00:01So I'm here today to talk to you about online courses that we have in our GIS certificate and master's program offered online...
00:12...specifically, ones having interest to GIS developers.
00:17I was a little bit nervous about giving this presentation, because it comes off a bit as a sales pitch, right?
00:22And I'd be lying if I said that that wasn't part of what we want to do, but, in our defense, couple things.
00:31One, we're selling education and not a product, right? So hopefully that helps.
00:35Number two, all the courses I'm going to be showing you today are completely open.
00:42So anybody in the world can go look at the content of these courses.
00:47What you get when you pay, when you enroll in the course, is access to an instructor and, of course, you get college credit...
00:55...and you get a credential, right, if you complete our certificate or our master's...
00:59...but there are folks, I know lots of folks who use the materials to learn about the topics and then apply it in their workplace.
01:10I get quite a few e-mails from folks like that.
01:13I then have to them away when they ask me questions and tell them that if you want access to me, you've got to pay up.
01:21But, and then the third thing I wanted to mention was, was what...
01:27...oh, the last part of this talk I want to set some time aside for you to give me feedback on...
01:34...how we can better serve the developer community, you know, what could we do differently...
01:42...where are the gaps in our curriculum maybe, so I really would like to hear your feedback.
01:48Okay. So just a quick outline of my talk.
01:55I'm going to give you a short overview of the program as a whole...
01:59...then I'll get into the courses that developers would be most interested in.
02:03I'll talk about what topics we go over in those courses, and then I'm going to show you some good example student work.
02:14Hopefully, you'll have some feedback for me,
02:17You know, if you're a student or thinking about becoming a student, what would you like to see in a program like ours?
02:22And then, as I said, we'll open it up to discussion.
02:24Or if you are somebody who hires folks, looking at job applications, what do you want to see from developers?
02:33Okay. So let's get into the overview.
02:37So we've had an online program in GIS since 1999, so we've been doing this for quite a while.
02:42We started with just a certificate, a four-course certificate that people can finish in about a year.
02:49We operate on a quarter system, a 10-week system as opposed to a 15-week semester system.
02:56That's different from Penn State as a whole, and the reason we do that is because...
03:00...we thought it would better fit the adult professional population that would be taking these courses...
03:08...you know, squeeze the material into a shorter time period so you can get through in a year.
03:14As it says there, we've served a lot of students, all 50 states. I think we got South Dakota not too long ago.
03:23Really, I think all the continents.
03:25We actually had somebody in Antarctica at a research station which was kind of cool.
03:33Penn State's geography department is a pretty well ranked one.
03:37This one, I want to talk to you on for a second.
03:41Our courses are taught by a mix of typical academics, you know, who came up through the academic ranks...
03:50...but then also folks who have a good deal of experience in the real world, right?
03:57And, you know, if you think of a continuum where on one side you've got GI science, and on the other side you've got GI systems...
04:06...we're closer to the right side, the correct side, the GI system side.
04:14The folks teaching in these courses, they get it.
04:16They understand that they're not training the next generation of academics.
04:21They're training folks who are actually applying this stuff in totally different ways out in the real world.
04:29The programs are designed to support both people who are maybe career changers...
04:35...but then also people who are trying to rise up, you know, they're already GIS professionals...
04:39...but they're trying to get a raise or a promotion.
04:42The average age of our students is around 34, so, you know, we're dealing with, again...
04:48...a set of people that are already established professionals.
04:52And we did win an award a couple years ago for the outstanding online program, and this is across all disciplines...
05:07I just wanted to show you a moment...or a map of where our students come from.
05:12Could see that, well, the big one is Pennsylvania, which makes sense...
05:15...but we really only get about 17, 18 percent of our students from Pennsylvania.
05:21We...the next big one is Virginia I think that is.
05:26A lot from California.
05:27Basically reflects the population of the country, right?
05:32About three percent, I think, of our students are international with a lot of those coming from Canada.
