Teaching GIS to multi department faculty

Welcome to the HU Geospatial Technology blog.  I’ve started this blog as a platform to discuss the HU program as well as interesting Geospatial Technology topics that crop up from time to time and pique the interest of our faculty and students.  Over the next few weeks I will be conducting an “Introduction to GIS” class for a group of faculty members from a nearby college.  These first posts will describe this experience.

This class has faculty representatives from Biology, Sociology, Computer Science and Economics with a wide variety of research and teaching goals.  For example, our economists are interested in measuring and mapping social and economic impacts of events such as pollution and land use change, our Biologist would like to track/map invasive species, while the sociologist is broadly interested in analyzing inequalities in issues such as crime and healthcare.

We will spend our first two weeks learning GIS concepts and terminology and walking through ArcGIS software tutorials to prepare for independent projects in our third and final week.  This blog will track my personal observations with the class and hopefully generate some discussion regarding best approaches for an Intro class aimed at professional academics.

The immediate questions that come to mind for a class of this type (i.e. teaching and research oriented faculty) are:  

  • What specific tools and techniques should be covered in order to bring participants up to speed quickly without missing something critical?
  • To what depths into core concepts should the class go in order for faculty to use GIS effectively?
  • How do we constrain the student’s independent project expectations based on limited time?
  • What ways can collaborative learning be introduced to a class with such differing academic backgrounds and levels of technology competency?

In my next post I’ll present the list of GIS concepts and ArcGIS tools planned for this course.

Albert R. Sarvis (May 13, 2013)

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