[OSGeo-Discuss] Training and certification

Charlie Schweik cschweik at pubpol.umass.edu
Fri Jun 10 06:31:16 PDT 2011

I'm not going to weigh in on the certification question -- I don't 
understand the companies out there doing training and the issues raised 
by Cameron and others. Apologies in advance for a long posting.

But I find myself puzzling about how this is linked to universities (our 
edu group) and the discussions about more formal relationships with 
universities. I teach in an Environmental Conservation department and 
also in a Public Policy and Administration program. I sometimes have 
undergrad and grad students interested in going beyond the traditional 
"Intro to GIS" course, and would love to be able to somehow offer a more 
advanced course that would utilize open source technologies and 
especially training on web-based GIS (currently we have none in our 
curriculum). Or "enterprise-level" desktop GIS that might be utilized in 
small local government settings (that often do not have GIS because of a 
lack of staffing) -- like small "hilltowns" in Western Massachusetts, or 
local governments in developing world contexts. Right now we offer both 
Intro to GIS courses using ArcGIS and also desktop open source, but we 
don't have the ability to teach the next level -- an enterprise GIS or 
web-based GIS.

The other thing I am seeing is a movement away from standard lecture 
format to one where the prof might use YouTube videos or other open 
access content outside of class and then use class time to be more 
hands-on. Also there is a push at our university to try and use more 
open access educational material to help reduce the costs of textbooks 
and coursepacks on students.

This leads me to my questions regarding training and this discussion.

1) How can we collectively act and utilize the expertise within OSGeo 
software groups and other affiliates to develop a set of training 
material that could be connected to university classes? Could people on 
this list with expertise develop "modules"? Could we develop, 
collectively, workbooks along with data and exercises that we 
instructors could use? If there are people out there willing to 
contribute to this idea, who are you and what kind of material would you 
be willing to contribute? For example, I would love to get some students 
learning how to use technology like OpenLayers or other web-based GIS 
technologies, but I don't have those skills so would want to offer a 
"group independent study" under my direction, where students could try 
and learn these kinds of technologies on their own and together, under 
my direction and with the support of this OSGeo network.

2) Would it be possible to develop a network of classes in affiliated 
institutions that are all teaching the same content in parallel, and 
perhaps all using one Moodle course hosted by OSGeo?  In other words, 
have face-to-face classes running in parallel on several universities 
during the same time frame (e.g., Sept-December or January-May) where 
these classes are meeting face-to-face but then we have the ability to 
tie expertise and he classes together via Moodle or maybe hold some 
webinars by technical experts that all classes in all universities 
(timezones will be an issue here)?

This would at least work for universities in locations where they have 
decent Internet connection. But the idea might be the start of the 
content for a proposal to educational funding agencies or 
foundations.... and I greatly appreciate the approach Cameron has done 
for the Free DVD in terms of having an editor who coordinates these 
things. Some proposal for funding would need to put forth that model.

I hope these ideas are helpful and not noise....

Charlie Schweik
UMass Amherst

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