Speaking at TEDx Tampa Riverwalk

posted Nov 24, 2014, 2:18 PM by justin b farrow   [ updated Nov 24, 2014, 2:30 PM ]

Virtual Tourism as the New Geography Class

Justin Farrow at TEDx Tampa River Walk
Last week I had a wonderful experience.  I was asked to present at the Tampa Riverwalk TEDx Event at the John F Germany Public Library.  In this post I will share some photos and slides from the event and in a few weeks when the recording comes available, I'll return and embed the presentation.  A special thank you goes out to my crew involved in Beautiful Nation Project, especially the dynamic Tonia Lovejoy for helping with putting my talk together.

Photos from TEDx Riverwalk Event

You can view all of the photos from the event here on Flickr or just the photos of myself on stage here.
Justin Farrow speaking presentation at TEDx Event
Presenter Justin Farrow Virtual Tourism as the New Geography Class
Justin Farrow Speaker TEDx Tampa


Background on My Topic

Speaking at Tampa Bay Riverwalk TEDx Conference on "Virtual Tourism as the New Geography Class" Educators around the globe are moving from “lower-tech” learning environments to “higher tech” learning environments as mobile devices, broadband Internet and satellite coverage become more affordable and accessible. This creates a growing need for professional development, and opportunities to leverage existing technologies of access, among educators internationally.

There are also curricular tensions facing educators globally. As the gap between the technical proficiency levels of educators and their students widens, so does the educators effectiveness as a communicator and mentor. Combine these realities with rapid population growth (‘not enough books, not enough desks’), limits on natural resources (access to clean water, air, food), geopolitical and sociopolitical challenges (civil war, recessions, natural disasters), and GEOSOCIAL NETWORKING becomes a CRITICAL TOOL for educators to not only communicate with each other, but to better communicate with their students.

In an effort to better prepare educators for success, and help them to teach global competence skills, we utilize the core geographic literacy assessment tools of our sponsor nonprofit, Reach the World. In 2003, RTW asked the question, "How do young students learn to draw an accurate map of the world?" The National Geographic Education Foundation funded the research, and RTW partnered with Columbia University Teachers College to conduct the research at public elementary schools in New York City. What we learned is that learning to draw an accurate map of the world requires cognitive development - skills like spatial relations, nesting, scale, size and orientation - and that those skills can be improved upon when a personal connection is made to a geographic location.

Geographic literacy is more than places on a map. It is a deep awareness of the interconnectedness of our world cultures and societies, economics and natural resources. It means conjuring up a mental map in your mind that is both accurate, and empathic. It is the key to effective virtual collaboration and can be taught through geosocial networking.