[GRASS-user] ArcGIS, GRASS and employability

Mark Lake mark.lake at ucl.ac.uk
Mon Sep 18 10:41:25 EDT 2006


Here in the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, we run an MSc in "GIS and  
Spatial Analysis in Archaeology".  Approximately 30%--40% of our  
teaching uses GRASS, for various reasons including (in no particular  
order): stable handling of large datasets; particular suitability for  
certain archaeological applications such as cumulative viewshed  
analysis; ensuring that students learn principles of GIS rather than  
how to push ESRI's buttons; ability of students to use software off- 
campus, either by remote login or by installation at no cost on their  
own machines.  It is interesting that many students choose to use  
GRASS for their dissertation research.

Although GRASS is relatively little-used by commercial archaeological  
organisations (that may slowly be changing) our external examiners  
have always been supportive.  Of course, the key difference between  
our situation and yours is that we do also teach ArcGIS, to a  
considerable extent because students expect it.

I don't have 'facts and figures' that would be useful to you, but one  
thing you might like to consider is how far the commercial companies  
in your subject area actually use ArcGIS or Mapinfo with the out-of- 
the-box interfaces?  The larger archaeological organisations tend to  
have bespoke interfaces, which means that the advantage of teaching  
using those packages is not actually as great as your (rather  
ignorant) external seems to think.


Dr Mark Lake

Institute of Archaeology
University College London
31-34 Gordon Square
London.  WC1H 0PY

Tel: +44 (0)207 679 7495
Fax: +44 (0)207 383 2572

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