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Thursday, June 4, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: Syllabi, Senate, Spotlight, Sacramento

GeoTech Center Offers GIS Syllabus Repository

The GeoTech Center has been requesting syllabi from college GIS instructors for some months. This week I found the repository populated for the first time.

Nineteen institutions contributed one or more documents. Some of the PDFs have copyright, some are under a Creative Commons license and many have no license at all. Those who want to re-use the content should follow best practices. (I offer some thoughts here.)

I found several documents that read "Syllabus Not Available at this time. This course is in development and a syllabus will be available in Spring 2016." I guess they are "place holders."

The documents are arranged by institution. I'd love to see a search by title, content, date, instructor, topic, or pre-requisite. If you are interested in older syllabi, I found some on the TeachGIS site.


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NCGE Calls for Support to Increase Competitive Grant Funding for Geography

The section of the April bill passed by a Senate committee regarding education funding states:
Section 2304: 5% of the funds will be allocated to competitive grants in History, Civics and Geography, with a focus on high poverty students/schools
NCGE reports "the organizations," which I think are GENIP: AAG, NCGE, AGS and NGS, are asking for a change. They request that 15% (rather than 5%) of funding in be allocated for section 2304. NCGE asks:
If you have a moment, please reach out directly to the [Senate] education staff members included here. It’s important to tell your story and relay your experiences as a geography educator. We also suggest referencing the AAG Resolution in Support of K-12 Geography Education as an important piece of evidence for broad cross-sector and bipartisan support for geography in the United States.
I hope those who left comments to the post on the NCGE site will also contact the appropriate staffers.

Mapping is for the Birds

A new book, “Birds Without Borders: Investigating Populations, Habitats and Conservation of Birds in the U.S. and Abroad” comes from the Cornell Ornithology Lab and taps GIS. From the press release:
Using bird observation data from a number of sources, the text guides teachers and students through specific investigations into questions concerning the habitat needs of nesting birds, modeling bird population trends, tracking birds with citizen science, and planning effective conservation strategies.
The book points to the use of (I have to believe) ArcGIS Online but also offers lower tech solutions.

UNIGIS is Institution of the Year

Geospatial World Magazine recognized UNIGIS as the "Geospatial Institution of the Year" for  its role in "Educating GIS Professionals Worldwide." The award was presented at the Geospatial World Forum held in Lisbon last week. At some point all the awardees will be listed here.

OSGeo Code of Conduct

OSGeo has adopted a general code of conduct, available at http://www.osgeo.org/code_of_conduct. It's "easy to apply to all OSGeo projects, and related events such as OSGeo," per the press release and "applies to in-person events (such as conferences and related social events), IRC, public and private mailing lists, the issue tracker, the wiki, blogs, Twitter, and any other forums which the community uses for communication and interactions." In the past it seems, each event, project, etc. chose its own code.

AAG GeoMentor Spotlight

The AAG has launched a program to profile GeoMentors. The first installment features Paisly Di Bianca from the U.S. EPA, who best I can tell is a "would be" GeoMentor. I look forward to when there are enough experienced GeoMentors who can share details on successes and provide advice.

The last time GeoMentors reared its head via National Geographic lots of people "signed up" at Esri UC, but I don't recall many individuals finding "matches" with schools. This post appeared from Charlie Fitzpatrick, and highlights that participants need to be pro-active in finding teachers/classes/schools/afterschool programs to do their good work!
We just need the current GIS user community to follow a simple school rule: “Each one teach one.” Before another year goes by, we need those who know to make a personal commitment: share with an educator whose school is without these great resources. 
Esri UC for Students

Claremont University details how its students can get a free day at the Esri User Conference. I'm not sure if all schools have this opportunity.

The University of Washington has some seats from its license and notes "a number of ESRI-subsidized registrations for students that cover more than just the registration fee (for seniors or graduate students)." I think that refers to the Student Assistantship Program. UW's site also states students can attend all week for $495 registration.

This website says Young Professionals (no idea of the definition) can register for $175.

ActionAid Story Map of Lesotho

ActionAid is a UK non-profit fighting poverty, but also focused on education. It offers:
Lesson plans, assemblies, case studies, videos and more: our wide-ranging resources help you introduce global issues at all key stages.
This week the organization launched its first story map:
Learn about Lesotho
Let 12 year old Ramotili tell you about his country and show you how he grows corn. An interactive map accompanies a wealth of images and activities covering the KS2 Geography and Science curricula.
Best I can tell it uses a story map template, but the URL suggests it's a "slide show." It certainly looks like a slide show. A tweet from ActionAid says the resource is based on Esri AU tech. The story map includes interactive challenges like having the student infer the meaning of "land locked," finding locations by zooming in and out and comparing their home country to Lesotho. I like this effort, and its focus on engagement and storytelling, very much. I'd say it's a great example of meeting the "Five Principles of Effective Storytelling" and it adds one more: challenges to engage the reader.

Yik Yak for Location-based News on Campus

Yik Yak, the anonymous location-based social media posting tool. has not been met with a warm welcome on many campuses. But the Innovation News Center (INC) at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications sees a potential benefit: provided curated, location-based news and alerts.
The feed, called “Swamp Juice,” is available as a “Peek” to any Yik Yak user near the University of Florida campus and is delivering local news, alerts and opportunities to the campus community.
MediaShift offers and interview with the Center's director on the now two month old partnership.

Sacramento State Students Look at Crime Under the Lights

Sacramento State geography students gathered data as part of their studies to help the explore ways to reduce crime in lower-income neighborhoods. One senior project revealed that "when more lights were installed in dangerous areas, crime was cut in half." I think these are the kinds of stories that will get people jazzed about geography and GIS credentials.

PSU Receives K-12 Grant for Geography Education in Oregon
Portland State University's Center for Geography Education in Oregon (C-GEO) has received a $200,000 grant from the John and Betty Gray Geography Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation to improve geography education in Oregon's K-12 schools.

The funds will be used for teacher professional development, instructional materials, community outreach and advocacy for geographic education.