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Thursday, June 25, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: High Schoolers and Interns Solve Challenges, MOOCs, Essential Body of Knowledge

Bronx High School of Science Students find Use Cases for DigitalGlobe Imagery
Image by Ryan Jay Crisostomo CC BY-SA 3.0
This year at State of the Map [the OpenStreetMap US event], developers and users gathered at the United Nations in New York City to exchange information on the latest geospatial applications. Among the participants were 15 entrepreneurial-minded students from the Bronx High School of Science. The students were on hand to discuss their use cases detailing the application of satellite imagery, big data, and maps to solve problems challenging the commercial sector, particularly, real estate investment, infrastructure, and security.
Ninety students at the school were part of DigitalGlobe's Bright Ideas competition held at the top notch school. (I was in an NSF high school program one summer and the Bronx High School of Science students kicked my butt.) The good news:
The original ideas within these use cases are the intellectual property of these superb intellectual athletes, and their next step is to apply to for grants through the DigitalGlobe Foundation to further their ideas towards commercialization.
If the ideas come to fruition, DigitalGlobe will sell imagery. Is it possible this detailed imagery is still a solution in search of a problem?

USGIF Publishes GEOINT Essential Body of Knowledge

USGIF produced the GEOINT Essential Body of Knowledge (EBK, PDF). It conducting a cross-industry job analysis to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities critical to the GEOINT positions. The document was developed in support of the upcoming Universal GEOINT Certification I discussed last week.


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Temple Masters Program Starts this Fall
The Department of Geography and Urban Studies is excited to announce a new Professional Science Master’s in GIS and Graduate Certificate in GIS, beginning Fall 2015. 
Both residence programs include many topics/goals of other programs - using software, getting a GISP, ethics, etc.

20 Good Map Creation Tools

The article 20 Good Map Creation Tools for Students is from 2014 and some of the tools have either changed name or no longer exist. Still, it's a nice reminder there are many tools to explore!

Kuhn's 2012 Paper in the News

Joseph Kerski's Kuhn’s 10 Core Concepts of Spatial Information blog post had me a bit confused. Here's what I learned digging into it:
  • It's not Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions guy, it's Werner Kuhn of UCSB (now)  the University of Meunster, when he wrote paper in question. 
  • The paper referenced is titled Core concepts of spatial information for transdisciplinary research and was published in the International Journal of Geographical Information Science in 2012. 
  • The section titled Ten Core… is about halfway through the paper. 
  • My suggestion: Read the Ten Core section, then go back to Kerski's blog post. Things made more sense to me reading in that order.

Esri's Third MOOC: Building Geoenabled Apps and other Esri MOOC News

Esri's "Location Advantage" MOOC has ended and Esri's David DiBiase shared the
plan for a third MOOC, tentatively titled "Building Geoenabled Apps." Like "Location Advantage," this will be a free, six-week online course that makes the case that geoenablement adds more than just dots on a map. Students will gain hands-on experience building geoenabled apps on the ArcGIS platform that realize the value in open data.
I hear it will be available this fall.

Also, via a few e-mails I learned:
  • Seven students were called out for service to "The Location Advantage." It seems they will be rewarded in some way.
  • "Going Places with Spatial Analysis" (registration) opens on September 1. 
  • “The Location Advantage” (registration) will run again in November.

Design is Human

Kenneth Field of Esri (@kennethfield) , who I respect quite a bit, suggested reading Design is Human by Daniel Huffman, a cartographer. It's about design in general and maps in particular. I think it's valuable for educators and advanced students.

Integrating Free and Open Source Solutions into Geospatial Science Education

The article was published (open access) in  ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf on June 1. The abstract:
While free and open source software becomes increasingly important in geospatial research and industry, open science perspectives are generally less reflected in universities’ educational programs. We present an example of how free and open source software can be incorporated into geospatial education to promote open and reproducible science. Since 2008 graduate students at North Carolina State University have the opportunity to take a course on geospatial modeling and analysis that is taught with both proprietary and free and open source software. In this course, students perform geospatial tasks simultaneously in the proprietary package ArcGIS and the free and open source package GRASS GIS. By ensuring that students learn to distinguish between geospatial concepts and software specifics, students become more flexible and stronger spatial thinkers when choosing solutions for their independent work in the future. We also discuss ways to continually update and improve our publicly available teaching materials for reuse by teachers, self-learners and other members of the GIS community. Only when free and open source software is fully integrated into geospatial education, we will be able to encourage a culture of openness and, thus, enable greater reproducibility in research and development applications.
North Carolina State University, employer of all the authors, is a member of Geo for All, which aims to increase use of FOSS4G in education.

