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Thursday, April 9, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: Students Making Map, New MOOCs and non-MOOCs, Smart Mapping


Wesleyan Students Make a Story Map of Campus

The team used ArcGIS and ArcGIS Online to make the map (current version) of the Wesleyan campus per an interview with DeNeile Cooper in the school paper. I found the reflection on the project prompted by the question "What did you learn in the process?"most interesting.
The Map Journal-based story map does not have a legend
just yet, but it is a works in progress.
I think we all learned a great deal about patience from the project. Many of the steps were so elaborate that we would spend a full hour working on something, step away from it, and not be able to readily tell what had been done. I personally gained a great deal of respect for the opportunities that ArcGIS opens up. There are so many stories, concepts and theories that can be more effectively communicated by using the tools that ArcGIS provides to create a map that is at once critically engaging and artistically appealing. Working on the project also deepened my appreciation for the work that Physical Plant staff members do each day. The database and map that we received from them was very thorough in its description for each building, and I think that’s indicative both of how much work the staff members put into making sure the university is run well, and how knowledgeable they are of the campus in a way that no student could conceive of. Paraphrasing artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles here, thank you, Physical Plant, for keeping Wesleyan alive.
I hope the students find a way to embed their names as map authors on the Map Journal-based story map. I am regularly frustrated by story maps where I cannot determine authorship!

Mapmaker Matchmaker: Suchi Gopa and the Power of Maps

This article from Boston University profiles GIS professor Sucharita Gopal. Sounds like an important voice in GIS education that I've yet to meet!

New Courses/Workshops

New QGIS 2.8 Course

A new course focuses on version of QGIS 2.8.1. Pay $49 (not sure if it's US or AU) and you have access indefinitely. Four other QGIS 2.8.1 courses are coming to the Discover Spatial platform over the next two months. Look for an interview with Discover Spatial's co-founder next week. Courses at the GeoAcademy are still $25 each. There are no current plans to re-run the QGIS MOOC.

University of West Florida GIS MOOC

Amber Bloechle, GIS Director at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL will be teaching an asynchronous MOOC beginning April 20.

University of Minnesota Spatial Boot Camp

The UMN Summer Spatial Boot Camp is open to the public and aimed at anyone with a "working knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)... In particular, familiarity with ArcGIS or comparable software packages is required." The fee is $250 with a cap of 30 students for the August 10th to 14th, 2015 event.

Rhode Island ConnectED Summer GIS Institute
Rhode Island Geography Education Alliance (RIGEA) and the Rhode Island Geographic Information System (RIGIS) are offering a 4-day summer GIS institute for teachers called Get ConnectED! Online Mapping for New England Educators. New England K-12 teachers from upper elementary through high school are invited to apply to the Get ConnectED! institute. The institute will be held at Rhode Island College from July 27-30, 2015. Each participating teacher will receive a stipend of $300.
Participants must cover travel and lodging and submit some homework after the workshop. Applications are due May 1.


The Washington Post Wonk Blog offers a map quiz: How well do you know the American landscape? It's a nice "warm up" exercise for a class or conference session. More on the maps and how they were made at FastCo.

And, here's one about Washington D.C.

Smith College Explores Issues Related to Drones

As part of Connecting Point from WGBY in Springfield, MA Spatial Analysis Lab Director Jon Caris and Smith College Engineering Professor Paul Voss talk about the school's exploration of the place and regulation of drones. They bring up some valuable insights in six minutes.

Hawaii Community College Adds GIS Certificate

The hybrid (some online, some face-to-face) program starts in May.
Geospatial Technology courses will teach students to use technology such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and Remote Sensing (RS) to visualize, measure, and analyze the earth’s features. Geospatial technology is widely used for military and homeland security applications as well as land use, floodplain mapping, and environmental protection. Geospatial Technology students will also learn land surveying, geomatics, and computer aided drafting (CAD). This industry is expected to experience 20 percent job growth during the next 10 years.

30 Scholarships to State of the Map Conference

Scholarship sponsors American Red Cross, Google, the World Bank and Mapbox have funded 30 people from different geographies and industries to attend the U.S. even to be held in New York City. There were 230 applications. Educators and students take note of these scholarships as you consider future conference opportunities!

