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Thursday, April 23, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: Geography Text Includes ArcGIS Online Maps, New Geo for All School

First Geography Text Taps ArcGIS Online Maps

Dr. Erin H. Fouberg, professor of geography at Northern State (South Dakota) is a co-author.
After eight years of writing and revising, the first edition of Understanding World Regional Geography (Wiley, 2015), co-authored with Dr. William G. Moseley (Macalaster College) was released in March 2015. Understanding World Regional Geography is the first geography textbook to integrate live, digital maps that open in Esri’s ArcGIS Online program.
As I understand it, only the e-edition ($63) includes the interactive maps. The loose leaf and paperback versions do not ($115, $164 respectively). I found a sample chapter (in ISSU, an online magazine format) but no samples of the Esri maps or the materials to help students explore them.


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Monday, April 20, 2015

LiDAR Format Wars Creep into the Media

I've been in the GIS news business since GIS Monitor launched in 2000. My job for most of the last 15 years at several different publications, involved identifying and writing about what my colleagues and I considered important stories. For the last few months I've not done that sort of work. Instead, I've watched as others covered the industry news via tweets, press releases, blog posts, online articles and print content.
Image by √úleslaadija: Marek9134
CC BY-SA 3.0

LiDAR Format Wars

Depending on your GIS news reading habits, you may or may not know that there's been a "concern" about LiDAR exchange formats brewing. I first heard of it more than a year ago when Esri announced its optimized LiDAR format. I began following Martin Isenburg of rapidlasso, who's been very vocal about maintaining an open format and open access to it.

Last week several individuals concerned about open LiDAR exchange penned an open letter. The letter details the evolution of the open LAS format and how there's work to be sure it's not overshadowed by something less open. The letter includes specific requests to the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), Esri, users and sponsors of LiDAR data, and the ASPRS LAS working group. Just today rapidlasso announced new software to "free" LiDAR data
held in a closed format.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: Middle Schoolers Edit OSM, Research Agenda, Field Trips for Elementary Students

Teaching Middle School Girls About Geography via OpenStreetMap

A interesting tweet prompted me to contact Carolyn Fish (@cartofish), a geography PhD student at Penn State. She tweeted this last week:
Teaching middle school girls how to edit @openstreetmap @psugeography's Supporting Young Women in Geography Day! They had such a great time!
So I asked her about what she did and how she did it.
Bellefonte Area Middle School in OpenStreetMap
I am so glad you saw the tweet about Supporting Young Women in Geography (SYWIG) Day! SYWIG has been an event the Support Women in Geography (SWIG) organization in the Department of Geography has been organizing for many years. This year we hosted two schools, Moshannon Valley and Bellefonte middle schools with 28 middle school girls. The girls had a chance to experience and be exposed to all of the sub-fields of geography. 
I, along with Dr. Clio Andris, organized the GIS portion of the day. Clio introduced the girls to different types of maps and broadly explained the concept of GIS. The girls had fun identifying spatial patterns in the thematic maps Clio showed. I think it allowed them to think about geography in a different way than they probably have been taught in school. 
I organized the OpenStreetMap editing. I had opened openstreetmap.org and logged in as myself on all of the computers in our computer lab. I also had opened the wiki page where they could search for tags for things they might want to map. I explained broadly what OpenStreetMap was and they all seemed to understand that it was very similar to Wikipedia. I also explained that very few women edit the map and that they were helping out the mapping community with their local expertise. I told them they could map anything they wanted. I showed them very basically how to put a point and a polygon on the map. They didn't need much more instruction. I figured I would spend most of the time going around the room troubleshooting problems like all GIS instructors tend to do in undergraduate classes, but there was very little instruction needed.  
In general, because both of the schools are located in very rural places, their hometowns had not be thoroughly mapped. Neither of the schools had been placed on the map, and nearly all the businesses in their respective towns were not there until the girls digitized them last week. The girls had a ton of fun digitizing these places that have until now been ignored.  
It was interesting to overhear the girls talk about privacy. Some of them wanted to map out each other's homes. They had a few impromptu discussions about what that might mean when they wrote "Sarah's House" on a newly drawn polygon. I found this to be the most interesting. As a part of the GIS/geography community, I always find it interesting to think about how people outside my field think about geo-privacy. The girls were well aware that showing the world where each other lived might be a problem. In the end they all agreed not to put anyone's name on anything they digitized.  
The girls never seemed bored, all of them were highly engaged. I ended the session by telling them they could go and edit the map on their own with their own logins. I'm not sure how many will do it, but even if they don't, several places have now been mapped in rural PA that weren't there before!