[Ica-osgeo-labs] Open GIS Academics and educators please apply to AAG call before June 15th, 2015

Diana Sinton dianasinton at ucgis.org
Mon Jun 15 10:03:32 PDT 2015

These suggestions, agendas, and realities will somehow eventually blend if this AP course is ever actually launched AND successful in its intent. The desired outcomes are likely shared among GENIP, AAG, and all of these other voices discussing this (that hundreds of thousands of high school students have a positive experience learning how and why mapping, geographical thinking, and spatial analysis, through the use of modern and exciting technologies, can inform and support their knowledge, skills, and abilities to address local, global, societal issues and situations, etc.). But a clear vision for the curriculum and logistics for supporting it are going to be a super challenge, and opportunity. 


1)      The College Board’s system of Advanced Placement courses must necessarily be highly structured and externally validated so that universities will be willing to accept the academic credit that a student may try to transfer, IF the student earns a high enough grade on the exam or other type of course evaluation. Currently, there is much more agreement across higher education in the US about what a student ought to know in “Biology 101” or “Spanish 101” than “GIS&T 101.” This is the list of current  <http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/courses/descriptions/index.html> AP courses that the College Board supports. 


2)      The only Geography-related AP class is  <https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse/ap-human-geography/course-details> Human Geography. First introduced in 2001, it’s become very popular and  <http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/courses/teachers_corner/220797.html> in 2012, over 190,000 students took the test.  The class is often perceived to be an “easy” one, and it’s not uncommon for schools to allow or even encourage  <http://www.ncge.org/aphg> 9th graders to take it. I couldn’t find the stats quickly online, but I believe that many more 9th and 10th graders take it than 12th graders.  What will it mean for 9th or 10th graders to be taking GIS 101?  How would that affect credit-transfer rates? If many students take the class, and get only a 1 or 2 on the exam, will that still contribute to the overall desired outcome? 


3)      The only other current AP class that has a substantial technology component is Computer Science ( <https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-course-overviews/ap-computer-science-a-course-overview.pdf> pdf of its overview).  At some point along their curriculum design process, it was decided that Java would be the programming language of choice, so that’s what students use, and schools must be able to provide “at least 3 hrs/week of access to a computer lab for students” to be able to apply what they learn. Who knows why and how Java became the language of choice, but I imagine there were people who promoted others then too. There may be lessons learned available from the experience of those who currently support the Comp Sci AP. 


But more importantly, the first stated goal for the Comp Sci AP class is that students “design, implement, and analyze solutions to problems,” and use of Java specifically falls much lower on the list.  I imagine that’s the approach that we hope this new GIS&T course takes, that students “design, implement, and analyze solutions to problems that have a geographic or spatial component.”  Right?  


4)      Somehow, there will have to be some kind of hands-on activities that are part of a GIS 101 class. Maintaining a computer lab with machines that support Java scripting is obviously a more trivial matter than ones that can run desktop GIS programs. If you have any experience with computer labs in US high schools, you will know that the individual machine capacity is only one of many issues. Access, permissions, bandwidth, data and project storage, etc., will all become part of the complicated details about how something like this will be handled across thousands of different school districts. Why is one reason why browser-based solutions will be critical if this course has any chance of success. 


5)      In order for any particular school to offer this course, they will have to identify existing (or new) teachers within their district willing and able to lead it. Ultimately that might mean the need for many, many hundreds of teachers with the confidence and competence to do this. Geography and GIS are very under-taught and under-learned subjects by educators in the US, and the current cohorts of such teachers is not nearly adequate, to put it mildly. How teaching and learning GIS is specifically connected with traditional measures of “spatial ability” is a complicated topic, but meanwhile, one undeniable characteristic of our current population of educators is that  <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/finding-the-next-einstein/201208/three-reasons-why-schools-neglect-spatial-intelligence> they are not, as a group, known for their spatial abilities.  What are the implications of this for helping build their confidence and competence at teaching about coordinate systems, projections, methods of data overlay and intersections, least cost path routing, deriving slope and aspect from digital elevation models, etc.?  These are some of the more “spatial” things involved with many GIS 101 courses.


6)      Expecting teachers to have confidence and competence knowing and teaching across multiple GIS applications will be exponentially challenging for them and, frankly, will likely discourage some from taking on this teaching assignment.  This will be a *huge* opportunity and need for professional development for teachers. 


7)      Students take AP classes so that they can get transferrable credit. That’s variable by the test score results and the colleges & universities considering the transferring in of that credit, and whether the credit is a general one or for a specific requirement at that university.  They are  <http://www.collegefinder.org/what-colleges-accept-ap-credits/> of little use at 2-yr schools, and these days,  <http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/education/more-colleges-stop-giving-credit-ap-exams> a few selective schools don’t take these AP credits at all.  So important conversations will have to take place with universities who currently offer “GIS 101” to get a sense of what type of credit they would grant, if any. There will be much scrutiny of the course content and the exam itself by lots of departments.  Articulation issues about GIS credits between 2-yr colleges and 4-yr colleges is already challenging, and this will be so too. 