05:39Okay. So we have a, as I said, we started with a certificate program in GIS.
05:47That's a postbaccalaureate certificate, so you're expected to come in with a bachelor's degree.
05:54That's a generally a one-year program if you don't take any time off.
05:59In '04, we expanded that into a master's program.
06:03Takes two to three years, maybe more, depending on how many terms you take off...
06:09...and a big part of the master's program is that you complete a capstone project at the end...
06:15...rather than doing a typical academic research thesis, which is not a good match for our adult population.
06:26What we do instead is we have students do some kind of large project that they then present the results of...
06:31...at a conference like this one, for example.
06:33I'm talking to a student right now who's an MGIS student, and he's thinking of doing his capstone presentation here next year.
06:43We also have a couple of options in geospatial intelligence.
06:49There's a graduate certificate.
06:50Similarly, you can do that in a year, year and a half.
06:54And then we also have...Penn State has a master of professional studies in homeland security...
07:00...and an option in there is geospatial intelligence.
07:04That's a pretty popular new program.
07:08And then, finally, you can also take courses just one at a time if you just are looking to have...
07:14...to do some professional development.
07:17For example, if you're a certified GISP and you need continuing ed credits, this might be a good route for you to take.
07:27Okay. So that's the overview of the program.
07:30Now I'm going to show you the courses themselves, the developer focused ones.
07:35I'll just give you kind of a listing of them now.
07:37We have a programming and automation course, which is our Python course, basically.
07:43This was actually our first foray into programming, teaching programming, and it started out as an avenue course...
07:51...believe it or not, back in 2000 or 2001.
07:56Then it turned into a VBA ArcObjects course, and with, you know, VBA being phased out, couple years ago we converted to Python.
08:07Next we have a GIS application development course.
08:12This is desktop customization using Visual Studio, ArcObjects, learning how to write add-ins, things like that.
08:22We have a mashups course where students are taught how to create web maps using the Google maps API...
08:39New...this term that just completed, we have a cloud in the server GIS course where...
08:46...students learn how to work with ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Online, and then in the open realm geoserver.
08:55And then the talk after mine, Frank Hardesty, the codeveloper and coinstructor of that course...
09:01...is going to talk to you a lot more about that course if you're interested.
09:06And then, finally, we have a new course launching this term in spatial database management.
09:11This is similarly going to be a mix of Esri-focused and open material.
09:18We'll talk about Postgres postGIS in the first half of the course and then SDE geodatabase topics in the second half.
09:27Common thread in all these courses is that they finish up with the student doing a project of their own choice...
09:34...which, I think, is a really great thing, and then the students tend to agree...
09:39...because that's where you really start to make all the connections between what you covered earlier in the course...
09:46...and how you're going to apply that in your jobs.
09:51And it's a bit tough for the instructors, because you're getting projects all across the board, right, from all different application areas.
10:01You have to get up to speed on what the student, you know, is doing in their work, but it's worth it.
10:10Another challenging thing in the programming intensive courses, is that we've got some folks coming in with, you know...
10:17...ten years of programming experience, and then we've got some folks that are complete novices, right?
10:21And so we have to kind of adjust our expectations student by student to make sure that, you know...
10:30...we're not expecting too much of the novices and not challenging the experienced folks.
10:38Okay. So let's talk about these in a little more detail.
10:42The Python course, we start out talking about ModelBuilder programming basics.
10:49This is a course that assumes no programming experience.
10:55It's still quite a challenge.
10:57You might be able to attest to that, but we're really hoping that we bring in new programmers to this course.
11:07Kinds of projects that the students do, they start out doing a ModelBuilder project, creating interpolated precipitation map...
11:16...creating contour maps from a DEM.
11:21Getting further into Python now, they create a tool that reprojects a bunch of shapefiles within a folder.
11:32Another project, you've got a bunch of graffiti reports points and some police zones, and you have to aggregate those by zone...
11:40...figure out which zones are of highest concern, lowest concern.
