Overcoming perceived GIS resource limitations

Initial Publication Date: November 21, 2005

This module (Teaching with GIS) is designed to highlight GIS concepts that may be added to many geoscience topics and exercises. In particular, we focus on using GIS at the level of introductory geoscience; however, many of the exercises and concepts may be applied in upper level courses as well. We will attempt to answer the following questions:

Do I need to be a GIS wizard to introduce GIS concepts in my courses?

  • Answer: No! There are numerous web-based mapping utilities, some of which are specifically designed for geoscience applications. In addition, consumer-grade GPS devices and mapping software are both cheaper and easier to learn than the professional GIS/GPS tools.
  • Many students new to geoscience are unfamiliar with mapping concepts that we take for granted as professional scientists. Even simple geographic and cartographic concepts can help them understand more complex GIS tasks at a later stage. The introduction of hands-on map creation/interpretation exercises and the associated terminology can greatly enhance the learning experience of the students.

Aren't the hardware and software requirements of GIS prohibitive at the introductory level?

  • Answer: No! There are many options that may be pursued despite resource limitations or student difficulties with computer tasks. Below are some ideas on what can be accomplished with different levels of resource availability or student background. Keep in mind that this site is focused on how we can introduce GIS within existing introductory geoscience courses:

Examples of Using GIS in Geoscience Education

  • Examples -- A collection of examples that use GIS tools or illustrate GIS concepts that are designed for use in introductory geoscience classes.
  • Online GIS Resources -- A collection of online GIS tools, data sets, and maps for use in class, lab, or exercise.