Jonathan:  (I spell your name correctly this time, sorry about that):

> In Ontario, school boards are licensed to use ArcGIS. This is what many 
> municipal and regional GIS staff us. For the non-GIS experts it is not 
> user-friendly. I saw this first hand with an outdoor education teacher I was 
> observing as he tried to get his GPS data into the program. I also heard from 
> a group of teachers I spoke to a professional development session in Toronto 
> today that they would love to use GIS tools to teach problem-solving in their 
> courses, but not if the technology is too complicated or unreliable to use in 
> their classes. I know you’ll have an opinion about that, so fire away. I’m 
> trying to figure out what Keith pointed out with his experience in Manitoba.

To the specific point re: using GIS tools to teach problem-solving in their 
courses.  Commercial/professional GIS software (like ArcGIS) has, in my 
opinion, too steep a learning curve for most students (K-12 certainly, at 
secondary or tertiary education levels, less so).  I think we and many agree 
there.  Not surprisingly, I believe that OSM can act as an excellent bridge to 
this gap, as OSM has specific tools (like the iD editor and user-directed wiki, 
both reading it as self-directed pedagogy and writing it should the 
student/volunteer have something to contribute, whether that be a data update, 
status update, process contribution or news blurb).  So, should instructors 
want to use GIS tools to teach problem-solving, (as I read they do), using OSM 
is a great choice to do this:  it is widely accessible, its terms are not 
onerous, its learning curve is gentle, its community is friendly and helpful 
and its results can be impressive.

Such pilot projects (in Ontario or Manitoba...) should not (again, in my 
opinion) blur WikiProject BC2020 as they do this.  Smaller projects, especially 
as they have a local flavor (I'm making this up, but perhaps all public gardens 
in a medium- or large-city, or all schools being very micro-mapped in a small 
town...) are excellent "bite size learning examples" for students to take on in 
OSM.  Once these are "under one's belt," the more ambitious goals of BC2020 
might be incorporated, especially as the good lessons learned (in developing 
curriculum, wiki writing/communicating amongst yourselves, in noting the sorts 
of stumbling blocks or trouble with tools or process that happened along the 
way) then those can be very well applied to BC2020.  Not strictly required, but 
a suggestion which I think can go far.

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