Learning with and from each other in the second Sense of Place workshop

Posted on April 13, 2023

The second project workshop of the Cognitive Geomatics project between the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HKA) in Germany and the University of Pretoria (UP) took place at the end of last year on the Hatfield Campus. This project also includes the University of Nairobi (UoN) in Kenya.

Germany, South Africa and Kenya are case studies in a project funded by the Baden-Württemberg-STIPENDIUM for University Students - BWS plus, a programme of the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung. This project, financed at a cost of €140 000, started in March 2022 and will continue until February 2025.

The second workshop, on the topic ‘Sense of Place – Crowd Mapping’ took place in September 2022, with Prof Dr-Ing Gertrud Schaab from HKA joining the workshop in Pretoria, while Prof Dr-Ing Faith Karanja from UoN participated remotely.

The group of final-year Geography students with Prof Dr-Ing Gertrud Schaab.

“According to Prof Serena Coetzee, Head of the UP Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, ”We continued our approach of learning with and from each other together with students.” A total of 120 final-year students in geography were involved. On the first day, Prof Coetzee introduced them to online crowd-mapping tools. Subsequently, students were divided into groups. Each group had to play with geospatial data collected through crowd mapping, considering the following questions: Could you infer something about ‘sense of place’? and If you had to use the tool to map sense of place for the Hatfield Campus, how would you approach it?

On the second day, Prof Nerhene Davis (UP) and Prof Schaab facilitated a feedback session with final-year Geography students about their Sense of Place assignment. The students were given the assignment a few weeks before the scheduled session. They were required to complete a group-based research report to investigate the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sense of place of residents within the City of Tshwane. The students presented their findings from the questionnaire-based interviews they conducted as an outcome of the exploratory research.

After each session, students reflected on their experiences with the crowd mapping tools and sense of place assignments respectively. Subsequently, the project partners further discussed and considered these reflections and how they should guide and inform the design of the digital teaching resources (for blended learning), to be developed and tested in 2023, again together with students. Despite physical distances, we plan to develop a portfolio of teaching and learning resources that can be used jointly at the three university sites to also, amongst others, create awareness of cultural differences in sense of place through the use of geomatics methods. The results of this workshop are invaluable for the remaining project milestones.

Final-year Geography students presenting about their sense of place assignments.

While at UP, Prof Schaab used the opportunity to introduce prospective final-year students to the chance of spending the summer semester of 2023 at the HKA in Germany. In addition, students were informed about the summer school to be held in Karlsruhe in September 2023. The funding of these exchanges is provided by this project, too.


- Author NAS / GGM

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