11:46And then kind of a fun one at the end, you're given a text file of sightings of rhinos, and you have to create lines from that.
11:54And then, finally, there's that student-selected final project.
12:00So I want to show you a couple examples of student work.
12:03Kristin Jordan worked or works for the Kansas Rural Water Authority, and what she wanted to do was...
12:11...she has a data migration workflow where she needs to take shapefiles and convert them into geodatabase format.
12:20And there's certain steps that she wants to follow in that workflow, and so she wrote a tool that will check for matches between...
12:31...all of the shapefiles to see if there's a matching feature class in the geodatabase.
12:37And so this reports whether there's a match found or not, little summary there, and then she also spells out, you know...
12:48...that the shape field's going to be added automatically, says that you need to add this field before you do the conversion, et cetera.
12:57So may not make a whole lot of sense to us, but to her, it makes plenty of sense, so and really streamlines her process.
13:08Another example. Mike Pritchard at Adena County, Ohio.
13:13Basically what he wanted was to be able to get a count of how many features have a certain value...
13:21...in a particular field in a feature class.
13:25I guess he doesn't like the existing feature count tool that comes with the software.
13:30He wanted something a little bit different, and so his tool app went something like this.
13:36He talked about wanting to be able to output this in a maybe a tabular format, but he wasn't ready to get there yet.
13:43But, basically, it tells you what the distinct values are in the field.
13:48He chose how many features have that value, what is the total length of those features, et cetera.
13:56So a nice little tool that helps him at his job.
14:00Okay, the application development course.
14:03As I said, this is the ArcObjects course where they delve into ArcObjects interfaced-based programming...
14:10...to get in things like cursors and query filters and spatial filters.
14:18The language the students use in that course is Visual Basic 2010.
14:23Though one thing I want to mention here is that, I've taught this course in the past, and we've had some students who have asked...
14:29...Can I do this in a different language?
14:31And I had somebody do this, and I said okay.
14:35I may not be able to give you all the help that you might want, but if you feel comfortable about it...with it, then go ahead.
14:43And so I had somebody who did all the projects in Delphi, which I'd never encountered in my life.
14:50So we try to be flexible there.
14:55Some projects, very simple things like how you can change the GUI, the ArcMap GUI, building a custom zoom menu...
15:05...with different preset options.
15:08This is a nice one that you can apply to all different disciplines, you know, you've got tile data of some kind...
15:14...aerial photos, for example, and you like to be able to automatically, you know, click on a map and bring in the photo...
15:20...for that spot on the map where you clicked without having to look up a six-digit ID number...
15:25...or something and add it manually, right?
15:27So students learn how to do that kind of thing, create tools for that kind of thing.
15:33And then they finish up with automating the selection of the best place to have a new ice cream business...
15:39...based on all kinds of spatial and attribute criteria.
15:43And again, students select a final project.
15:47Some examples, Roger Bannister, great student.
15:51His company has a layout template that they like to use for all their maps, and he wanted to automate, you know...
16:00...when people want to change the paper size or adjust the scale bar or filling out the title block with a title and the author...
16:07...and all that information.
16:09So he built tools for that, and here's the edit title block dialog that he built, and all that information then gets plopped into the layout.
16:22Second example. Louise Avila who works for ITT in the DC area.
16:30So Louise works frequently with data from the National Weather Service forecast model output.
16:38It gets outputted in gridded format, and they want to be able to turn that into a more GIS-ready kind of data format, shapefile.
16:50So there is a utility called Degrid which does that conversion, but I think it's got a FORTRAN and a C interface.
17:02So she wanted to build a tool that would enable her to use that library...
17:09...and then basically simplify the creation of shapefiles using that library.
17:15So the way her tool works is the user can select an area of interest on the map, a dialog appears asking, you know...
17:26...Where is the gridded dataset which you want to convert? What's the time interval that you want to convert?...
17:36...and then, What's the output shapefile?
