2012 Education Track, Designing and Developing a New Online Graduate Geospatial Program, Stephen A. McElroy


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Designing and developing a new online graduate geospatial program presents a unique opportunity to shape an innovative curriculum. Given that most Master’s degree programs are comprised of 12 classes or 36 credits, building a graduate level geospatial program requires significant thought and compromise. This is particularly true in geospatial education in which the curriculum must mirror the cross-disciplinary nature of the geospatial profession. This paper describes the design and development of a new online geospatial graduate program at American Sentinel University. Our Master of Geospatial Information Systems (MGIS) was designed for working professionals who have domain expertise in fields other than GIS. The MGIS will provide these individuals with the geospatial skills and knowledge necessary to incorporate geospatial concepts and practice into their professional lives. Students that end their studies upon completion of the initial 5 classes (15 credits) will be awarded a GIS Graduate Certificate. Overall, our program consists of courses that are designed to blend core geospatial fundamentals with dynamic geospatial technologies and GIS applications. The program courses will be discussed in the context of advice from industry experts, advisory boards, geospatial competency models and accrediting standards. Finally, strategies for assessing and maintaining program quality and relevancy will be outlined.

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2012 Education Track, Designing and Developing a New Online Graduate Geospatial Program, Stephen A. McElroy

  1. 1. Designing and Developing a New Online Graduate Geospatial Program Stephen A. McElroy, Ph.D., GISP GIS in the Rockies September 20, 2012
  2. 2. Announcement American Sentinel University is pleased to announce two new degree programs: ● Geospatial Information Systems Graduate Certificate (GISGC) ● Master of Geospatial Information Systems (MGIS) On September 19, 2012, our educational accrediting agency – Distance Education and Training Council – formally approved these degree programs. We will begin offering GIS graduate courses in November 2012!!2
  3. 3. Who are we?  Private, for profit, online, accredited university located in Aurora, CO.  Founded in 2006 from the merger of three schools that were started in the late 1980s.  Currently offer associate, bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in business, information technology, business intelligence, GIS, health care administration and nursing.  Over 2,500 adult learners from around the world.  Offered our first undergraduate GIS degree program in 2007.3
  4. 4. Currently Offer Two Online GIS Degrees • Associate of Science Geographic Information Systems (ASGIS) • Bachelor of Science Geographic Information System (BSGIS) November 2012: • Geospatial Information Systems Graduate Certificate (GISGC) • Master of Geospatial Information Systems (MGIS)4
  5. 5. Mapping the Path to a MGIS Degree 1. Doing our homework 2. Getting advice 3. Debating the possibilities 4. Establishing the path 5. Finding the people 6. Measuring the outcomes 7. Building the courses 8. Following the rules 9. Considering opinions 10. Dealing with options From - http://media.photobucket.com/image/treasure%20map 11. Marketing the program 12. Opening the doors5
  6. 6. Establishing the Path The American Sentinel Master of Geospatial Information Systems (MGIS) is designed for: • Working professionals who have domain expertise in fields other than GIS. • The MGIS will provide these individuals with the geospatial skills and knowledge necessary to incorporate geospatial concepts and practice into their professional lives. • Many students entering this program will come from work environments that have historically not assimilated or effectively used geospatial strategies, but where there is a growing recognition of the value of this approach.6
  7. 7. Some Thoughts to Support the Path • The 2011 ESRI User Conference theme: “Taking GIS from the Professional to the Personal” supports the need to provide geospatially focused educational opportunities that meet the needs of non-GIS professionals. • This is further reflected in an article published by Al Butler, the president-elect of URISA about the need to revisit GIS job titles and descriptions in order to better capture the changing nature and pervasiveness of the geospatial field. Al Butler, “A New Approach to Updating URISA Publications” in the GIS Professional, A publication of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, Issue 246 Nov/Dec., 2011, pp. 6-9.7
  8. 8. Describing the Path The Master of Geospatial Information Systems (MGIS) is a 36-credit hour program designed to provide the working professional with the skills and knowledge necessary to incorporate and effectively use geospatial strategies in the workplace. Geospatial strategies are those that integrate visual, spatial, temporal, social and contextual information in a manner that allows individuals and organizations to more effectively understand and solve complex problems.8
