[OSGeo-Edu] UMass Amherst educational material -- a status report

Charlie Schweik cschweik at pubpol.umass.edu
Sat Mar 3 16:04:49 EST 2007

Hi All,

Apologies in advance: Long email. But I wanted to give a short status of
where we are in developing OS GIS educational material. I am currently
running a distance learning Intro to GIS course focusing on QGIS
version .8, the GRASS plugin, and some database exercises (I've attached
the outline of the course at the end of this email). 

We have 18 enrolled students (although some do not seem to be
particularly active). Most students are from Nigeria and Uganda, with a
few others from Vietnam, Thailand, and the U.S. We're running the course
on a combination of a Moodle course management platform, as well as a
separate website for impress/voice lectures recorded using Camtasia and
served using Flash, and then exercises (e.g., Searching for data on the
web; Georeferencing a scanned map; online digitizing; etc.) and then
assignments that have the students do the same thing again. All of these
are stored on a wiki. It is these exercises and assignments that I plan
to provide to OSGEO. I haven't considered offering the lectures because
I'm not sure I have all the copyright issues worked out. I suppose
another component of the material OSGEO might want to host is lectures
(powerpoints) on various topics. For instance, I have a lecture on
georeferencing concepts (e.g., spheriods, datums, graticule,
projections) that might be useful to some others. 

My plan is to provide this to OSGEO after this first run with course is
done and we've had a chance to go through them with students and work
through some of the stumbling blocks. At that point, I'd welcome them
being reviewed by the OSGEO community for possible inclusion on the
OSGEO site. This would be sometime this summer.

Finally, we're running into an interesting issue that relates to
eventual OSGEO hosting. In the section where we are trying to show
attribute database work, (Week 8: where we are using data from Spatial
Data Engines -- PostGreSql, PostGIS) we are hosting a database on a
server that students are supposed to use for the exercise. So if we did
want to eventually move these exercises to be hosted on OSGEO, we would
need to have a server hosting the PostGreSQL data. We'll learn in a few
weeks whether this will work OK for the students. But it is an
interesting hosting issue I hadn't thought of. 

Again, apologies for the long note. But I wanted to let the OSGEO edu
community know we are working away here, and decided it was better to go
through the course once before we made the material available to OSGEO. 

I'm considering offering this course again (perhaps in the Fall), and
maybe if I did, we might consider running it via OSGEO. I decided NOT to
offer this as an official UMass online course, because the cost of the
course would not allow people in developing countries to take it. So I
am offering it as a free course that is nearly equivalent to a 3-credit
university course. 

Charlie Schweik
UMass Amherst



Week 1- Preparing for the course

1.1a. Try out the class communication system (exercise)
1.1b. Install Adobe flashplayer for course lectures on your computer
1.1c. Course introduction (lecture) 
1.1d. Install a PDF Creator so that you can submit your homework
assignments by email attachment.
1.1e. Installing QGIS (exercise)

See the QGIS version .8 Userguide -- it has a section on Installation.
Available at http://qgis.org/content/view/106/79/

Week 2 Introduction to GIS and QGIS 

2.2. GIS Introduction Part 1 (lecture)
2.3. GIS Introduction Part 2 (lecture)
2.4. QGIS Overview (exercise)
Assignment 1: Introduction to QGIS

Week 3 Maps, Space, and Spatial Representation

3.1. What is a Map? (lecture)
3.2. Space: Place, Path, Landscape (lecture)
3.3. Spatial Representation: Point, Line, Polygon (lecture)
3.4. The Evolution of Geographic Analysis, Part 1, up to 1950
3.5. The Evolution of Geographic Analysis, Part 2, after 1950
Assignment 2: GIS literature review 


Week 4 - GIS Analysis overview; Georeferencing; GIS Input option 1:
Internet data gathering 

4.1. Georeferencing concepts part 1 (lecture)
4.2. Georeferencing concepts part 2 (lecture)
4.3. GIS building process and class roadmap (short lecture) 
4.4. Web GIS data resources: US and global (exercise)
Lecture slides for optional printing (pdf) for 4.1, 4.2

Week 5 - GIS Input option 1 - Internet data gathering; GIS Input option
2 - Georeferencing a scanned map

5.1 An example of regional web resources: Massachusetts, USA digital
data (exercise)
5.2. Georeferencing with QGIS (exercise)
Assignment 3: Searching, downloading and viewing GIS data in QGIS
Assignment 4: Georeferencing practice

Week 6 - GIS Input option 2 - Digitizing features off of a scanned map;
GIS Input option 3 - GPS

6.1. On-screen digitizing of features using a scanned map and adding
attribute data in QGIS (exercise)
6.2. Understanding the Global Positioning System (GPS). Review the
excellent GPS tutorial provided by the Trimble company at
Assignment 5 : On-screen digitizing practice

Week 7: GIS Input 3 - GPS

7.1. GPS field exercise (optional -- for people who have access to a
GPS) (exercise)
7.2. Mapping GPS points with QGIS and adding attribute data (exercise)
7.3. Introduction to relational databases (lecture)
Assignment 6 : Mapping GPS points with QGIS and adding attribute data


Week 8 - Relational database theory; Spatial Data Engines 
PostGIS/PostgreSQL; PGAdmin

8.1. Using data layers from Spatial Data Engines (SDE): PostgreSQL and
PostGIS (exercise)
8.2. Analyzing attribute data with SQL. (part I: SELECT statements)
8.3. Analyzing attribute data with SQL. (part 2: Joining tables)

Week 9: Querying and manipulating data in your QGIS database 

9.1. Analyzing attribute data with SQL .(part 3: aggregate functions)
9.2. Integrating spatial and non-spatial data
9.3. Installing client software to work with SDE
9.4. Installing PostgreSQL/PostGIS database.
9.5. Introduction to the generic project
Assignment 7: Practice with PGAdmin and QGIS attribute tables


Week 10 - Map making in QGIS; GIS-based analysis

10.1 Overview of GIS Analysis (lecture)
10.2 Making maps in QGIS
10.3 Analysis using the QGIS GRASS plug-in. Plug-in basics. (exercise)
10.4. Select by location queries/neighborhood analysis (exercise)
Assignment 8. GRASS Plug-in basics
Assignment 9 . Practice with select by location queries

Week 11 - GIS-based analysis

11.1. Site selection 1: Raster Analysis
11.2. Site selection 2: Vector Analysis 
Assignment 10. Raster analysis practice
Assignment 11. Vector analysis practice

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