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Thursday, July 28, 2016

GIS Education Weekly: AP GIS&T Proposal and a Spatial Center at the University of Chicago

AAG Proposes AP GIS&T Course

The AAG has issued a proposal for a new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (AP GIS&T). It's soliciting "attestations" from U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities. For the course to become reality, 250 high schools need to sign on confirming interest and capacity to teach it and 100 colleges and universities have to be willing to offer some sort of credit to students who score high enough on the exam. The commitments are due by October 1. There's a list of endorsing organizations (as of July 22) in this PDF.

Also in my feed this week, from The AtlanticIt turns out that students who take AP classes don’t actually get better college grades.

Research News

The National Center for Research in Geography Education (NCRGE), a research coordination network funded by the NSF, announced the first recipients of its Transformative Research grant program. The three groups will be represented at the NCGE conference in Tampa on Saturday, July 30 in a session from 11:00 am – 12:15 pm. They'll also be at a symposium planned for the 2017 AAG Annual Meeting in Boston on Saturday, April 8, 2017. The topics of the grants are assessment, learning progressions and problem based learning. The AAG symposium will feature guest speakers, paper and panel sessions, and grant-writing workshops for geography education research.

"The Spatial Archaeometry Research Collaborations Program, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative at the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas, will collaborate on four new archaeological research projects in the winter of 2016 and 2017. Known by its acronym SPARC, the program helps archaeological researchers use geospatial methods and technologies in their work." Projects are lined up with UC Santa Cruz, the University of Pennsylvania,  Brown University and UCLA.

Computer Science and Programming Courses in Geography Departments in the United States was published (behind a pay wall) in the Professional Geographer. The abstract:
Geographic information systems (GIS) are fundamental information technologies. The capabilities and applications of GIS continue to rapidly expand, requiring practitioners to have new skills and competencies, especially in computer science. There is little research, however, about how best to prepare the next generation of GIScientists with adequate computer science skills. This article explores how U.S. geography departments are introducing and developing computer science and programming skills in their geography and GIS degree programs. We review the degree requirements in fifty-five geography departments and discover that forty-four of them offer some kind of GIS programming course. Of the 210 separate degree options identified, however, only 22 require one of these courses for a degree. There is little consistency or emphasis on computer science and programming skills in geography or GIS degrees, despite the immense importance of these components in geography and GIS careers. We propose future research along distinct investigative tracks to build a research-based understanding of the educational interactions among GIS, computer science, programming, and geography.
NIU Pokemon GO Seminar

As part of its external program offerings, the Northern Illinois University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will host a daylong “Mapping, Exploration, and Pokemon Go” event Aug. 13 covering  geography and GIS, and the game including a post-graduate student presentation on the subject. The event is open to the public and is for all ages, but children have to be accompanied by an adult.

Programs, Courses and Centers

The University of Chicago’s Center for Spatial Data Science (CSDS) also known as Spatial@UChicago is the school’s new center for spatial research in the social sciences. It’s a joint initiative of the Division of Social Sciences and the Computation Institute. Luc Anselin, who joined the University of Chicago faculty on July 1, will lead the effort, the successor to the GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation at Arizona State University from where he and much the team hail. As a UChicago geography alum, and a member of the last undergraduate geography graduating class before the department was demoted to a “committee,” this is heartening news. Via @m0gould.

Nick Santos from UC Davis reports his GIS Imagery, Automation, and Applications, the fourth course in the Coursera GIS specialization went live this past Monday. You can enroll via a paid option or participate for free with the audit option (your items will not be graded, but you can access all the materials, videos, and assignments).

Peggy Minnis from Pace University will be offering her Desktop GIS MOOC, or what she likes to call a SOOC (S = small), this fall. It begins August 29th and ends before Thanksgiving. Here’s the syllabus and registration information for what I believe is still the only OOC that teaches GIS using ArcGIS for Desktop.

Oakton Community College (Illinois) is offering a two online geographic information systems (GIS) courses. GIS Technology I (GIS 190 - 0C1) is an online course with an optional Saturday lab; it uses "ESRI ArcGIS® software [sic] to explore geospatial modeling techniques for analyzing spatial data, patterns, and databases to build relevant maps in various disciplines." There's also a GIS Technology II. Each course is $50.


Austin Community College received an Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award for education & student job placement. Via @FlightlineGeo


The National Science Foundation has awarded nearly $900,000 to Old Dominion University (Virginia) to develop and implement courses on unmanned aircraft systems.

The University of Mary Washington announced a Military Scholarship that will provide qualified active duty servicemembers, their spouses, or honorably discharged veterans the opportunity to receive a 25% military tuition scholarship. It's for graduate degree programs including the Master of Science in Geospatial Analysis.


99 Percent Invisible, one of my favorite podcasts from Radiotopia, explores a now abandoned real world model of the Missississippi River basin from the Army Corp of Engineers. I for one, never miss this podcast; it has interesting topics related to design and tells great stories.

NGA has two new videos about the work its staffers do: one is a photogrammetrist and one is a human resources specialist.

There's a Kickstarter for a "pay to play" Slack, MapClub, for cartographers, mappers and GIS professionals. For $99 you can hang out with others with that amount of money to spend, and "hosts" Peter Batty, Steve Coast and James Fee.

People (Penn State Edition)

In September 2016,  Sterling Quinn, who finished his Ph.D. in Geography at Penn State will start a tenure-track assistant professor at Central Washington University. Sterling is well known from his years at Esri and Penn State and his work in open source mapping.

There's a nice feature on Ann Taylor, director of the Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ (EMS) John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. Of note: a book she's been involved with that offers the first comprehensive set of strategies that university administrators and faculty can use to improve the quality of online teaching and student success. It's titled Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices.


There's a new Education Licensing Program group on GeoNet. You'll find a recording of the recent webinar on the modernization of the university licenses there and a discussion of using ArcGIS Pro for teaching.

Norcal Environmental Student Network, a program which serves high school students in Central and Northern California, shot and edited a number of videos interviewing educators students at the Esri Education GIS Conference.