respect to participating. We, too, are excited that several of them have caught on and they have registered and will be taking part in the competitions, and we wish them all the best in participating and winning the prizes we have for them,” Ms. Lloyd said.

The Acting Principal Director noted that participation is one of the challenges that the Branch now faces with the virtual modality.

In previous years, students from participating schools would spend the day at the University of the West Indies, Mona, fully engaged in the various activities planned.

However, the activities now compete with ongoing online classes and the connectivity challenges faced by some students who would be interested to take part.

“We would have heard, over time, the challenges these students have to live with in terms of Internet connectivity issues and device issues. When we have a virtual event, these factors play a part. With that, a major thrust where these school competitions are concerned is to provide tablets. So, the first-place prize for these competitions will be tablets and we are pushing that, because we know that access to devices is a challenge being experienced by students,” explained Ms. Lloyd.

Tablets for all winners are being sponsored by the National Housing Trust (NHT), one of the Branch’s partners in hosting the Geography Awareness Week activities.

Throughout GIS Day, students will be engaged in various competitions that require them to use and test their knowledge of geographic information systems. These competitions include the Create a Story Map Competition, Spatial App Competition, Treasure Hunt Competition, and GIS Bee Competition.

Prior to the day, students would make submissions to the Essay, Poster and Jingle Competitions.

GIS Day and Geography Awareness week are being observed under the theme ‘Geospatial Technologies: Navigating the New Normal’.

The NSDMB is an agency of the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change.

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