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Monday, October 15, 2012

The New Face of GIS Training

The new paradigm of GIS training (and perhaps education, too) is upon us. It's epitomized by shorter, more focused and less expensive classes, if not full courses. These classes are being created and taught not by only by traditional academics (with current or paste employment at a K-12 school, college or university), but by our peers, GIS practitioners.

Last week two such offerings crossed my browser. These individuals are among the pioneers in this sort of training.

Gretchen Peterson is offering a four hour workshop at Colorado State University.
Geospatial Workshop: Introduction to Cartography

Join the Geospatial Centroid on Friday, October 26, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., for a workshop with renowned cartographer, Gretchen N. Peterson (see: http://www.gretchenpeterson.com/blog). The workshop will introduce you to general concepts of cartography, design principles, and introductory skills for adding clarity to your maps. The cost for the workshop is $60 and is payable either by CSU Account number or by check at the workshop. Please register by October 19! Spaces are limited.
Rolling Hills Consulting is offering a course on LiDAR and ArcGIS.
Course Title: How to download LiDAR files and process them in ArcGIS to make a high resolution bare earth Digital Elevation Model (DEM).
Software Required: ArcGIS 10.0 and 3D Analyst extension
Course Cost: $25.00 (if you are interested please click the PayPal Add to Cart button and send us an e-mail).
Course Description: Iowa has acquired LiDAR data statewide. The Iowa Geological and Water Survey have available to download already processed DEMs from the raw LiDAR data at a 3-Meter resolution. One may want to process their own DEMs at other resolutions to bring out subtle elevation changes. This course shows the student how to download LiDAR files and process them in ArcGIS 3D Analyst to create their own DEMs and also how to view those DEMs as 3-dimensional surfaces in ArcScene.
I'm very excited about the potential of these short term, focussed offerings. After reading these short descriptions, I didn't get all the information I needed about the classes. The good news is that when queried, Chad Goings, President of Rolling Hills Consulting and Gretchen Peterson of Peterson GIS provided the details I requested. Goings agreed that adding the information he provided me would be valuable in his marketing. Peterson put up a blog post addressing my questions.

Here are the things I wanted to know as I ponder whether I'd like to attend a single class (or a whole course) from a person/organization (beyond the title, when, where and how much it costs):
  • Who wrote/is giving the class? What kind of GIS and/or teaching experience do they have?
  • Is the course face-to-face, online (synchronous or asychronous), a tutorial that I do on my own  or something else? 
  • Are there any pre-requisites or knowledge that will make the course more valuable?
  • Will the course be all lecture or will there be discussion, projects, etc.?
  • What are the learning objectives (at the end of the course, what will I be able to do)?
  • What materials do I need for the class (pen and paper, hardware, software, OS requirement, headset mike, etc.)?
  • What materials will I receive (PowerPoints, PDFs, access to online content, printed materials, software, DVDs, etc.)?
  • Will there be evaluations of what I've learned (exercises, quiz, discussion, formal paper, etc.)?
  • Will I receive a credential at the end to confirm I've completed the class (badge, certificate, letter of completion, etc.)?
  • Do any bodies recognize the course for points or credit (GISCI GISP point, CEUs, etc.)?
This is same information a school faculty member or corporate trainer would share about an upcoming course. These short form courses are aiming to do the same kinds of training, just at a different scale.