Speaker: Ate Poorthuis, KU Leuven

Event title: Explorable notebooks for spatial analysis: Simulation, games, and exploration in geography education

About the event

Although simulations are a frequently-used toolkit in spatial analysis – for example through agent-based modelling, they aren’t as commonly used in teaching about spatial analysis, or geography more generally. This relative lack of simulation use in our day-to-day pedagogy is especially remarkable since geographers have been interested in teaching with simulations and games since the 1960s, with some promising results. Yet, this early interest hasn’t necessarily translated into a wider adoption of these techniques in today’s geography education.

In this talk, Ate will start by highlighting some of the pioneering work on simulation and games in teaching spatial analysis tracing back from the 1960s to recent years. Ate will argue, a significant impediment to more widespread adoption of this creative work can be traced to the (lack of) availability of easy-to-use tools to create and share such simulations. Here, the computational notebook and its surrounding ecosystem, which have rapidly become a standard approach in spatial analysis, provide a unique opportunity to address this obstacle today.

Ate will present a software library that extends the concept of computational notebooks into ‘explorable’ notebooks and facilitates the development of explorable, interactive content and simulations for teaching. To illustrate the potential use of such an approach in geography, I will showcase and discuss a few specific simulations built to explain concepts from a spatial analysis and urban geography curriculum.