ABS Consulting Group, Inc.: Home | Blog | Resume | Speaking | Publications

Thursday, November 12, 2015

GIS Education Weekly: TED Prize, Geographer to be Minister of Science, NEARC Educators Day

Satellite Using Archaeologist Sarah Parcak Wins $1M TED Prize

Sarah Parcak (Image via UAB News)
What'll the University of Alabama at Birmingham associate professor of Anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Global Observation do with it?
Our 2016 TED Prize winner, Sarah Parcak will reveal a big idea to take her work to the next level on February 16, 2016 at the annual TED Conference. In a session that will be broadcast for free to the world, she'll reveal a wish to allow curious minds everywhere to play a part in preserving our global heritage. It's a wish about the wonders of archaeological discovery and our connection to the past.
I note this because it sounds like a crowdsourcing opportunity that might be interesting for students of all ages. You might have heard of Parcak before because she was a National Geographic Explorer.

Matt Rosenburg Retires from About.com Geography Site; MapLab Team Leaves Wired

Matt T. Rosenberg ‏(@mrgeog) is no longer operating the geography site at About.com. He'd been there for 18 years. Per a Facebook post, he plans to pursue other interests. I'm not clear who will take over the position but can confirm he did a great job and will be missed.

In other leaving news, the MapLab team from Wired is moving on per a tweet. Via: Anthony Robinson (@A_C_Robinson)

A Geography Resource from Cheapo Air?

The link from Cheapo Air was shared by the Girl Scouts (@girlscouts). Then it was retweeted by CanGeo Education (@CanGeoEdu) and AAG GeoMentors (@aaggeomentors).

The resources seem ok, and the links I tried are all live. I wonder who put the list together? I wonder why the list is on a cheap travel site? I wonder when it was published? Is this authoritative content? Would you retweet it?


A loyal reader commented a few weeks back: "This is simply the best source for geospatial education news on the planet. " Don't miss an issue, subscribe to receive this newsletter via e-mail every Thursday.

Updates on Previous Stories


I noted UNIGIS' new partnership with Trimble. I contacted the company to learn if UNIGIS was the first to take advantage of its educational offerings. After a few reminder e-mails, I received this statement.
UNIGIS is not the first educational institution that we have supported. Trimble has supported many organizations worldwide, which are primarily universities and non-profits with educational or environmental programs that are directly related to areas of our business such as survey, geospatial, mapping, agriculture, disaster response and others. Trimble provides support with grants, scholarships and products. Trimble does not have a formal program in place. Typically requests for support come to Trimble direct from the organizations.
Arizona State

I noted Arizona State touting its distinguishing features of its MS-GIST program, including low prices and high job placement rates. My initial e-mail to the contact in the press release/e-mail went unanswered. So too, disappointingly, did a second one also copied to the GIST Director. I have one more attempt in the works!

2015 Undergraduate Geospatial Technology Skills Competition Winners

I noted that winners and the lack of details on their work. There's still no information on the GeoTech Center or competition websites, but a Twitter interaction with the GeoTech Center suggests links to videos are coming. Other questions to the Twitter account about the number of competitors and the software they used have gone unanswered.

Evaluating Maps in a Massive Open Online Course

The article is forthcoming from Cartographic Perspectives. It's by Anthony Robinson and Jonathan Nelson both from The Pennsylvania State University.

Medical Geographer to Serve as Minister of Science in Canada

Last week Canada's newly minted prime minister Justin Trudeau created the post of Minister of Science. He appointed MP Kirsty Duncan, a medical geographer at the University of Toronto, to the position. Duncan contributed to the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and wrote a book about her expedition to determine the cause of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.

UVIC Masters Student Profile

The school paper profiles Michael Branion-Calles a soon to be master’s degree holder from the University of Victoria. He started out in English and will finish his education with a health sciences PhD from Simon Fraser.

Penn State/NGA CRADA
On October 2, 2015, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) renewed two five-year partnerships with Penn State, one with the Department of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and another with the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL). The partnerships, or cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs), focus on improving both education for geospatial analysts and an imaging tool used by geospatial analysts known as urban terrain zones (UTZs). 
Blue Grass Musician Leaves Donation for GIS in Maine School

The Peninsula School, an elementary school in Gouldsboro, ME got the ok to receive a $100,000 gift from a local bluegrass and folk musician, Jeremy Strater, who died in February. The money is to be used “for programs providing education in art, music (steel pan drums), science lab, teaching GIS mapping and environmental studies.” How cool is that?

