Category Archives: higher education

That time of the semester again

This week we’ll broach the topic of datums, coordinate systems, and map projections in the GIS class that I teach at Cornell. It’s week 5+ of the semester, just enough into this stuff so that there’s some sustained knowledge growing and they now have enough of a framework onto which to hang the obvious-but-abstract-and-necessary-but-confusing-and-powerful topic.  I used to be more GIS-traditional about this stuff and dive in during weeks 2 or 3. Not any more. Much more and deeper learning taking place now that students are more confident and competent at managing and manipulating spatial data. T

Just in time, XKCD has come up with another inspired projections example to share with the class.

Future of R with GIS

I was a total newbie to R before spring 2014. Then it was a little trial by fire, trying to learn just enough to keep up with grad students in a class I was co-teaching. Thank goodness for the “co-” part, as my partner was an expert in the topic, and I could contribute in my own areas of expertise, which were/are not R!  But I finished the semester with a new-found respect and, frankly, awe for what is possible with R. I have much to learn, and maybe, someday, the time.

Fast forward a few months and the topic keeps cropping up.  I shared a beer in Salzburg with Lex Comber and learned about one of his forthcoming publications, an Intro to R for Spatial Analysis and Mapping. Haven’t got my own copy yet, but if it’s what it seems to be, it’ll be one of my assigned texts in the future. In one of our webinars, Trisalyn Nelson spoke about her use of R with her graduate students. And today, I silently scanned through Alex Singleton‘s recent presentation on the Changed Face of GIS, in which R figures prominently for him.  There’s something going on here that some smart people have figured out.

What’s my new job?

Since the summer, I have been working for UCGIS, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, as their Executive Director.  Translation: I manage the business-related operations of a small non-profit that’s focused on advancing and supporting the research and education ideas of the GIS-teaching faculty at its 50+ member institutions.  Today, Directions Magazine printed an interview I did with them about UCGIS and some of its upcoming activities.  And, it’s International GIS Day! Woo-hoo!

model for professional development at UVM

In the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Vermont, faculty are involved with a year-long initiative to learn more about maps and mapping. I had a chance to be part of their August 2013 workshop and share ideas about teaching and learning supported with geospatial technologies. Members of the department of geography are leading this effort, and though they’re disciplinary experts in this field, they themselves are learning from the new perspectives and novel projects being designed and developed.  A way to spread opportunities for spatial analysis and geographical inquiry.

DePauw virtually reconstructs its former campus with geospatial tools

A team at DePauw University used SketchUp to recreate what they believe their campus to have looked like historically, building-wise.  Apparently a challenge because whole buildings have come and gone with little archival imagery captured?  Seems like a good way to involve staff and students in a project that can engage alumni and highlight the fun of flying (Google Earth-wise) around.  Mental images of Harry Potter on his broomstick whizzing past Hogwarts’ buildings.

Nice work, Beth!

H/t to All Points Blog.

GIS and University Administrators

From our new website, TeachGIS.org, we published a White Paper today that focuses on how to talk to university administrators about GIS.   First, make sure they know what GIS is, and what it’s not (i.e., GPS).  After that, it all depends on your intentions.  Different messages for different expectations.  Build some connections, share some stories, offer some statistics, anticipate and mitigate the tensions.  Figure out what your favorite GIS video, book, or website is, and send it to your Provost or Dean, just to say hi.

Spatial Thinking at Marymount College

Next week I’ll be visiting Marymount College, speaking about the roles of spatial thinking and geography for reasoning and communication.   I will also have the opportunity to visit a number of classes and share ideas with students directly. I look forward to understanding what they know and want to know.  My class visits will range from courses on Aging in America, to Digital 3D Modeling, to Applied Intercultural Psychology.   What, they think spatial thinking is relevant to all of these?  They’re right!