17:38And it does the conversion using that library and, you know, really streamlined something that was kind of a tedious process...
17:48...for the folks that were doing that kind of work.
17:54Okay. The mashups course. This is kind of my baby now.
17:59This course goes over web publishing basics, you know, HTML, CSS, XML, then we get into the Google Maps API.
18:18...the Dojo library.
18:24So students learn a lot of different languages in this course, a lot of different technologies.
18:34First project I have, I give them the Word document, and I tell them, Okay, I want you to manually code this using HTML and CSS...
18:43...and that's an eye-opening experience for a lot of folks.
18:49Next project, we do a simple map your home town in the Google Maps API.
18:55Then we get into using custom icons, how you can add info windows.
19:01Then towards the end, we get into creating maps where you've got a sidebar table with links, you know...
19:07...clickable links that will open up the info windows on the map.
19:11And I let the students choose whether they want to load data from an XML file or a KML file or data from Fusion table.
19:20And then, again, they can pick their own final project.
19:23Couple examples. This is someone who wanted to be anonymous.
19:31He works in the military industrial complex and wants to remain unknown.
19:39Basically what he did was he...Esri has a sample server with hurricane data, historical hurricane data...
19:45...and so he built this slick application that allows you to query whether you want, you know, what category of storm you want...
19:54...or you can do it by name, and you can choose whether you want to see the hurricane segmented, as I've done here...
20:01...or you can just see them as, you know, see their complete path.
20:06And by, the segmentation there is by category. It tells you when it changed to a different category.
20:12And then you're got the list of the storms over there, and these are tied together so you can click on a hurricane on this table...
20:20...and it'll highlight it and select a color and vice versa.
20:24So this was a really, really good project.
20:28And then this student, Jun Sun from Iowa.
20:35He put together a nice mashup of LEED certified buildings with some slick user interface elements.
20:45Among the things going on here is he's got clustering.
20:48You can see these houses here are showing clusters of markers, and you have to click on those houses...
20:55...to drill down and see the individual ones.
21:00This guy, when I contacted him to make sure that I was allowed to show his work...
21:06...I found out from him that after the course ended, he built a bus route map for the city...for Iowa City...
21:16...and he also entered into...Chicago was running a, make sure I've got this right, an Apps for Metro Chicago Challenge...
21:26...and he entered it and won.
21:29So it was a recycling map from cycle centers.
21:33So, you know, as an instructor, that's great, very satisfying to see.
21:38This guy also happens to be unemployed, so if anybody is looking for a great web mapper, let me know.
21:48Okay, a couple more courses.
21:50Cloud and Server GIS. I mentioned that this was a new one last term.
21:53I'm not going to go into this in any detail because that's the topic of the next presentation. Frank will be here for that.
22:01Finally, Spatial Database Management.
22:03This is under development.
22:07We're going to talk about SQL, obviously relational database design.
22:12We're going to talk about spatial data types and postGIS.
22:16Then we get into the Esri part of the course where we talk about the geodatabase format...
22:20...working with multiple users, versioning.
22:26Obviously, SQL is the language there.
22:30So the projects, students will have to spend a project writing a bunch of SQL select queries.
22:39Then we'll get into designing a database, given a set of requirements.
22:45Then we'll go into spatial databases, creating a spatial database in postGIS.
22:51We're going to come back to ice cream siting scenario that I talked about before.
22:55We like to use that a lot actually.
22:57It's nice to see how it's done in different areas.
23:02And then some question marks. Still trying to decide on the last projects that we want to use in the course.
23:10Really think we want to use something to do with the Marcellus Shale.
23:13If you're not familiar with it, that's a natural gas layer, geological layer that is really quite a boon right now in Pennsylvania.
Online Courses for GIS Developers Offered by Penn State
James Detwiler of Penn State gives an overview of the university's developer-related course offerings and examples of projects completed by students.
- Recorded: Mar 29th, 2012
- Runtime: 23:32
- Views: 1003
- Published: Apr 30th, 2012
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