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GIS Education News Weekly: Summer of Maps, Badges, Oppia

Thursday, March 6th 2014
By Adena Schutzberg

Student Internship with Azavea: Summer of Maps

Azavea invites student GIS analysts nationwide to submit an application to be considered for its third annual Summer of Maps,  a program that offers $5,000 stipends to student GIS analysts to perform pro bono geospatial data analysis projects for non-profit organizations over a three-month period in the summer of 2014. Applications can be submitted until March 16, 11pm EDT. A note from me: Great company to work for/with!

Bagdes, The GeoTech Center and the GTCM

There's a nice round up from ATE of the thinking about badges for education including input from Vince DiNoato of the Geotech Center. He offers this nice list of best practices:

  • Badges need to be based upon competencies that have been established and vetted by the industry, therefore the GTCM is a perfect tool to use as the foundation for the creation of these badges.
  • There needs to be some form of assessment to prove that there is achievement and knowledge.
  • There needs to be some way to record the badges earned and when they were earned.
  • Badges should have expiration dates to encourage people to update their skills.
  • Badges could be a component in an industrial certification that is based upon competencies, but should not be the sole determination of the certification.

Mapping Election Violence in South Africa

South Africa's Institute for Security Studies Crime and Justice Information and Analysis Hub launched a free public violence map viewer that allows Internet users to view and contribute information about public and potential election violence hot spots using interactive maps. Looks like CrowdMap to me.

New Google Tool for Building Interactive Learning Modules: Oppia

Oppia, “a tool for interactive learning,” was announced in a post on the Google Open Source Blog. It's a “20% time” project from some Googlers. It's a tool to build a sort of interactive "if, then" practice/learning environment. If the student get it's right, branch one way, if wrong, the other way. The examples when I visited the site at lauch were awful, but The Open Universtiy’s Tony Hirst sees a lot of potential. It makes me miss my time with PLATO learning physics in 1983.

Crowdsourcing a Map of Women in GIS

Dr. Linda Loubert of Morgan State University is crowdsourcing a map of women working in GIS for Women’s History Month. The request to participate e-mail, which came to me from an Esri' staffer, noted the creation of map of potential role models. Many of the dots on the map contain names, employer names and ZIP Codes. A note from Dr. Loubert encouraged me to "Please. Only post what you are comfortable to post. Nothing more." That's good advice on any crowdsourcing project that involves personal data.

Location-based Gaming: A Way to Learn Geography?

lightweight argument suggests that a new, free, location-based shoot 'em up game for iOS called In a Space can help teach geography. It debuted in the Canadian AppStore on Feb. 14 and  a wider release is expected. The Actoz Soft "game entices kids to save planet Earth from space invaders by providing them with fully equipped weapons." The location-based part? They begin where they live and shoot and apparently blow up things like the Eiffel Tower (Paris!) and Statue of Liberty (New York!). I suspect game vendors can do better. Here's how the vendor describes the location-based bits:

--Location Based Service (LBS)—
Real world map is based on user's location
Fun & challenge of being part of the community in your city
10 zones are created based on user's location

Loss of a CIESIN Geospatial Educator

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) reports that associate director for Geospatial Applications Mark Becker died in a multi-vehicle accident on Wednesday, February 26. He was 53. The accident occurred at about 10:45am on the New York State Thruway in Woodbury, NY.

In his 15 years at CIESIN Mark made contributions that will be felt for a long time. He began his CIESIN career in February 1999, and was soon appointed head of the Geospatial Applications Division. With BA and MA degrees in geography, he had deep technical skills in geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial data analysis. In many ways he helped bring GIS to Columbia, as manager of the GIS Service Center and ESRI site license. He helped install many of the early GIS labs on campus and helped train many of the people who operated them. He taught some of the first GIS classes at the university, in several departments, and was in high demand because of his reputation as a thorough, patient, and effective teacher. In the 2013-2014 academic year he was an adjunct professor in Columbia College’s sustainable development department and the Mailman School of Public Health. Mark also led many training workshops around the world in spatial data analysis and related topics.

