LearnGIS: A Novel, Top-down Approach to Learning about GIS


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For decades, GIS has been taught from a bottom-up perspective in which basic concepts, tools, and tasks are first introduced in great detail, then linked together to form higher level parts of the system. These are in turn linked, sometimes across many levels, until the complete top-level geographic information system is revealed. This approach often results in a view of GIS as muddle of tools, functions, properties, and subsystems, seemingly isolated, exceedingly task-specific, and utterly fragmented. LearnGIS replaces this piecewise approach with a top-down, integrated view of GIS as a platform, based on the science of geography, that provides open geospatial capabilities to any user and allows access by any application on any device anywhere, anytime.

In our top-down approach, we demonstrate through real-world examples how GIS solves geographic problems and builds geospatial knowledge. The examples, illustrating how GIS is used to conceptualize, organize, analyze, and visualize geographic information, introduce relevant GIS concepts, functions, and uses in yet greater detail. The exercises come to life when readers replicate the methods in an interactive, engaging, and fun social learning environment. With the ArcGIS platform, all the maps, data, and tools are online, so anyone can learn by doing at anytime, anywhere, as long as they have Internet access. Through interactive story-telling and hands-on applications, we build a progressive understanding of the entire GIS platform, as a collection of its base elements (web-based maps, apps, tools, workflows, …), assembled in an integrated fashion, and used to find the solutions and information desired.

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LearnGIS: A Novel, Top-down Approach to Learning about GIS

