Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 4200-4208
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.2018
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The aim of this paper is to present the learning experience and outcomes of “MiniMapathon”, a cooperative mapping event tried out for the first time with almost 250 primary school children. The paper consists of an introduction on Mapathon, a description of the educational experiment held at Politecnico di Milano and, finally, of an analysis of the emerging data.

Maphaton or mapping party usually consists in a coordinate happening which convenes volunteers from all over the world to digitally build maps of vulnerable places through the OpenStreetMap platform.

The experience was adapted to children by the researchers of two labs of Politecnico di Milano, GEOlab (Geomatics and Earth Observation laboratory), with a considerable know-how in mapping activities, and HOC-LAB (Hypermedia Open Center laboratory), with a remarkable expertise in the field of educational technology, in cooperation with HOT (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team) and Missing Maps, two NGOs coordinating humanitarian mapping projects worldwide.

The MiniMapathon was designed according to pedagogical theories, in particular the authentic learning (Shaffer & Resnick; Herrington & Oliver) and the distributed TPACK model (Mishra et al.), and curricular and extracurricular objectives. The motivation behind the initiative was to improve - while enjoying mapping - the students’ knowledge of maps, their attitude towards Geography and, finally, their technological skills. Furthermore also the humanitarian aspect related to active citizenship competencies was taken into account: students were asked to map West Swaziland, in order to help NGOs to better respond to the malaria issue.

The initiative evaluation was carried out by interviewing teachers and by collecting the students’ feedback using a survey. The results, exceeding expectations, showed not only the acquisition of substantial learning benefits and outcomes in pupils, but also positive effects on how the discipline itself is regarded.

On one side, teachers underlined how Geography is a “Cinderella” discipline, meaning that the majority of the out of class activities offered by and to schools (school outings, workshops, labs…) cover the most the fields of history, art history, science and math. On the other side, students were interested and involved - also thanks to the good balance between competition and cooperation - and they stated to have learnt something new and that the technological tools were easy to be used.

In conclusion, the paper points out the willing of proponing the “MiniMapathon” to more classes, in order to investigate and deepen its learning potential and to turn the experience into an easily exportable and repeatable activity in Italy and abroad.
Geoinformatics, mapathon, mapping, education technology, edutainment, geography, primary school.