  9. 9. MGIS Program Outcomes MGIS graduates will be able to: 1. Develop an understanding of geospatial principles and practices. 2. Develop a working knowledge of ArcGIS and other GIS related tools used in developing and implementing geospatial strategies. 3. Collect, store, access and use geospatial data across multiple disciplines. 4. Develop an enterprise level geospatial strategy. 5. Understand the ethical and legal issues associated with the use of geospatial data. 6. Understand similarities and differences in geospatial strategies among specific industries. 7. Design, develop and complete a GIS project. 8. Present geospatial information in a clear and professional manner. 9. Complete an e-Portfolio as evidence of academic achievement.9
  10. 10. Measurements Along the Path… How do you know if youve arrived? For some of the answers we turned to the Lumina Foundation and the Geospatial Technology Competency Model10
  11. 11. Mapping Throughout the Program American Sentinel University’s mission is to provide Mission Statement high-quality, innovative degree and certificate programs that enable students to enhance their professional and civic lives. Program Learning Outcomes Course Learning Objectives Module Learning Objectives11
  12. 12. Measuring Educational Outcomes 1. Applied Learning 2. Intellectual Skills 3. Specialized Knowledge 4. Broad, Integrative Knowledge 5. Civic Learning http://www.luminafoundation.org12
  13. 13. GIS Course/ Program Map for Lumina Outcomes Specific Outcome Evidence: Student e-Portfolio Applied Course exercises and projects requiring the Working skill with ArcGIS software, data development of skills in using ArcGIS software and learning acquisition and manipulation. geospatial data. Broad, Fundamental understanding of geospatial Research papers on data acquisition, data mining, integrative data, information systems and software open GIS systems, and alternative commercial GIS alternatives. software. knowledge Intellectual Knowledge of how to address geospatial Research papers and project assignments in a wide problems and to design geospatial skills variety of fields with geospatial challenges. investigations. Specialized Skills with statistical integrity, Coursework, comprehensive project assignments or cartographic representation, data knowledge capstones on topics of significant scope. visualization and map interpretation. Applying GIS skills and knowledge to Research papers, projects, capstones on public Civic learning address persistent challenges faced by policy issues. people and their communities.Evidence: portfolio assessments, geospatial learning lab badges, prior learning, courseactivities, external activities and student responses to each of the mapped areas.13
  14. 14. GIS Course and Degree Program Map forGeospatial Technology Competency Model14
  15. 15. Course Level Mapping15
  16. 16. Following the Rules16
  17. 17. MGIS Program Details Core Courses (5 courses – 15 credits) • Geospatial Principles and Practice Available to all students as a resource. Includes learning support,American Sentinel Online Geospatial Learning Lab • Geospatial Practicum Using ArcGIS Graduate GIS activities and other resources to promote geospatial • Geospatial Data Certificate • Developing an Enterprise Level Geospatial Strategy principles and practice across the curriculum. • GIS Accuracy, Ethics & the Law Course Track Project Track 6 Elective courses – 18 credits 4 Elective courses – 12 credits + 1 Project course – 3 credits + 3 Project courses – 9 credits Elective Courses (7 courses – 21 credits) • Web-based Applications and Resources for Geospatial Analysis • Emerging Topics, Trends and Technologies in Geospatial Analysis • GIS Applications in Health and Human Services • GIS Applications in Business MGIS • GIS Applications in Government • GIS Applications in Defense, Intelligence and Public Safety • GIS Applications in Environment and Natural Resources • Geospatial Project Overview (required) • Design and Development of a Geospatial Project • Geospatial Project and Presentation 17
  18. 18. GIS Course Delivery in Moodle18
  19. 19. COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE Access to Yammer andIncorporate external expertise other tools to help build and up-to-date information an online community through RSS feeds HELP Include direct links to various avenues of support ACCESSLink directly to tools needed to complete the courseArcGIS in the Cloud Accessing ArcGIS in the Cloud PRACTICE CONTENT ASSESSMENT Provide opportunities Create and share Frequently check to apply what they are relevant and reliable on student learning learning information19
  20. 20. Geospatial Thinking Across the Curriculum We believe that geospatial thinking is so important that we decided to not only create new graduate GIS programs and revamp our undergraduate GIS programs, but to add geospatial literacy to the list of critical cross-disciplinary themes in our university-wide programs. Business GOAL: Exemplify (where appropriate) the relevance of geospatial technology for problem solving in Nursing major disciplines. Technology and Health Care20
  21. 21. Initiative to Implement Geospatial Thinking Across the Curriculum Business Nursing and Heath Care Technology Geospatially Knowledgeable Graduates21
  22. 22. Two New Geospatial Graduate Programs Geospatial Information Systems Graduate Certificate (GISGC) Master of Geospatial Information Systems (MGIS) • Currently recruiting new students • First course begins in November 2012 • Admissions deadline is October 31, 201222
  23. 23. Questions? Contact: Stephen A. McElroy, Ph.D., GISP GIS Program Chair American Sentinel University Stephen.McElroy@americansentinel.edu23
  24. 24. www.americansentinel.edu 800.729.2427