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Thursday, July 2, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: ConnectED at 2, R Course, When Maps Lie

ConnectED at Year Two

The White House put out a fact sheet about its ConnectED Initiative now that it's two years old. Esri has been in the program for one year at this point (press release from 2014).

Here's how Esri was listed among the private sector contributors:
Esri: Providing $[sic] free access to ArcGIS Online Organization accounts – the same Geographic Information Systems mapping technology used by government and business – to every K-12 school in America to allow students to map and analyze data.
I'm not sure why a dollar amount was not included; it was for other companies.

Esri put out a map: the national map of ConnectED commitments from a handful of companies:

U of A Putting GIS in the Library

Staff members of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Collections and Archives division plan to create a service to improve students’ research capabilities. The division was awarded a $4,000 grant to develop GIS support for student research at Ottenheimer Library.
The grant is seed money for the library to install a GIS workstation, train librarians and staff on GIS theory and methodology, and support the development of an interdisciplinary GIS project in collaboration with faculty.


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Top GIS Score? Win a Prize!

Lone Star College-CyFair students were recognized for academic achievement and improvement at its Spring 2015 Advanced Technology Awards program. Gary Holmstrom "won" in GIS.
Holmstrom earned a hand-held GPS unit for his near perfect score in all three GIS courses, willingness to assist other students and active promotion of GIS courses.
“The quality of his lecture and lab work puts him in the upper echelon of his cohort,” Professor Michael Konvicka said. “And he has shown significant enthusiasm for the subject matter.”
I hope the added accolade helps the student in his job search!

Northeastern to Teach Open Source GIS

I dug this out of the USGIF awards press release:
In 2016, he [Academic Research Award Winner, George “Stan” Bosarge, from the University of Southern Alabama] will join the Northeastern University faculty to teach a class on free and open-source GIS desktop applications in the university’s geographic information technology program.
The Only Community College in the NGA/USGS Excellence Program
Roane State Community College, working in partnership with Oak Ridge Associated Universities, was recently selected as a designated Center for Academic Excellence in Geospatial Sciences
Roane State, which offers one-year and two-year programs in geographic information systems, or GIS, was the only community college chosen for the program and joins 17 CAE GS academic institutions nationwide.
I confess I've never heard of that school nor its GIS programs! The school is in Harriman, Tennessee.

When Maps Lie

This well-done article is a sort of mini-version of Mark Monmonier's How to Lie with Maps. The author, Andrew Wiseman, is a geographer with the USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives who teaches cartography and GIS at George Washington University. I think it'd be valuable in high school and college courses in geography  and GIS.

Map the Census with R E-mail Course

Writes Ari Lamstein, a software consultant who programs in R
Mapping Census Data in R. You can sign up via the form at the bottom of this post. The course is designed to provide similar information to what I covered in my tutorial Analyzing US Census Data with R. In short, it will teach you how to create choropleth maps of US demographics ...
The five part course is delivered via e-mail and runs 15 days; three days between lessons. You'll get the first lesson when you sign up. The first part covers installing R.

If you think R is not a big deal, note that many big players (Google, Microsoft, Oracle) are behind a new R foundation announced this week.

What High School Students Learn in College Level GIS Course

Last week I quoted a Washington-Lee student in James Madison's Geospatial Semester program who noted that she "learned how to use ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS Online to analyze...." spatial data in her GIS courses. This week an AAG article, written by an AAG staffer who attended presentations by her fellow students, suggests something similar.
The students in the course had worked over the course of the year to master the basics of using ArcGIS and learning how to manipulate and analyze geospatial data.
You can view some of the student projects in ArcGIS Online; some are story maps, others are not.

The colleges where I've taught prohibit "teaching software." It's worth noting that while those using GIS can certainly take tests to show proficiency with software (such as Esri's), there is also an effort these days on separating the concepts from the software.

A Look at at GIS Program/Employer Relationship in Wisconsin

The local paper highlights the relationship between Continental Mapping Consultants, a Sun Prairie Wisconsin GIS company, and UW-Eau Claire's GIS program. The program received a state grant that was used in part for video-conferencing technology. It was not for teaching but for supporting internships with distant employers. The campus is planning a new geospatial degree planned for 2016 integrated with computer science and other topics.

OGC e-Learning Materials Updated

We have made some progress developing OGC online training material. I have updated the wiki to reflect the latest. Here we have the logical groupings we are thinking about in order to make the standards easier to digest and explain, and maybe in the future to provide professionals OGC certification. https://github.com/opengeospatial/e-learning/wiki/Content
Free Open Source Python Book!

You can download Dive into Python (version 1, 2004) free, under an open license here, courtesy of the author, who now works at Google. Or you can get version 3 from 2011 (under a different open license) here. Or you can follow this link or this one and fill out a form and have a payment (typically $1) sent to the owners of those websites.

That's how all those "free book" and "free magazine" offers from NetLine/TradePub work. This is in part how the sites hosting the sign-up forms stay in business.

Bowdoin Maps Students Summer Locations
For the third year, Bowdoin’s Digital and Social Media team has created a map to track students’ summer locations. Katherine Gracey ’16, the digital and social media intern, sent out an email earlier in the summer asking students — including incoming first-years — to submit information on where they are and what they are doing this summer.
There's certainly value in a student building this sort of map, but there's perhaps more in using it as a marketing tool for students and alumni! I wonder if those who participate thought through the fact that there's a whole lot of personal information being shared!

What do Borders Look Like?

@TeachitGeog and @AAGGeomentors shared a link that pointed me to this article on Bored Panda. It offers images and discussions of more than 22 different international borders. Topics include both human and physical geography.

AAG President: Reach out to Advanced Placement Human Geography High School Students

In her first column as Association of American Geographers president Sarah Bednarz considers the AP Human Geography course and exam and its potential as a tool to grow geography and new geographers. Her call to action:
I urge us to reach out to APHG teachers and their classes. About a fifth of students who take APHG indicate they are interested in taking another geography course in college. Some are your future geography majors. Adopt them; nurture them; use them as your pipeline to your majors; engage your senior majors to mentor AP students. You will find that you learn a lot about innovative teaching from interacting with APHG teachers and they can hone their geographic perspective by talking with you.
Perhaps the GeoMentors can help? The article includes a map of the number of APHG exams (taken?) by state in 2014.

GIS Skills, Assessments and Credentials

Diana Sinton writing in Directions Magazine provides an update on all the new and updated documentation of skills, tools of assessment and delivery of credentials in geospatial. I for one was not aware of Esri's new "entry level" certification.
The Desktop Entry Certification will particularly appeal to recent college graduates entering the job market and interested in documenting the technical proficiency they acquired during their education.
But, my favorite part, after the list of efforts, is Sinton's closing:
Wanted: individuals who are certified, credentialed and degreed, across all possible levels of competency, to have demonstrable skills and abilities across diverse and constantly developing bodies of knowledge in the practice and domain of the geospatial sciences and technologies. Proficiency in communication, organization, leadership and teamwork assumed. Very strong preference will be given to anyone who can accurately and comprehensively describe this important area of professional development. Everyone else, please join the large queue forming in the back of the room for those with ongoing questions about where this all will lead.
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