M J 13: Introduction to Course, Course Projects, and Course Blogs

Deer with basketball stuck in antlers

Geography 355: a follow up to Geography 222 & 353

  • But no prereq!  Why?  Problems with this! Or not!
  • Best to take 222 then 353 then 355 – but any combination OK
Geographic Information Systems (GIS): technology & methods for analyzing spatial / geographic data (data with a geographic location associated with it).

Different ways to teach a geographic information systems (GIS) course like this one:

  • Lectures + series of exercises (Geog 222)
  • Lectures + one big exercise broken into parts (Geog 353)

Or get away from those formats: even more open, flexible, interactive: this class:

  • Student presentations of readings (w/some by me)
  • Self guided tutorial (w/my & classmates help)
  • Applied, real-world group project or projects (practicum, service learning, etc.)

Exhibit A: GIS Texts for course (Schuurman, Mitchell, Getting to Know ArcGIS 10) and software (ArcGIS)

  • GIS: set of concepts and hardware and software
  • Data input, analysis, output
  • Capabilities and applications expanding exponentially
  • Data Input (how?)
  • Data Layers (examples)
  • Data analysis (examples)
  • Data output (printer, webmaps, etc.)
  • ex) Delaware GIS Data in ArcGIS
  • all in a social/human context (Schuurman book)

Course goal: become familiar (or more familiar) with GIS concepts, functionality, software

Exhibit B: class student projects

GIS is so popular because it is useful: many applications, but GIS applications are a lot of work!

  • Data input: where is data from?  format?  what data do you need?
  • typical: 50% to 75% of time and cost is in finding and processing data in any GIS project
  • Output: on computer screen?  paper?  WWW?  To what audience?

The complexities of an actual application

  • Understand the software, your data and the application area, the research process, goals.
  • The human context: working in a group (collaboration: group member’s varying abilities and skills), project politics, costs involved, institutions within which GIS is supposed to function

Course Goal: Learn that GIS is a bunch of software functions in ArcGIS and much more than a bunch of software functions in ArcGIS

The goal this semester is to bring together exhibits A and B

  • Learn about GIS as a software tool: its functions, capabilities
  • Apply what we learn to a real world project
  • In working through a real world application we will learn what GIS is really about much more than just software and hardware

Geography 353: Scripted project, all figured out for you, me active, you more passive

  • Useful for learning…but…

This course: a bit more active learning for all of us

  • We will work as a group (or in sub groups) throughout the semester
  • You will be active in shaping what we do and how we do it
  • The success of the course depends on your engagement in the course
  • You will push yourself and me to get the most you can get out of this course

Problems: anxiety provoking, potential for disorder and problems, unmotivated & passive students

Benefits: learn a lot in “real world” setting with real problems to solve, forced to move beyond passive lump in class, maybe even have an impact

OWU students: smart, motivated, engaged; and small class sizes

  • Upper level courses should involve real engagement (so that is what I expect)

Bottom Line: for this course to work:

  • Active participation by all students: lumpen passivity not allowed
  • Collaboration with each other and OWU and community folks
  • Students should expect to play an active and vital role in the class and in the project!

Review: Syllabus and Schedule and General Course Structure (blog)

Create your Course Blog

1) go to wordpress.com

2) sign up and create a blog

3) set up the look of the blog and create some categories

  • Class Readings
  • Class Project
  • Class Exercises
  • Evaluations
  • Personal

4) new post: introduction to you

5) new post: Schurmann reading (ch. 1) notes, comments, questions

6) new post: One GIS application area of interest, with at least 3-5 sources/links & embedded graphics

7) email me the URL to your Blog by the end of class today and have the other stuff done by class time Wednesday.

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