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Demystifying map projections for geography students

Authors: Sarah Battersby*, Tableau Software, Fritz Kessler, Penn State University
Topics: Geography Education, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: map projections, geography education
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 2:15 PM / 3:30 PM
Room: Virtual Track 9
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Teaching and learning about map projections is often considered to be a difficult topic. After more than two decades of teaching and helping others with assorted map projection problems, we have found that many instructors feel uncomfortable with their depth of projection knowledge, which makes it difficult to then teach map projections to their students. Our work with students has also led us to believe that even with the resources provided by their instructor, and in most GIScience and cartography textbooks, there is either insufficient explanation, or too technical of an explanation, to help a student choose and then justify the selection of a specific map projection for analysis or presentation. Because map projections are an integral part of any mapping project, it is critical that an appropriate projection is chosen. But, how can someone learn the nuances of selecting an appropriate projection, and feel confident that it is a good choice? The lack of approachable resources has led us to create ‘Working with Map Projections’ a guide for explaining the process and trade-offs for selecting map projections based on map type and the tasks that map readers may perform. In this presentation we discuss the ideas contained within the ‘Working with Map Projections’ book and how it can help instructors and students more effectively select and work with map projections in large- and small-scale mapping projects.

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