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Monday, February 8, 2016

Hanging with GIS Educators in Maine: Just Click all the Buttons

MEGUG's GIS / Educators Conference, held last Friday in Freeport, Maine was not large. I suspect even if it hadn't snowed Friday morning, there wouldn't have been too many other attendees. But, as I've learned, sometimes those tiny meeting are the best.

I spent the day in the education track, which had between 10 and fifteen people for most of its four presentations (pdf of agenda). I wanted to share some of the presenters' and attendees' key ideas, as well as some of the thoughts that popped into my mind during the sessions.

Organizing Processes for Educators and Students 

I now have a handout titled Many Ways to Bring Your Data into ArcGIS Online. (It and other docs are here.) It details 10 different ways to bring "internal" and "external" data into ArcGIS Online. This is how an educator thought to teach other educators about the various processes. I searched the Web a bit and could not find any other document arranged quite this way. Educators think about teaching/learning/organizing differently than others.

Reinventing the Wheel  

While we explored the different ways to bring in data, specifically downloading and publishing data from the Maine Office of GIS during the above workshop, one attendee spoke up. He asked in essence, why the state does not offer these data as feature services. He asked educators and GIS professionals to let the states (and I'll argue any other orgs) know the value of these services to educators and their students.

Professional vs. Educational Software

I was reminded as presenters and attendees got lost among menus and had error boxes pop up, that ArcGIS is not designed for education.It is designed for professionals/experts. This is a blessing and a curse for educators and students.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

GIS Education Weekly: Has All the Buzz Gone out of Geo-MOOCs?

Response to Coursera GIS Specialization

I was excited to learn of the Coursera GIS specialization I wrote about last week. I thought it was big news. But at least with my community of readers, it isn't. Web and social media searches turn up few mentions and suggest either the news has not reached too far or it's just not worth sharing.

I wonder if we are post Geo-MOOC. I wonder if other MOOCs are sucking the oxygen out of this program. I wonder if the lack of marketing from Coursera and/or UC Davis limited reach of the news. I wonder if there is less demand for an ArcGIS for Desktop specialization than expected. I wonder if the "fee" is making this a non-starter. I wonder if the potential for the credential to help with job prospects is slim.

Another Look at the Future of Geospatial

NGAC, the National Geospatial Advisory Committee, identifies key trends that will define the geospatial industry in the future. It's a 10 page PDF from December titled The Changing Geospatial Landscape: A Second Look.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

GIS Education Weekly: UC Davis Launches Five Course GIS Specialization on Coursera

UC Davis Launches Five Course GIS Specialization on Coursera

Basics

In February the University of California Davis will launch a series of five GIS MOOCs, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialization, on the Coursera platform. The four "lecture" courses can be taken individually. But if you pay for all of them, along with a capstone project course, and pass all of them, you can earn a specialization in GIS.

Nick Santos, Geospatial Applications Researcher and Jeff Loux, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Science, Agriculture and Natural Resources & Associate Adjunct Professor are the instructors.

The specialization is in partnership with Esri and uses its software. Esri's David DiBiase described the company's participation this way:
At their request, we’re helping UC-Davis to provide no-cost Student licenses of ArcGIS for Desktop.
The specialization includes five courses:

1 Fundamentals of GIS
2 GIS Data Formats, Design and Quality
3 Imagery, Modeling and Applications
4 Geospatial and Environmental Analysis
5 Capstone: Geospatial Analysis