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Digital Pedagogy: Spatial Arguments

mapping iconWhat is a spatial argument?

Spatial projects aim to use location information and mapping methodologies to make arguments that have a spatial component.

Learning objectives for digital assignments

Learning objectives are clearly defined statements of expected goals and outcomes from the student perspective. When a student finishes an activity or a lesson, what will they know, articulate, or be able to do?

Every digital pedagogy project should have learning objectives. Here are a few tips for creating student-centered objectives:

  • Relate the project to course objectives - what's the purpose of this digital element? Examples may include learning the digital tool, applying class knowledge, or communicating their research.
  • Consider transferable skills (creating a visual argument) rather than hard skills (use a dashboard in Tableau).
  • Create a rubric around the learning objectives to use when evaluating students' work.
  • Focus on the process, not the final product. 

Getting started: try Bloom's Taxonomy Action Verbs for sample action verbs to use in learning objectives.


Example learning objectives for spatial arguments

Students will be able to...

  • distinguish key historical events in the War of 1812 and the role that location played in the outcomes of those battles.
  • visualize the effects of hurricane flooding in North Carolina in order to compare resource allocation in eastern and western areas of the state.

Tools & Tutorials

Below are tools and guides to help you start a spatial project:

location icon ArcGIS Online - a popular online mapping platform.

UNC affiliates can access the online Esri platform (ArcGIS) by logging in with their ONYEN and password. See the GIS Software Guide for more information.

location icon ArcGIS Pro - a more robust online mapping platform.

Students can download ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Desktop for free through the ITS Software Acquisition siteSee the GIS Software Guide for more information.

location icon GRASS and QGIS - two free, open source mapping applications. 

See the GIS Software Guide for more information.

location icon ArcGIS StoryMaps - create guided stories based in interactive maps, text, and other media.

UNC affiliates can access the online Esri platform (ArcGIS) by logging in with their ONYEN and password.

location icon Google Maps - create custom annotated maps in the online Google platform.

location icon R and Python - R and Python are free programming languages that can be used for in-depth GIS analysis using large amounts of data. 

Icon "Location" by Larea from the Noun Project

Example Project

Sample projects coming soon!

Finding Help

To get started with spatial arguments after exploring this guide, contact Sarah Morris ( or (919) 962-2094).

Table of Contents

  • What is a spatial argument?
  • Creating learning objectives
  • Tools & tutorials
  • Sample project gallery
  • Finding help

City & Regional Planning Librarian

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Philip McDaniel
Digital Research Services, Davis Library

(919) 962-3788

Humanities Research and Digital Instruction Librarian

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Sarah Morris
Pronouns: She/her/hers
123 Davis Library