New GeoGoodies in Free CartoDB Accounts

Twitter dataI suspect many educators and students use "regular" free accounts, though the company offers free and paid educational plans. Latest additions to free accounts:
Integrate Twitter Data
Access up to 10K Tweets, and have it instantly available for dynamic mapping.

Maximize Data Storage
You need data to power your analysis. That's why we've given you 250MB of storage.

Geocode your data
CartoDB can help you turn your named places into best guess latitude-longitude coordinates.
NEARC Educators Day

For the last seven or eight years, the Northeast Arc User Group fall meeting has been preceded by a day just for educators. I joined about 75 others this past Sunday in Burlington Vermont to share challenges and best practices (agenda, PDF). I did notice that not one of the hands-on workshops were taught by Esri staff, which I think indicates how savvy our attendees are! I also noticed how few K-12/ConnectED educators attended. I know it's hard for busy teachers to use their free time for professional development, but I maintain they'd learn quite a lot from this friendly mix of K-16 teachers and learners (we had two middle schoolers helping with a hands-on session). Most presentations are now online (by topic, across the top of the page in yellow under the search tool).

A few highlights for me:

Lyn Malone (WORLD VIEWS Spatial Technologies for Education and the event organizer, who always does a fabulous job with her committee):

In her welcome comments Malone noted how fast technology is changing and how we as educators need to keep up. In doing so she showed a slide of an early American classroom with rows of desks and a blackboard. I fear that too many technology classes look (and act) just the same way. The only change: The rows of desks now have computers on them and the blackboard is now a projection system.

Rebecca Boger (Brooklyn College, CUNY):

We are all facing the same challenges of teaching and gaining GIS support within our institutions. Among those she listed (and I'll be sure to post a link to her more detailed slide once it's posted):
  • textbook vs. not
  • ArcGIS desktop vs. AGOL
  • hybrid vs face to face
John Van Hoesen (Green Mountain College)

John shared that in the last year he's had an epiphany. Student success in their service projects is enhanced if they can become "content matter experts" in a course taken before his intro GIS course. Service projects are key to his intro GIS course, as I noted in a 2010 Directions Magazine write-up on that year's edition of this event. 

He admitted it takes some coordination with instructors and students, which perhaps more possible in his small liberal arts school than in larger schools, but the outcomes he shared were impressive. He's had students take work done in botany, land planning and captive wildlife courses and turn it into valuable service learning projects.

Developing Student and Institutional Geospatial Literacy in Higher Education (Keith A. Ratner, Salem State, moderator)

The attendees shared as much on the topic as the panelists, which to mind in the sign of a successful panel! One topic raised was the best use of "class time" in a GIS course. I noted my fantasy of a flipped GIS course and learned from a 2015 Middlebury grad, Scott Gilman, that his GIS course was taught just that way. He gave it a big thumbs up. Basically, students learned what a buffer was and how it could be used as "homework" (not a lecture in class) and used class time to do actual work and tap the other students and instructor for help. 

Gilman now serves as Smith College Spatial Analysis Fellow. There are no GIS courses in the catalog at Smith so the vision is more "teaching with GIS" than "teaching GIS." Among other things the Fellow is a "peer" instructor and supports faculty in integrating GIS into their courses. The position, says his "boss" Caris is the magic bullet for GIS at his school. While the Spatial Analysis Fellow does much of the GIS work, Caris can do more of the GIS outreach and "marketing." 

Esri News

Story Map: Access to STEM Courses 

Some counties that do not offer calculus. Darker
colors indicate higher total high school enrollment.
Charlie Fitzpatrick (@) pointed to a story map of Access to STEM Courses. It's on the Esri Federal ArcGIS site, but I have no idea who made it or why (Grrr!). I pinged Charlie who responded:
Esri made this in prep for today's White House Summit on Next Gen High Schools. [link mine]
Alas, there's no data about A.P. Human Geography courses, which might be of particular interest. That data, should anyone want to add it, is here. I featured that link last month. 

Wright Honored
The Geological Society of America (GSA) conferred the 2015 Bromery Award for Minorities on Esri chief scientist Dawn J. Wright. The award recognizes Dr. Wright's lifetime accomplishments that have advanced geologic and geographic science as well as influenced the professional careers of her students. GSA members presented the award to Wright during the annual GSA meeting November 1, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Next Update of ArcGIS Online: 

An Esri staffer posts on Esri HigherEd-L:
We are told that the next release of ArcGIS Online will happen on November 17 ...US Pacific time.
I'm not sure if that's authoritative or not!

Collector Seminar at Esri Boston

The Lunch and Learn event sponsored by NEGIS is coming up in December. The fact that the remainder of the low fee, after covering lunch, will go to GIS student scholarships is great!