Monday, February 2, 2015

Teaching GIS

Over the past few decades, GIS has become more usable for the average researcher, and fields have grown more accepting of GIS and spatial analysis are a curricula for educational institutions. However, because GIS is a constantly evolving field, teaching GIS at an institutional level presents the problem of teaching to work with GIS as it changes rather than a specific version. This article discusses the training curriculum created at the Wildlife Conservation Society to educate professional scientists. 

This research highlights the importance of teaching core concepts and applications, as well as GIS specific vocabulary. Even though these scientists were well versed in their specific disciplines, they needed to integrate themselves into the GIS and spatial analysis vernacular. In this instance, successfully training to learn how to write GIS operations will ensure a full understanding of the discipline. The workshop, like this GIS course, has three main goals to develop full literacy and understanding in the GIS field: focusing on creating a conceptual core of the principles, integrating basic skills into the GIS program, and applying these methods into their own disciplines. 

This article demonstrates the importance of communication on the part of the student and the instructor to ensure full competency in GIS. The graphic presented here shows the learning process for this GIS course. Question formulation moving to data analysis, and then finally student creation and presentation. This learning method, much like Bloom’s taxonomy, ultimately focuses on student creation as the highest level of success. This theory of learning and education is important to remember within higher education institutions, in which students may be discouraged due to course load. Creation and application of GIS as an interdisciplinary tool will be the sign that GIS at Southwestern is working. 


  1. GIS is becoming a more recognizable research method for many occupations and companies.. Its amazing how rapidly it is growing right now. Due to the many possibilities GIS is usable for, what can it be used for other than research? Also where do you think GIS will be in the next few years?

  2. On the note of focusing on core concepts, I think it would be beneficial if GIS classes had different parts similar to being cross-listed. There could be a focus on the computer science/ programming aspects, analysis and writing sections, and also history and map making/geography sections. These could be in the class or separate classes, or even parts of those disciplines like chapters in their text books. idk