Open with… CartoDB

Unless you were paying close attention you may have missed the announcement that Data.gov has added a new "open with" tool to its datasets. The button currently allows the user to open a dataset in CartoDB (for geodata) or Plotly (for data to be graphed).

This past week CartoDB announced a generic button anyone can put on any generic dataset to do the same thing. It's one line of HTML. Sure sounds like a great tool to show the power of IMMEDIATELY visualizing data to students and others. It's perhaps the best thing for this purpose since the ability to visualize GeoJSON in GitHub.

Kentucky Geographic Alliance Gets ConnectED Grant for Geomentor Training Site
The Kentucky Geographic Alliance (KGA) is developing an online GIS training site for K-12 educators. This site will be used to introduce Geomentors to local schools for basic GIS integration into the curriculum. The KGA has received funding from Esri to provide multiple levels of training for interested K-12 teachers, with emphasis on ArcGIS Online (AGO) as the entry point for both teachers and students.
I've found two workshops (1, 2) in the last two months aimed at geometers.

Smart Mapping and Education

I've heard surprisingly little, actually nothing, from the GIS education community about Esri's addition of "Smart Mapping" to ArcGIS Online. There's an article on it in the latest ArcNews and this blog post from March covers the same content. Here are the key points on the new addition:
Smart mapping is designed to give people confidence and power to quickly make maps that are visually stunning and useful. This makes it easier than ever for you to create attractive maps, maps that tell important stories. ... 
Esri's goal is to take the guesswork out of the hundreds of available settings and choices so your maps are cartographically appropriate and look wonderful. Even if you don't have a degree in cartography or GIS, you will be successful. This also means you can work much faster because you spend less time iterating versions of your maps.
Will the addition of Smart Mapping to AGOL, and in time to other Esri offerings change how you teach the basics of cartography? Or is this the next logical evolution of cartographic defaults? Will  students learn less about cartographic principles?

Students Make Maps

Central Connecticut Students Design Maps; GIS Apparently not Needed
When Central Connecticut State University professor Eleanor Thornton and the students in her design class first heard about plans for the CTfastrak rapid bus project, they had no idea they would end up creating a high-profile component of the $347 million transportation system.

But in the spring of 2014, state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials reached out to Central Design, the design department’s in-house studio, and asked if CCSU could create a series of colorful, large-scale maps of the busway’s 10 stations.
Accuracy was very important, but the only software mentioned in the article in the local paper was Adobe Illustrator.

University of Redlands students Share Holocaust Memoir Story Maps

Students in the University of Redlands ENGL 261: Holocaust Memoirs: Reading, Writing, Mapping created interactive, layered GIS maps of several survivors journeys as Esri Story Maps. Teams will present them tomorrow (Apr 10) on campus.

Details on 2015 Undergraduate Geospatial Technology Skills Competition

The GeoTech Center and URISA are running the 2015 Undergraduate Geospatial Technology Skills Competition. Details of how to apply and the judging rubric are on the website, and the key date is: June 12. All materials must be submitted no later than midnight Eastern Time that day. Winners get trip to the GIS-Pro & NWGIS 2015 Conference. Two and four year college students over 18 who live in the U.S. are eligible.

iScore5 for Advanced Placement Geography is Out

The review app for APHG for iPhone and iPad has been in the iTunes store for about two weeks and has a 4.5 star rating from 23 reviewers. That said, two of three reviewers who shared feedback requested explanations for wrong answers. That was my request when I explored the app last month.



UCGIS announced that Dr. Shashi Shekhar, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Minnesota, has been selected to receive its 2015 Education Award. Professor Shekhar received this award for his myriad contributions to GI science education over the past twenty years.

Dr. Harvey Miller, the Bob and Mary Reusche Chair in Geographic Information Science and Professor of Geography at The Ohio State University, has been singled out for recognition as the recipient of its 2015 Research Award.  Dr. Miller has been a pioneer in research related to space-time GIScience.


The National Council for Geographic Education announced too many awards for me to republish here. Read the press release.

Other Post(s) this Week at Ignite Education

The Vegetables of Recent Geospatial News and Opinion