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Maps & Geospatial: Resources for the Liberal Arts

Maps and geospatial resources for the liberal arts

Factors to consider when integrating GIS and/or mapping in the classroom

Across disciplines maps and geospatial information can provide an important means to communicate patterns, relationships, and features.  This guide provides resources and examples to consider when implementing mapping concepts into classroom activitiesExamples from K12 and higher education are included.

Factors to consider when incorporating geospatial component into curriculum

  • Learner prior experience with geospatial content, GIS technology, and map concepts: For instance, are students exposed to map content in a prior course or an earlier part of the course? How to geospatial concepts from an earlier assignment build upon one another in later assignments?
  • Instructor prior experience with geospatial content, GIS technology, and map concepts: For instance, does the instructor use geospatial information in own research or personal interests?
  • Assignment goals: For instance, what are objectives of the assignment and how does including a geospatial component enhance, connect, or help achieve the objective of the assignment?
  • Independent or Group work: For instance, are students working independently or in small groups on assignments? It may be helpful to provide learners with tips on coming to group consensus on geospatial components of the project and provide a list of the geospatial decisions that will need to be made in an assignment.
  • Timing: For instance, how much time will students have to work on assignments with a geospatial component from point of instruction to assignment completion deadline? It may be helpful to provide students with smaller milestone dates to communicate project progress in order to identify challenges or hurdles. This aspect of timing is also important in terms of identifying any technology issues or issues of an entire class.
  • Data Sources: Is additional data needed related to assignment? What geospatial data search skills are incorporated into assignments?
  • Data Analysis: Does the assignment incorporate analytical techniques and conceptual foundation of these topics?
  • Related materials: For instance, do assignments entail the use of different media formats, data formats, or sources, which learners will be working with?

Comparisons of Open Source GIS software

Questions to consider when evaluating open source GIS tools:

  • How does the interface for the open source GIS software compare to other GIS software?
  • Does the open source GIS software include the GIS operation I am interested in performing?
  • Does the documentation and supporting materials available provide relevant examples similar to the GIS tasks I am interested in performing?
  • Are others in my field using this open source GIS software with ease? Are there challenges and limitations to consider regarding the use of a chosen open source GIS software?
  • Does the open source GIS software exist in the desired language?
  • Does the open source GIS software support file formats I’m working with?
  • What output options exists in the open source GIS software to graphically represent findings and final products?