Digital worlds - using Landmark`s historical maps for schools


Courtesy of Landmark Information Group

Teachers and their pupils can now have access to digital historical maps, supplied by Landmark Solutions, through Digital Worlds' innovative new educational software package.

Landmark's extensive and unique digital archive of historical maps covers the whole of Great Britain and gives a complete step-by-step picture of the land use changes that have taken place between the 1840s and the 1990s.

The archive was created as a joint venture between Landmark and Ordnance Survey, by digitising Ordnance Survey's entire archive of paper maps, and now contains one million maps.

The Digital Worlds software incorporates a state of the art Geographical Information System (GIS), which makes full use of a range of geographic teaching tools to explore local history and geography. In addition to the Historical Maps it includes a wide range of other datasets, including current OS digital mapping, high quality aerial photographs and Census 2001 data, all customised to the school's local area. The software allows the historical mapping to be overlaid with the current mapping and the aerial photographs so that changes over time can be identified and analysed.

As schools develop their use of the software, additional datasets can be acquired so that comparisons can be made for contrasting areas e.g. a rural versus urban area. Schools who take pupils on field trips can also buy data for the area they are visiting so that investigations can begin prior to the field trip.

The software took five years to develop and is designed to be used in both Primary and Secondary schools, across the Key Stages. It can be used by teachers without the need for any specialist training. As Jason Sawle, developer of Digital Worlds' GIS says 'Teachers do not want to become GIS experts, but welcome the chance to engage and excite pupils using maps and images using the latest technologies.'

He adds 'Pupils become easily engaged with the software because it offers a different perspective of a familiar environment and so their level of interest in using and applying the data is high'

Amongst the schools already using the software and the Historical Maps contained within it is West Minster Primary School near Sheerness, Kent.

Teacher Tracey Cadwalladder commented on their use of the software and data 'In the geography curriculum there are many areas that this software can support; map skills, locating your house, finding your school, following your route to school; looking at the environmental changes, seeing how the local area has changed in the last 100 years or comparing your locality to another locality anywhere in the UK. Comparisons between villages, towns or cities can easily be undertaken.'

'I used the Digital Worlds GIS with a group of Year 4 pupils who were looking at the local environment to see how it had changed. We started by looking at current OS maps (1: 25 000) and contrasting them with aerial photographs. The children found their own house and were able to follow the roads to find the local docks at Sheerness near Blue Town. Using the historic maps (first edition OS maps from 1860) we then identified how this area had changed using the slide and translucent buttons so they could compare both pictures. Using the measuring tool, we then calculated the shortest route to walk to Blue Town and walked to the area to find historic features still present today and used this to discuss how the past has influenced the present.'

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