[OSGeo-Discuss] Next 5 years for OSGeo

Helena Mitasova hmitaso at unity.ncsu.edu
Fri Oct 2 09:04:58 PDT 2009


there were many responses already but let me add mine:

  I have been fortunate to have a different experience
(maybe due the the fact that NCSU has a strong open source community
thanks to RedHat headquarters here on campus - and they are doing  
very well).

There were two core things that made the difference:

- I teach the Geospatial modeling and analysis class with both ArcGIS  
which turned out to be very useful because the students can quickly
learn what is software implementation issue and what is core/principles.
Many students take the class to learn GRASS and open source in general,
but at the same time they get the "industry standard".

- availability of easy to install winGRASS - I used to dismiss the  
huge effort that
it takes to get GRASS working on MSWindows (why bother?), but that  
our sysadmins to install it easily everywhere and students can  
install it easily
on their laptops as well where they also run ArcGIS which they need  
for other classes.
And I also have students running GRASS on Macs - here the binary  
helps a lot too,
and they see the merits of portability when compared to ArcGIS.

So where we are now?

- the course has been just approved as a permanent course (quite a  
as you know)
- it is a mandatory course for the graduate GIST certificate and  
Professional MS in GIST -
so anybody with certificate or MS in GIST from NCSU gets some  
exposure to
open source software (I try to go beyond GRASS)
- we just started to offer it through Distance education, so even  
people who are not
enrolled at NCSU as full time students can take it
- and the most important - open source software is being added to  
other GIST
courses that used to be exclusively Arc oriented

So - there is a hope!
No question that it has been a challenge to teach GRASS to people
who have 10 year experience working with ArcGIS, so I take my students
as heroes for their persistence and staying in class and learning the  
new stuff
(we use nviz a lot to make it more fun), but I see great  
opportunities at universities
when open source is offered along with the industry standard products
and merged seamlessly into existing curricula.

So this is very much in line with what Martin has written and I can  
that there is a lot of interest in diversity of approaches, tools and  
ideas -
apparently even as we are an ocean apart we are on the same wavelength,


On Oct 2, 2009, at 10:54 AM, Ian Turton wrote:

> On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 10:32 AM, Peter Batty <peter at ebatty.com> wrote:
>> I think that programs to encourage greater use of OSGeo products in
>> universities would be a great idea too - ESRI dominate in this  
>> area at the
>> moment, but this would be another way to get the word out to a  
>> broader
>> audience.
> Currently universities are locked in a vicious circle with GIS
> software in that the students demand we teach them on ESRI software
> because that's what employers want and employers use ESRI software as
> that is what the universities are teaching the students on.
> The fact that ESRI are giving the software away for free (or nearly
> free) doesn't help. I'd love to teach more (undergraduate) students
> with FOSS but first I have to find technician time to install the
> software on all the lab machines in the university (which is where
> ArcMap is provided) for just one course (and any way why can't I use
> Arc like everyone else will be the question). Of course we're supposed
> to be teaching techniques not software packages but you still spend
> most of your time sorting out the software issues.
> So *I* think that universities are a lost cause and we should focus on
> high schools - but in many states ESRI has got there before us and has
> signed deals with the state to provide arc in schools at no cost to
> the school. When I query teachers as to how the kids will do their
> homework they usually shrug and point out it's too hard for them to do
> on their own or that they can use the school library. May be
> elementary schools are the winnable battlefield?
> Ian
> -- 
> Ian Turton
> These are definitely my views and not Penn States!
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