Home > GIS, Teaching > What to teach in a beginning GIS Course?

What to teach in a beginning GIS Course?

January 17, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

GIS Layers

I have just spent the last week preparing and teaching a three day course on GIS. The question has always been, what do I teach the students? The answer is relatively simple, the most they can absorb, and keep it simple. The problem is that I am teaching to a certain population of students that are being told to attend the training, who usually do not know what the training is about until they show up in the classroom. About 1/4 of those taught will be given the opportunity to actually use a GIS once they go back to their locations. The people telling them to attend the training have no idea what GIS can do besides making street maps.

Do I take the basic approach and teach them all that their bosses expect out of the program or do I give them a wide overview of GIS so they understand the capabilities of GIS? I have opted for the second option with follow up training via ESRI’s virtual campus courses. Additionally, I give the students all the material used to teach the course, PowerPoint’s, data, exercises and plenty of supplemental reading. This way I am giving the students enough training to make basic maps but educating all the students on what the GIS is capable of besides just street maps.

Difficulties I have found with taking this approach is that the preparation time for these courses is long. Some students are able to understand the concepts and move through the exercises without too much help but others flounder and quickly become overwhelmed without frequent help. The retention of all the data is low however the students usually latch onto the basics are able to create basic maps for their bosses, granted that they actually get to use the software when they get back to their locations. In end of class surveys the students all praise the course and how well it relates to their jobs but lament how it seems like there is too much information being taught too quickly.

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Categories: GIS, Teaching
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