Mapping Twitter Discussion Communities

University of Maryland computer scientist Ben Shneiderman  (who is very cool; I've heard him speak) and a team at Pew have mapped conversation on Twitter and find it falls into six distinct patterns or networks.

  • Polarized Crowds that often form around political topics and communicate very little with those holding opposing viewpoints;
  • Tight Crowds that share spaces of learning and passion;
  • Brand Clusters that form around products and celebrities;
  • Community Clusters created around global news, with popular topics developing multiple smaller groups;
  • Broadcast Network structures created by people re-tweeting commentary from pundits and breaking news; and
  • Support Network/customer service conversations that revolve around a singular source. 

The paper is online (HTMLPDF).

Using LiDAR Videos

four-part video series has been prepared for the University of Maine and its Surveying Engineering Technology Program to help illustrate the day-to-day applications of LiDAR in land surveying. I thought they might be valuable to educators.

Open Education Week is Next Week

Open Education Week is a series of events to increase awareness of open education movement. The third annual Open Education Week takes place from March 10-15, both online and offline around the world. Through the events and resources, we hope to reach out to more people to demonstrate what kind of opportunities open education has created and what we have to look forward to.

The FAQ is a good place to start if you are a bit sketchy on what open education includes. The event is organized by the Open Courseware Consortium.

Geography and Related Fields Endowment at Central Washington University

Alumnus Joseph Stoltman and his wife, Gillian, recently donated $100,000 to Central Washington University to establish a new endowment. The funds will provide scholarships for students in geography, resource management, and potentially other programs on campus. A 1962 graduate of the geography department, Joseph is currently a University Distinguished Scholar and longtime professor in the Department of Geography at Western Michigan University. Gillian has a doctorate in virology from University College, London.

New Date: Geospatial Learning and Analysis Across the Curriculum

For National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) member institutions comes "Geospatial Learning and Analysis Across the Curriculum." The web-based  seminar runs April 15. It was originally scheduled for Thursday March 6, 2014. 

MapStory Education News

Per the website, MapStory "is a place to unify and improve ... shared knowledge about global change." It's also a place to make online maps and it's been pitched to educators, among others, since launch in 2012. And, the news bits:

The MapStory Foundation announced Drs. Scott Nesbit and Adam Arenson as co-chairs of the Humanities Advisory Council that will guide the mapstory.org global data commons towards the needs and aspirations of scholars across the humanities disciplines. 

American Geographical Society (AGS) has partnered with MapStory to build a nationwide “AGS MapStory Ambassadors Network” which will empower ambitious high school and college students to spend a summer mining their own home communities for exciting historical geo-data to tell stories about community change that can be shared with the world at mapstory.org. Some serious fundrasingin is involved to make this work.

Elmhurst MOOC on Digital Earth

Skills for the Digital Earth, a four week Massive Open Online Course from Elmhurst College, is now open for registration. The course begins Sunday Mar 30 and will taught by Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & Geosciences, Dr. Rich Schultz. It's offered in partnership with the GeoTech Center. The most detailed information on what will be taught is available here.

Merced Geospatial Summit Conference UC Merced is hosting its fourth annual Geospatial Summit Conference, March 14, in the California Room. Former UC Merced graduate student Paul Doherty, who mapped California's Rim fire is the keynote speaker.

Esri Education Summit

Brookhaven College, Davis Demographics, Esri, GISetc, U.S. Computing, Alexander Open Systems are hosting a GIS K-16 Summit for Educators and Administrators at Brookhaven College in Dallas April 11. It's free, with limited attendence. I think there is also one in Denver in March but could find no information about it on the Web. 21 with details here. Thanks to reader Phil!

Class Fee: Refundable After Attendence

This is just clever. MarkLogic, the enterprise data company, offers online courses for a fee. But the fee is returned once you attend. Intresting way to insure the marketing/training dollars are well used.

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