This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Full Description

Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) help us collect, analyse, and display geographic data. We can use GIS tools to pursue a holistic understanding of our environment.

This course will explore the fundamental concepts of GIS technologies using community maintained tools and public domain information. Our primary tools will include Quantum GIS, GRASS, and OpenStreetMap. We will draw from data collected by the United Space Geologic Survey and other government and public data.

We will explore the following:

  • Cartography
  • Map Types

    • Topography
    • Contour
    • Choropleth
  • Coordinate Reference System
    • Longetude
    • Latitude
    • Projections
    • Map Datums
  • Geocoding
  • Features

    • Attributes
  • Layers
  • Data Types

    • Raster
    • Vector

      • Points
      • Lines
      • Polygons
  • Data Sources

    • National Map
    • NRCS
    • Web Map Service
  • Global Positioning System
    • Handheld Receivers
    • GPX
  • Surveying Basics

Students should be comfortable with computer basics such as downloading files, extracting archives, installing software, organizing folders, browsing the Internet, etc..

This is a self-paced course. Students will be graded based on their contributions to class discussions and demonstrated comprehension of core GIS topics. This course is a group collaboration. Participants are encouraged to publish their course materials in publicly accessible locations and formats.

The final task will be a small project to map a location of interest. Students will use GPS technology to record geographic information and other technology to log their field observations. The recorded data will be combined into a capstone field guide or other tangible (digital is fine) resource.

Task Discussion