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Thursday, March 19, 2020

GIS Edu Weekly: What the Experts say about Moving to Online Teaching

Resources for Teaching and Learning

Maps in this week's news are of three types: coronavirus maps, where to get food during coronavirus outbreak and maps related to the presidential election. There are a lot of data, cartography and other issues to discuss! This map of cases in L.A. is a good starting point. 

The Economist: Foot traffic has fallen sharply in cities with big coronavirus outbreaks - "Data from Google show that the virus has indeed prompted a sharp decline in overall foot traffic. They also suggest that shops and restaurants in places where covid-19 is now taking root should prepare for similar slowdowns." Via RE Seiber.


IEEE Spectrum: Can Astronauts Use GPS to Navigate on the Moon? - "Scientists say lunar explorers could ‘see’ enough Earth-orbiting satellites to make an expensive new system unnecessary."

GIS Lounge: GIS and Cartography Material Available for Online Teaching - Since Caitlin at GIS Lounge announced last week she'd be collecting resources, I point you to her list. Please contribute!

The Hill (blog): It's time to consider creating a remote voting system for Congress - "A nation must be adaptable and resourceful in times of crisis like a pandemic caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19). That’s why it is time for Congress to seriously consider setting up a remote voting system that is verifiable and secure." The geography of congress member voting matters!

NPR: A Spy Agency's Challenge: How To Sort A Million Photos A Day - The U.S.'s National Public Radio visits the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, aka NGA.

From Esri Education Outreach Team: TODAY: Enabling Remote Access to ArcGIS in Higher Education Webinar, March 19 2 ET; Moving Your Course to Distance Learning Webinar March 24; Learn How to Teach with GIS When School is Disrupted. March 26. There's even more support (including live office hours!) documented on the Esri Education blog.

On and Off Campus

Cody Enterprise: Educator workshop held to teach GIS - Park County was one of four locations in the state of Wyoming to host a GIS workshop for local teachers.
Magnolia Reporter: SAU takes lead to create historical database about special local elections held in Arkansas - "Southern Arkansas University and the Public Policy Center at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have launched a project to compile and analyze 20 years of historic data related to local ballot issues."

LancasterOnline: Ephrata Borough partner with Millersville University, EDC for Mapping Project - Ephrata Borough has agreed to partner with Millersville University and Economic Development Company of Lancaster County to do a mapping project of parcels within the central business district for $4100. Students will do the work with faculty oversight.

Digital Health CRC: Major geospatial mapping project to help target care to health hotspots - "The three-year, $2 million project to develop a comprehensive, real-time Health Atlas is a collaboration between Australia’s Digital Health Co-operative Research Centre (Digital Health CRC), HMS of the USA, and the University of Canberra’s Health Research Institute."

Programs and Courses

University of Redlands: U of R launches online GIS certificate program - "With classes beginning this fall, the new online certificate program builds on the University’s on-ground programs to equip working professionals with graduate-level knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS)."

Moving to Online Teaching

I stand with many experts who pretty much suggest "less is more" when it comes to teaching and learning in these times. Rebecca Barrett-Fox writes at Any Good Thing: Please do a bad job of putting your courses online. She suggests you forget synchronous meetings, forget too much tech, forget even polling students about their tech, and focus on resetting expectations. This thread from Robin DeRosa says pretty much the same thing. Oh, and Audrey Watters' newsletter, too. And, this from Esri's Geri Miller is in the same vein.

In almost any course this is a good time for reflecting on the current situation from the perspective of the discipline: geography, sociology, biology, etc. I think assigning weekly reflection essays, podcasts, videos, graphics would be both learning opportunities and healing assignments. This reflection from a former editor of mine, locked down outside San Francisco, is chilling.

With so many individuals, departments, companies, non-profit organizations offering content to educators to use during these times, I wanted to review the types of things you might want to look for details on, ideally before downloading a GB or more of content.

  • Check the content license. What can and can't you do with the materials? 
  • Check the content format. In what form are the downloads? PDF? Word? Are they editable? Are the videos in a form you can host? Or are they publicly hosted? 
  • Check the software supported and its version. If the tutorial is for QGIS 2.3 and has not been updated to the latest version (3.4) does it still work? Can/should students be expected to find their way if using a a newer software version?
  • Check the support. Is the author (individual or organization) going to be there to provide support? Will they help you support your students? If you are on your own, are you up to supporting students regarding hardware, software, and exercise questions?
  • Check the language. Are the materials written in language that's appropriate for your students (English, Spanish, K-12, college, ESL, etc.)?
  • Check the topics. Are the lessons related to your course? There may be some great environmental GIS labs, but will they work if you are teaching historical geography? 
  • Check if it's worth using. You know yourself and your students best. Are you better off using someone else's materials and trying to support them, or going a bit off course and following your gut about what and how to teach?

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