Just a few thoughts to keep in mind as the discussions continue. The authoring team will have its work cut out for them with this exciting and worthy opportunity.





p.s.  I share these perspectives based on my own knowledge: my own 3 teenage & young adult children have collectively taken almost 20 AP classes since 2008; I’ve been teaching intro GIS to non-geographers for almost 20 years; I have run GIS workshops for middle- and high-school teachers in their own computer labs before; I designed and taught in the  <http://www.redlands.edu/academics/school-of-education/10237.aspx#.VX8Bx_lViko> University of Redland’s Spatial Literacy for Educators program (currently on hiatus); and I also taught in Elmhurst College’s  <http://www.elmhurst.edu/admission/school_for_professional_studies/certificate_programs/ap_human_geography> program to provide PD to people teaching AP Human Geog.  I am a regular user of both proprietary and FOSS programs, and I trust the authoring team will be taking these kind of issues into account as it makes recommendations for the course design.  This email message contains my own thoughts and does not necessarily reflect those of my employer.




Diana S. Sinton, Ph.D.

Executive Director, UCGIS

PO Box 612

Ithaca, New York  14851

607.252.6851 (v)

 <mailto:dianasinton at ucgis.org> dianasinton at ucgis.org

 <mailto:dianasinton at gmail.com> dianasinton at gmail.com 



From: ica-osgeo-labs-bounces at lists.osgeo.org [mailto:ica-osgeo-labs-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] On Behalf Of Anthony Robinson
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2015 11:28 AM
To: ica-osgeo-labs at lists.osgeo.org
Subject: Re: [Ica-osgeo-labs] Open GIS Academics and educators please apply to AAG call before June 15th, 2015




I’m sure you’ve seen this stuff before, but for others watching this thread, a lot of ground is already covered by the existing GIS&T body of knowledge, which is currently under revision to provide new foci around web mapping, dealing with big data, etc… The pre-revision BoK is still highly useful for course development, in my opinion: http://www.aag.org/galleries/publications-files/GIST_Body_of_Knowledge.pdf 


Here’s an interesting network viz of the BoK, too: http://carto.byu.edu/bokviswiki/ 


Another source of learning objectives in GIS&T is the Geospatial Technology Competency Model, which has also been recently revised (Tiers 4 and 5 are most relevant for this discussion, I think): http://www.careeronestop.org/competencymodel/competency-models/geospatial-technology.aspx


I know Sterling Quinn struggled with this notion when developing his new course for us on Open Web Mapping. We worked hard to try and sort out objectives around learning design patterns while making use of open source tools, anticipating that while the individual tools may change over time, the fundamental need will probably still be there to understand how to use libraries to create web map tiles/vectors, do spatial computing on the server-side, and make the leap from desktop GIS into layers that will work for web mapping.







From: ica-osgeo-labs-bounces at lists.osgeo.org <mailto:ica-osgeo-labs-bounces at lists.osgeo.org>  [mailto:ica-osgeo-labs-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] On Behalf Of Charles Schweik
Sent: Saturday, June 13, 2015 2:09 AM
To: Cameron Shorter
Cc: ica-osgeo-labs at lists.osgeo.org <mailto:ica-osgeo-labs at lists.osgeo.org> 
Subject: Re: [Ica-osgeo-labs] Open GIS Academics and educators please apply to AAG call before June 15th, 2015




I am starting to develop a web-GIS class with some colleagues and it is my hope that we can separate out conceptual/theoretical from technology-explicit content. It is interesting to try and thing of what the pure learning objectives are in this area. If anyone has ideas on this let me know off-thread...


Perhaps obvious, but the separation of conceptual and tech training examples s is important for OSGeo too, for, for example, there are multiple desktop packages. 







On Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 10:38 PM, Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com <mailto:cameron.shorter at gmail.com> > wrote:

On 13/06/2015 1:14 am, Anthony Robinson wrote:

So what I mean is that the
learning objectives should be pure learning objectives. For example:

YES to “Students should be able to explain projections and choose an
appropriate one for making a thematic map.”

NO to “Students should be able to explain projections and choose an
appropriate one for making a thematic map using QGIS (or ArcGIS Online, or

+1 to this explanation Anthony.

Once learning objectives have been created, it will make it much easier to develop relevant training courses for specific products, which can reference back to the training objectives.

And if the development of base course material is set up along similar collaborative principles to Open Source development, then the relatively high effort of maintaining training material could be absorbed by the product's community (probably through a combination of developers, users and trainers).

Cameron Shorter,
Software and Data Solutions Manager
Suite 112, Jones Bay Wharf,
26 - 32 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009

P +61 2 9009 5000 <tel:%2B61%202%209009%205000> ,  W www.lisasoft.com <http://www.lisasoft.com> ,  F +61 2 9009 5099 <tel:%2B61%202%209009%205099> 

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Charlie Schweik

Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dept of Environmental Conservation and Center for Public Policy and Administration


Personal website: http://people.umass.edu/cschweik

Publications: http://works.bepress.com/charles_schweik/

Author, Internet Success: A Study of Open Source Software (MIT Press, 2012) - see http://tinyurl.com/d3e4545



Q: Why is this email five sentences or less?

A: http://five.sentenc.es

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