Who Won the USGIF GEOINT Hackathon?

The Interns.
The first-place team included four student interns and was aptly named “Team Intern.” Their solution focused on travel and revealed an “Ebola superhighway” along the coast of West Africa. They were awarded the $15,000 grand prize as well as complimentary registration to USGIF’s GEOINT 2015 Symposium...
The four team members, three gentlemen and a lady, are interns at three different organizations in D.C. and study at three different schools. About 30 individuals participated in the Hackathon.

Green River Ponders Cutting GIS Program

Green River Community College's union is fighting the president about a contract and proposed cuts. Among the possible cuts at the Washington State school  is GIS:
The auto-body repair program and geographical information services, which also may be eliminated, have low enrollment numbers and are expensive to run.
I understand how an auto body program might be expensive - takes lots of space and tools (and they just built a new building for it!). How is a GIS expensive to run? The computers are not that special anymore, the software should be covered by a university-wide license or might be open source, and GIS instructor pay is no more than any other instructor, best I can tell.

Skill and Techniques or Software?

There's been an active conversation over on the ICA/OSGeo discussing the difference between the basics of GIScience and the software that is used to do analysis. This edition of the discussion is based on the effort to develop an AP GIS&T course and concerns from some that a curriculum would focus on one software package rather than another. My understanding is that the two are quite separate questions. the GTCM and BOK and USGIF's EBK discuss skills and techniques, not software packages.

In the end, it's the institution's or instructor's implementation of such course that matters. What do student learn about analysis and techniques vs. software use? Here's a data point from one of the most lauded (and rightly so) high school GIS programs, James Madison's Geospatial Semester.  This student, who best I can tell graduated high school this spring with at 4.04 GPA, was interviewed as part of the AAG/Esri GeoMentor Program.
What mapping or analysis techniques did you learn through this experience?
During this experience I learned how to use ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS Online to analyze a variety of situations ranging from finding the best area for a ski resort based off of temperature, sun exposure, and the slope of a mountain, to tracking an urban coyote.
Physics Educator Wins ASPRS Award
The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) has recognized Dr. J.B. Sharma, professor and assistant head of the Department of Physics at the University of North Georgia (UNG), with the Leidos/Estes Memorial Teaching Award for his achievement in the promotion of remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology.
I like the fact that Dr. Sharma is interested in both remote sensing research and pedagogy.


John Van Hoesen ‏(@Taconic_Musings) pointed me to Unhangout, an open source platform from MIT for online uncoferences, but which has potential for a whole lot more. It's built on Google Hangouts.

From the About page:
Think of it as a classroom with an infinite number of breakout sessions. Each event has a landing page, which we call the lobby. When participants arrive, they can see who else is there and chat with each other. The hosts can do a video welcome and introduction that gets streamed into the lobby. Participants then break out into smaller sessions (up to 10 people per session) for in-depth conversations, peer-to-peer learning, and collaboration on projects. UnHangouts are community-based learning instead of top-down information transfer.
I see that ISTE has an event planned and wonder how it might be used in parallel with on-site events.

NSF Spatial Thinking Grant to Enhance Middle School STEM
Researchers from Harvard, Penn State's College of Education and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have won a $1.387 million [NSF] grant to develop labs designed to help middle school students understand spatial thinking in astronomy.
I went "huh" until I read this bit:
ThinkSpace labs will aim to help students understand 3D astronomical phenomena such as moon phases and eclipses while supporting more general spatial abilities.
And, I was happy to see a spatial name in this coverage from Penn State: Penn State's Lynn Liben, from the psychology department, but also aligned with geography, is an advisor on the project. H/T to @dianamaps

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