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Thursday, August 18, 2016

GIS Education Weekly: Teaching GIS in Every School in the County; New Geo Journal, Podcast and Video Series

Degrees, Programs and Courses

The 16-month Professional Science Master’s Program in Geographic Information Science from the University of Illinois focuses on GIS and business. "'Students who come to the program benefit from high-level, cutting-edge GIS training from leading people in the field, and they also gain from the U of I’s business program, which is very highly regarded and also cutting-edge,' said Sara McLafferty, head of the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science. 'So we think we have a very exciting combination where we've got two really strong programs that are being merged.'” The first cohort started last fall, a second one starts soon, and applications are open for the 2017 cohort. It's interesting that the program name is generic and does not mention business.

Lawrence Stipek, director of the Loudoun County, Va., Office of Mapping and Geographic Information, details the county's use of GIS over the last 30 or so years in an article at GovTech. Among the tidbits of note: "Today, GIS is taught in every county high school."

Trajectory Magazine profiles NOVA IMS, USGIF’s first international school to be accredited. That announcement was made earlier this year. The first students will graduate with a certificate in 2017.

The University of Cincinnati's Geography Graduate Student Organization and Libraries will host an organizational meeting Aug 31st to discuss the formation of a cross disciplinary Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Learning Community. Excellent!


Esri Canada offers a new tutorial aimed at high school seniors and more advanced students titled Data Enrichment and Site Analysis Workflows. It uses ArcGIS Online, Maps for Office and Microsoft Office. The content is a PDF file and an Excel spreadsheet. It's under a CC-BY-NC-SA license.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) announced the launch of an open access peer-reviewed journal, GeoHealth. "Geohealth is a rapidly emerging transdisciplinary field that supports the intersection of Earth and environmental sciences with human, agricultural, and environmental health."

The University of Southern California Spatial Sciences Institute launched a podcast, USC GIST Presents in July. To date there are three, under 15 minute offerings: Geospatial Intelligence and Security, SSI and the USGS and VIZIO and the Use of GIS.

Map Men refers to "short, snappy videos produced and presented by comedian map-fans Cooper-Jones and Jay Foreman" per Geographical Magazine. The videos explore "interesting stories about maps from the UK and overseas, merging snippets of educational information with quick-fire jokes and sketches."

Changes in Education as We Know it

"Over the past year, Coursera has offered courses in two different formats: self-paced (no start or end date) and flexible session-based (regular sessions that begin and end on specific days). On August 15th, we’ll be updating all courses to use the flexible session-based format. "Why the change? Coursera says the session-based format leads to more student success.

The U.S. Department of Education is providing $17 million in grants and loans to assist 1500 low-income students in enrolling in eight “nontraditional” training programs. The announcement refers to this as an experiment. Among the private partners involved are GE and number of coding bootcamp providers.

Quote of the Week
I'd be more interested in hiring a kid who could write code to spoof GPS than in one who caught them [Pokemon] conventionally.
That's what my friend Larry, a structural engineer, stated after reading that Niantic will ban anyone who cheats from its Pokemon GO game. I asked him why such a candidate was more valuable. "Breaking the game rules by going outside the bounds shows a valuable initiative." See also: Kobayashi Maru.

Geo for All News

An opportunity to participate in Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2016 with UNESCO has lead to an interesting discussion between Geo for All and partner The MapStory Foundation. The latter builds its software on Cesium ("An open-source JavaScript library for world-class 3D globes and maps"). There is concern about how the foundation will deal with an AGI developed Cesium Pro version ("includes specialized features and AGI proprietary rendering techniques). There are further concerns from Geo for All if that would preclude it using Map Story software.
Creator of MapStory.org and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the MapStory Foundation Chris Tucker details that at present the foundation does not know how it will react to the Pro version. Patrick Cozzi, the lead on Cesium at AGI, offers some clarity on the confusion. He also suggests that Geo for All base its decision of support for projects on whether they have OSI approved licenses.

In other Geo for All news, Maria Brovelli reports on GIS capacity building at the UN. I reported on this earlier this year. The latest, as I understand it, is that on September 19th, the first students will take the self-paced QGIS Academy course. Tutors will be available for guidance. Next, students will tackle PostGIS, GeoServer, OpenLayers and GeoNode. Expect a webinar later in the fall on the effort.

Google Cardboard Outshines Geospatial Analysis

An article from William and Mary about the use of Google Cardboard to visualize religious sites includes this comment. "Google Cardboard will be the first tool that Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Mark] McLaughlin will use to offer an immersive experience in his classroom, though he’s explored other options for better visualization of sites, including geospatial analysis and 3D scanning, for years. Most options he found were either too expensive or far too cumbersome to pull off."

Money and Partnerships

The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas, via a three-year grant for $898,073 from the National Science Foundation, will lead a statewide effort to integrate industry-specific geospatial technology skills into existing degree and certificate programs at community colleges in rural areas.

Six Charlottesville, VA City Schools and teachers will receive grants from the Edgar and Eleanor Shannon Foundation for Excellence in Public Education. One involves geography. "Lisa Wallace, Burnley-Moran Elementary, $748, 'BeeBots in the Spanish Classroom.' This division-wide project will enhance the acclaimed Elementary Spanish program in Charlottesville City Schools by using small programmable robots to reinforce the mapping and geography skills taught in the Spanish classes."

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, is seeking applications through Feb. 15 from schools and universities interested in become partners in the Centers for Academic Excellence in Geospatial Sciences program. Seventeen schools were selected in last year's cohort.


Esri's new training site is live. Here's a document to help educators who use Esri’s Virtual Campus courses as part of their university teaching.