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Thursday, March 23, 2017

GIS Education Weekly: Mercator Out and Gall-Peters In for Boston Students

Articles and Resources of Interest

Chicago Educational Attainment
(bluer = more)
Map: Educational Attainment in America Map - by Kyle Walker, TCU Center for Urban Studies. Check out Chicago! via @pennstateGIS

ArcGIS Blog: How to Make Smart Color Choices in Your Maps - Lisa Berry (Esri) tackles color. There's also a swell story map.

The Boston Globe: Is North America really bigger than Africa? This map sets things straight -Six hundred social studies classrooms throughout the Boston Public School system are swapping out Mercator projection maps for Gall-Peters projection maps. Gall-Peters are the ones that "more accurately depict the dimensions of continents and countries," per the article. Do you think it will have an impact? Via John from the Ross Road running crew

WaPo and Jigsaw (an Alphabet company): The Sideways Dictionary - The crowdsourced dictionary explains tech terms via analogies. My first reaction: challenge students to create such definitions for GIS terms.

Continuum: Mapping Prejudice in Minneapolis - Interdisciplinary project maps racially restrictive covenants in housing deeds in the early 20th century.


Esri is offering Going Places with Spatial Analysis (FAQ) and The Location Advantage (FAQ) starting April 12. These free, six week courses, cover spatial analysis and location analytics, respectively.

FutureLearn just changed its policy regarding free courses. Per Class Central: "Under the new pricing model, the exams are behind a paywall (similar to Coursera). The course content is still free to access, but it’s only available for the duration of the course and two weeks after it ends. For unlimited access to the course (caveat: as long as it exists on FutureLearn), learners needs to upgrade. That costs anywhere between £24–69." h/t Hack Education

For Students

AAG invites undergrads attending the Boston meeting to check out the Photo Scavenger Hunt to help explore the meeting! It's under "essentials" in meeting app. The first two students to collect the 20 required photos and report in get $20 to spend at the AAG booth (store).

The American Geographical Society (AGS) is accepting applications for its Summer 2017 Scholar Internship Program at its headquarters in Brooklyn Height, NY. Summer internships last 15 weeks, and students work 35 hours per week. Interns receive a scholarship up to $1000.00 upon completion.

Supporting Women in Geography is hosting an essay contest on the topic: "How has mentorship made you a better scholar and how do you practice mentorship in your day-to-day actions?" The group welcomes contributions from current undergraduate and graduate students, irrespective of academic institution or discipline. Essay submissions are limited to 1,000 words (excluding references and short abstract), but other media can be used. The deadline: March 27.

The SuperGIS Youth Award is an annual competition that aims to encourage college students solving problems with geospatial technologies. The team from Shih Hsin University which won in 2016, repeated in 2017. It's not clear what the students did to win. Via press release.

The video from VCGI webinar I noted last week, New GIS Professionals: Issues and Tips, is now available

On March 20, the student application period opened for the Google Summer of Code. OSGeo seeks motivated proactive students. OSGeo recommends students start browsing the ideas page and carefully read the recommendation for students, particularly the application instructions.


The 9th Annual GIS in Higher Education Summit is set for Thursday, March 30, 2017 and hosted by the Geospatial Centroid at Colorado State University. "The Summit brings together GIS-oriented faculty, instructors, and students from across Colorado (and beyond) to share best practices, discuss common challenges, and strengthen our network of colleagues." The lunchtime keynote speaker is Dr. Lee Schwartz, the Geographer of the United States. The event is free, but registration is requested.

The AAG Conference will be held in Boston, April 4-9. I'll be there with the Esri Education Team. Send me an e-mail to set a time if you want to talk about GIS MOOCs, GIS education or anything else!

In and Out of the Classroom

Chris McLaughlin is a fourth-year student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. He's into lawn care and emergency medicine. So, one of his projects was a GIS analysis of lawn mower-inflicted trauma cases across southwest Virginia. He found that lawn mower accidents are different in this region than across the nation, but could not determine why.

Sacramento State launched an app that allows students to track the four shuttles that serve the campus. The university partnered with DoubleMap and reports software licenses and hardware cost less than $50,000.

High school geography teacher Michael Befell, a lifelong music lover, wanted to write a song to help his students learn about Africa. He wrote a rap that's made it to the local paper in Virginia Beach.

Quote of the Week

"It has come to my attention that some proprietary GIS vendors are doing big marketing of their proprietary products as the Science! Science is not any specific GIS proprietary tools!"

- Dr. Suchith Anand, founder of Geo for All, in an e-mail to its e-mail list

Report from the Field

I typically have limited student interaction in my day job. However, this week I spent some quality time in face to face and e-mail to e-mail contact with a number of GIS graduate and life long learning students. I found myself a bit disheartened because these students could not:
  • explain how GPS worked, even with some prompting 
  • identify a second property of open source software, beyond that it was free 
  • confidently "poke around" in a GIS software interface to find a tool