  1. 1. 2014 AAG Annual Meeting April 8-11, 2014 | Tampa, FL LearnGIS: A Novel, Top-down Approach to Learning about GIS Aileen Buckley, Esri aileen buckley | research cartographer esri | 380 new york street | redlands, ca 92373-8100 O: 909.793.2853 x2997 | C: 909.289.1798 abuckley@esri.com
  2. 2. An interactive and engaging social environment to help people learn how to develop geographic knowledge and solve spatial problems
  3. 3. Goal
  4. 4. Focused on questions and problems Where? Why there?
  5. 5. A new introduction to what GIS is… • Enables you to build knowledge and solve problems • Includes rich data sets and powerful analytical tools • Lets you creates maps and other useful information products • Allows you to interact with data in a meaningful way • And…perhaps most importantly…
  6. 6. GIS helps you communicate your information and knowledge “GIS condenses down all the data and our information and our knowledge and our science into a kind of language that we can easily understand—maps.” – Jack Dangermond http://www.esri.com/about-esri/vision/jack_dangermond
  7. 7. Office Professional to Consumer GIS Enterprise Web • Maps • Data • Analysis Individual Powered by . . . Maps & Apps Devices Desktops • Ready-to-use information • Analysis in the cloud • Online maps and layers ArcGIS is Web GIS
  8. 8. Approach • Uses inquiry-based learning to enhance/enrich traditional approaches • Focused on realistic spatial questions and geographic problems • Leverages rich GIS datasets and analytical tools • Uses online technology to enable you to use and share information and resources • The social setting allows you to participate in the community
  9. 9. Inquiry-based learning • “Involvement leads to understanding” • Useful application involves: - a context for questions - a framework for questions - different levels of questions • Inquiry-based learning produces knowledge that can be widely applied • Use of technology is focused on its application to enhance learning rather than learning about the technology itself Case-based learning Challenge-based learning Community-based learning Design-based learning Game-based learning Inquiry-based learning Land-based learning Passion-based learning Place-based learning Problem-based learning Project-based learning Proficiency-based learning Service-based learning Studio-based learning Team-based learning Work-based learning . . . and the new fave . . . Zombie-based learning (look it up!)
  10. 10. What all of these have in common: Focus on an open ended question or task (these require a full, meaningful answer using the person's own knowledge) Provide authentic application of content and skills Build 4 C's competencies (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity) Emphasize student independence and inquiry Inquiry-based Students come up with their own questions, which leads to a search for resources and the discovery of answers, and which ultimately leads to generating new questions, testing ideas, and drawing their own conclusions With real inquiry comes a new answer to a driving question, a new product, or a new solution to a problem Project-based Often multi- disciplinary May be lengthy (weeks or months) Follow general, variously-named steps Includes the creations of a product or performance Often involves real- world, fully Problem-based Often single- subject Tend to be shorter Follows specific, traditionally prescribed steps The "product" may simply be a proposed solution, expressed in writing or in an oral presentation More often uses case studies and fictitious scenarios Question-based Often answer a single question Tend to be even shorter still Follows a specific, traditionally prescribed step (or few steps) There is no product aside from knowledge gained More often uses case studies and fictitious scenarios Inquiry- based learning Project- based learning Problem- based learning Question- based learning Complexity
  11. 11. •Inquiry-based learning •The goal is innovation •You can use the skills gained to get a new answer to a Driving Question, develop a new product, find a new solution to a problem •The focus is investigation •Project-based learning •The goal is to create a product •You can use the skills gained to create similar products or create products in a similar way in the future •The focus is productivity •Problem-based leaning •The goal is to solve a problem •You can use the skills gained to solve similar problems in the future •The focus is problem solving •Question-based learning •The goal is to answer a question •You can use the skills gained to answer similar questions in the future •The focus is knowledge building Inquiry- based learning Project- based learning Problem- based learning Question- based learning
  12. 12. Inquiry implies a “want or need to know" premise, so…
  13. 13. Who is the audience? • Self-motivated learners, such as: - Academic students who want or need to learn about GIS - Professionals who want or need to learn more about GIS - Managers who want to learn more about how GIS can be used in their organization • Teachers who want to get or share resources to teach GIS • Map and GIS librarians who teach, formally or informally, about GIS GIS Professionals Consumers “-ologists” Developers Educators Students Managers GIS Librarians Journalists
  14. 14. 1 2 4 1 3
  15. 15. 1
  16. 16. Lesson example 1
  17. 17. The Power of Maps 2
  18. 18. The Power of Maps - Windows 2
  19. 19. The Power of Maps - Stories 2
  20. 20. The Power of Maps - Analysis 2
  21. 21. Get Started Now 3
  22. 22. Spatial Problem Solving 4
  23. 23. Not a linear process—you iterate, diagnose, review, and backtrack as you make progress spatial PROBLEM SOLVING Explore the issue to find out about important topics Frame the question or questions that you want to investigate Model the analysis approach Figure out the approach that will be used to generate the results Identify assumptions that have a bearing on how you will perform the analysis or what results will be generated Gather and understand the data Gather, manipulate, visualize, and explore meaningful and useful geographic data Perform the steps in the analysis Process the data analytically to draw out essential characteristics Display and assess the results Manipulate and display the results graphically to reveal something interesting or useful Examine the results to identify and understand unusual or interesting patterns Determine if special considerations about the data, analysis methods, or mapping methods would alter the results Understand the meaning of what you see on the maps, tables, graphs, etc… Make sense of these results Evaluate whether the results provide a satisfactory explanation or answer to the spatial question or questions you asked Share your findings with others through thoughtfully- presented geoenriched online maps and apps
  24. 24. Application areas Aid & Development Business Defense & Intelligence Education Government Health & Human Services Mapping & Charting Natural Resources Public Safety Transportation Utilities & Communications
  25. 25. Spatial questions – based on Andy Mitchell’s books
  26. 26. Spatial Analysis - Lesson 4
  27. 27. Concept topics – based on content in books
  28. 28. Concept topics – based on content in books
  29. 29. Online analysis
  30. 30. Rich data sets • Living Atlas • Landscape Layers • Elevation Layers • USGS historic topo quads Analysis tools: • Summarize Elevation • Profile • Trace Downstream • Viewshed • Watershed
  31. 31. Use Story Map templates
  32. 32. Builder apps
  33. 33. Include core topics from GIS&T BoK
  34. 34. LearnGIS Body of Knowledge Geographic question Data Analysis Results Interpretation Communication Implementation Manipulate and display the results in a way the reveals the solution, i.e., the thing that is interesting or useful about the environment • Maps, graphs, reports, information graphics • Symbolization • Qualitative thematic maps • Quantitative thematic maps • Image maps Deconstruct the environment into constituent parts, then gather meaningful and accurate data about the labeled features, attributes, and phenomena that we have identified • GIS basics • The earth and earth coordinates • Map scale • Map projections • Grid coordinate systems • Land information • Geographic data and primary data sources • Data quality and map accuracy • Data modeling and data manipulation Process those data analytically to draw out essential characteristics and produce a solution • Analysis and geoprocessing • Geometric measures • Overlay • Analytical Methods • Surface Analysis • Spatial statistics • Geostatistics • Data mining • Network analysis • Optimization • Location allocation Ask something interesting or useful about the environment • Learning objectives • What • Where • How much • Why Integrate the solution into frameworks, workflows, environments, or processes • GIS and maps in society and organizations • GIS workflows • Coordinating organizations • Organizations structures • Organizational procedures • GI system operations • GI system infrastructure • Reading, analysis, interpretation • Read a map • Read multiple maps • Look for patterns • Look for correspondence • Explain the patterns or correspondence Learn something interesting or useful about the environment Communicate what you have learned to others • Maps, graphs, reports, information graphics • Compilation and page construction (includes map elements and page layout) • Symbolization • Production and publication
  35. 35. Consider Khan Academy Knowledge Map approach
  36. 36. Knowledge Map for LearnGIS Spatial Problem Solving Geographic question What is “geographic” Types of geographic questions Application areas Scale Data Types of geographic data Exploring data Manipulating data Analysis Types of geographic analyses Choosing an analysis method Results Reading a map Understanding how a map was made Understanding artifacts of maps Understanding artifacts of analysis Interpretation Understanding why things are where they are Understanding the relations among features Communication Making a map Understanding how the map reader reads the map Implementation
  37. 37. In the very near future… • Release: Prior to UC in July • More… - Lessons - Examples - Concept topics • Enhancements for more community involvement • Guided GIS Analysis
  38. 38. aileen buckley | research cartographer esri | 380 new york street | redlands, ca 92373-8100 O: 909.793.2853 x2997 | C: 909.289.1798 | abuckley@esri.com