Context

The diffusion of GIS technology into society has occurred rapidly in recent years. Today GIS is visible in our everyday lives - from travel maps on the World Wide Web to countertop workstations in City Halls. The reasons for this are many - more readily available data, better dissemination of data through telecommunications, easy to use point and click interfaces and readily available data format translators are but a few. These advances suggest that GIS is becoming less technical in nature, which is partially true for many end users. But, there nevertheless remains a need in the industry for graduates of college and university programs to be well grounded in various aspects of computer technology. An excellent article in the Spring 98 ARCNews by Duane Marble argues that this is necessary if GI science and technology to continue to advance.(URL http://www.esri.com/news/arcnews/spring98articles/01-rebuilding.html )

Overview of this Unit

This unit is designed to assist the technical GIS educator in identifying the computer skills required for GIS tasks. Basic computer literacy skills are presented as a foundation for technical GIS computing skills. The latter are organized into several categories (e.g. 'Systems', 'Programming', 'Databases'), with lists of skills at different levels of achievement (Awareness, Competency, Mastery). The computing skills are hyperlinked to the Follow-up Units section.

The Example Applications sections presents 3 common implementation models of GIS programs or courses in Community Colleges, based on the amount of GIS and computer courses included in the curriculum.

Basic Computer Literacy Skills

An assumption of this unit is that the student possesses the following basic computer literacy skills prior to entering a GIS course or program;

GIS Computing Skills

Technical GIS computing skills can be organized into several categories;


Example Application

The implementation of GIS courses and programs in community colleges can be roughly categorized into three groups;

Group 1 - Community Colleges which have 1 or 2 courses in GIS within a traditional course of geographic studies. The focus is on providing the student with exposure to basic principles of GIS, applications examples and elementary use of GIS software. There may be little or no flexibility in the curriculum for the student to take additional computer courses. Generally speaking, the student will possess good awareness and some competencies in the various categories of GIS computer skills after completing the course of studies.

Group 2 - Community Colleges with an AAS or similar degree or certificate program in GIS, which have a component of computer skills required for graduation. For example, there may be a required programming course for GIS customization, or a course in Relational Databases or CAD. Students gain some computer competencies and mastery.

Group 3 - Institutions which offers a highly specialized diploma/certificate program in GIS, and which are characterized by significantly more emphasis on programming, systems, databases etc. Such programs might require a university or college degree as prerequisite, and the course of studies centers on GIS and related subjects. Students gain competency and mastery in many areas of computing.


Learning Outcomes

The following list describes the expected skills which students should master for each level of training, i.e. Awareness/Competency/Mastery.

Awareness is demonstrated by being able to define each concept, for example, 'What is a computer program ?'

Competency is demonstrated by being able to to apply knowledge in a practical fashion. For example, students would be able to write computer programs in a high level langauge.

Mastery is demonstrated by being able to apply knowledge in a practical fashion, in an area of advanced computing technology. For example, students would be able to develop a GIS application using component software technology.


Programming

Awareness:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary Competency:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary Mastery:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary

Files and Databases

Awareness:

 Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary Competency:

 Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary Mastery:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary

GIS Application Software

Awareness:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary Competency:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary Mastery:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary

Computer Systems and Networking

Awareness:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary Competency:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary Mastery:

Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to

Vocabulary

Follow-up Units

The units which utilize some of these computing skills are indicated below.

Basic Computer Literacy Skills

Unit 20 covers the use of text editors.

Unit 21 covers the use of spreadsheets.

Programming

Unit 9 demonstrates why students need to know scripting languages and have an understanding of the internal representation of data and files.

File Handling and Databases

Unit 19 covers planning a tabular database, and Unit 22 covers merging spatial and tabular data.

Unit 30 covers validation of database, and Unit 31 general management of database files.

Unit 32 deals with managing digital libraries of GIS data.

Application Software

Unit 13 on digitizing gives examples of data entry and how data management skills, such as edge matching, are used.

Unit 16 covers planning a scanning project and emphasizes the importance of understanding image characteristics for data acquisition. See also Unit 18 on airphotos.

Unit 23 covers in depth the use of CAD software and its role and relationship to GIS.

Unit 24 covers GPS data acquisition; Unit 25 covers COGO input.

Units 26, 27 and 28 are concerned with feature editing

Units 33 to 46 cover basic GIS analysis. See Unit 42(map algebra), Unit 45 (location/allocation ), Unit 46 (address matching), for advanced analysis topics.

Computer Systems and Networking

Unit 1 requires the student to have a good understanding of files, transfer protocols and compression methods. Unit 6 also gives examples of how to use the Internet to acquire data.

Units 49 and 50 cover operation of peripherals.


Resources

See the CCTP Resource section for examples of GIS Community College curriculum and courses.


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Currently maintained by Steve Palladino
Created: May 14, 1997. Last updated: December 21, 1998.
Content comments to Ross Miller
Formatting comments to Steve Palladino