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

Helena Mitasova hmitaso at unity.ncsu.edu
Fri Feb 27 19:48:41 PST 2009


I very much agree with what you have to say, especially about
introducing students to CLI. I teach a semester long course
on geospatial modeling and analysis with assignments in GRASS
and ArcGIS and eventually the students find out that they can run
the assignments and project in minutes from a text file - that is a  
big win
especially for the project when I ask them to recompute everything
because of some small mistake at the beginning.

Regarding the need for running the tutorials and courses with local data
I tried to start some initiative for building standardized data sets
for different locations that can be used with the same tutorial by  
a data set with generic names of map layers and a simple getting  
started tutorial -
see my post to OSGeo Edu below. Some people responded, but we don't
have any additional data sets yet. Maybe you can add few additional
layers to your data set, give them the same names as in the data set  
and try it out with the simple tutorial (I can add the imagery if  
and provide some feedback whether this would be feasible.
If the concept works, we can put the data sets on the osgeo web site  
(they are small)
and it would make preparation of tutorials and courses
for different locations worldwide much more efficient,

thanks a for sharing your experiences,


Following some discussions with Venka and the suggestion on Wiki
about a need for local data sets for tutorials I have created the  
as a basis for an experiment:

1. scaled down, basics-only version of the NC data set with generic  
of map layers
2. getting started bare bone CLI  GRASS minitutorial for this data set.

It is here
or here

Now the experiment :
The objective is
- provide data sets for different regions with the same map layer names
so that the same tutorials can be run with data in Japan, Trento
or other location in US

I see the main trouble with the attribute names - but those can be  
if there aren't too many, otherwise it may be worth to try the concept.

I will be happy to modify the data set  and of course the tutorial(s)  
can be
much nicer - GRASS wxpython GUI-based tutorial would be a nice test case
if we could provide it with data sets from all over the world.

So if you think it is worth it, please create small data sets for  
other locations
with the same names of map layers
that would run with the minitutorial to test the idea. I can then  
further modify
the data set to fit with the other ones so that we can create a  
working standard
that can be easily expanded to many areas in the world,


On Feb 27, 2009, at 10:16 PM, maning sambale wrote:

> Hi,
> 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.
> -- 
> cheers,
> maning
> ------------------------------------------------------
> "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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