Semantic Pathways for Building a Spatially-Thinking Society

December 2013 - December 2015

What is common in tasks such as reading a map, finding your way in a shopping mall, interpreting a diagram, and understanding the spatial distribution of a phenomenon or the association of places and events? They are all tasks that rely on a mental skill called spatial or geospatial thinking. Spatial thinking has lately been acknowledged as an important ability both for sciences and everyday life. Spatial thinking is considered a key ability for the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Research results stress the rewarding effects of developing geospatial skills in increasing the participation in STEM disciplines, lacking of which acts as a barrier for students leading them to dropout.

The pivotal role of spatial thinking in different levels of learning, as well as the accumulated experience and interest of the consortium in this field, were the main reasons for selecting to address the challenges of these needs over others.

Spatial thinking was supplanted in education for a long period of time by other forms of thinking (verbal, metaphorical, hypothetical, and mathematical). This distinct form of thinking is defined as a constructive synthesis of three components:

  • concepts of space
  • tools of representation
  • processes of reasoning

However, research has shown that these components of spatial thinking are not treated equivalently in education. Therefore, there is a clear need for enhancing and integrating the three components of spatial thinking and engaging users in more critical, inquiry-based teaching and learning methods. GEOTHNK brings together many different organisations with high quality and unique expertise in their field who have decided to join forces in a European effort to propose a scientifically grounded, technologically sustainable, and organisationally disruptive framework to meet the challenge for the development of new learning pathways across traditional education sectors and informal learning situations making effective use of open educational practices and resources.


  • National Technical University of Athens (Greece),
  • Cognitive Systems Research Institute (Greece),
  • Ellinogermaniki Agogi (Greece),
  • Intrasoft International S.A. (Luxembourg),
  • Association of Geographic Information Laboratories of Europe (The Netherlands),
  • Casa Corpului Didactic Cluj (Romania),
  • Konstantin Preslavsky University of Shumen (Bulgaria),
  • BMBF - Federal Ministry of Education and Women's Affairs (Austria),
  • Stichting GeoFort (The Netherlands).