[OSGeo-Discuss] experience using FOSS4G live-dvd in teaching FOSS GIS

maning sambale emmanuel.sambale at gmail.com
Fri Feb 27 19:16:12 PST 2009


I just want to share my experience teaching grass and qgis using the
osgeo FOSS4G 2008 livedvd.

I was invited by a non-profit organization to provide an overview of
using FOSS Geo tools.  The organization provides mapping services to
Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines through collaborative efforts
like participatory mapping, resource mapping for asserting IP rights
to resources and ancestral domain.  The participants are in-house
geo-analysts coming from Indigenous Communities as well (note that the
participants, have no formal GIS "schooling" and has no experience
using FOSS Geo thus far).

I provided several exercise using QGIS and GRASS (no offense to udig
and gvsig, I don't use them hence, I can't teach them).  I didn't used
the GRASS sample dataset, because I want local sample data for my
exercise. My datasets are just a landsat image and a dem.  The
exercises are as follows:

Part 1  Open GRASS and QGIS - load vector and raster layers, saving
project files
Part 2  Editing GRASS vectors and rasters  (v.digit, r.contour, r.shaded.relief)
Part 3  Remote sensing based-classification (v.to.rast, i.group,
i.gensigset, i.samp, r.reclass, r.report)
Part 4  Map layout and visualization (QGIS map composer, NVIZ)

The initial plan was to do everything GUI, but I had to move to grass
terminal when we did the image classification because QGIS doesn't
have the i.smap in the grass toolbox plugin.  Anyway, this provided me
the opportunity to show the advantages of using the CLI.  At the end
of the session, I showed them that by understanding CLI commands of
grass, you can actually paste every command to a text file, run a bash
script, implement all the exercise including map layout we did for 3
hours, in just several seconds!  The reaction was: "Hey, I can do more
work with GRASS while drinking my beer!"

Reminds me of xkcd: http://xkcd.com/303/ ;-)

The overall experience was good and I believe I was able to
demonstrate FOSS Geo's power over the $25,000 esri stack they
currently have (the DVDs I bought and distributed was just a little
over $1!).

Some thoughts (and requests) on improving my subsequent FOSS Geo demos:
1.  I can't get the live-dvd running laptop to display to the LCD
projector.  I had to use another windows laptop for the presentation
and GRASS/QGIS demo.  Is there way to fix that in the live-dvd? Or is
it the projector?
2.  If the live-dvd running laptop works on the lcd projector, I can't
show my presentation slides because it has no openoffice impress
(which is correct to strip down the size).  Is it possible for future
release of the live-dvd to at least add a pdf reader?  This way I can
convert my presentation slides to a pdf document and I won't be
needing another machine for my slide presentation.
3.   It is best to use local datasets, participants can "relate" to
the data better.  Although my sample data are just a landsat image and
a dem, I was able to demonstrate how to produce several map layers
with GRASS and QGIS (landcover, hillshading, contours, etc).
4.  Never underestimate the power of showing newbies the CLI.  I
usually hide the CLI when introducing FOSS Geo to noobs for fear that
they might be overwhelmed with the cryptic commands with no menus and
icons to click-on.

If others have some experience and tips in teaching FOSS Geo, please
share them here.

"Freedom is still the most radical idea of all" -N.Branden
wiki: http://esambale.wikispaces.com/
blog: http://epsg4253.wordpress.com/

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