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Teach the (cartography) Teacher


An information literacy tutorial for
geography teaching assistants

This project, currently underway, will build on a previous training module which I developed, Introduction to GIS, which I presented this past winter as part of ASIS&T's student technology workshops.

For the second phase of development, I am going to solidify the 'demo path' of the presentation, as well as expand the section regarding finding geospatial data on the Internet.

This second section is being undertaken as part of LIS 560 (Instruction Methods). The training module is being directed toward geography Teaching Assistants--graduate students teaching introductory geography or cartography classes who are faced with the double task of teaching the concepts of geography while at the same time training students on a complicated software package. Frequently, data is found and prepared for students to use in lab sessions, but little or no time is devoted to teaching students how to find, evaluate, and import geo-spatial data from the many repositories available on the Internet.

Key issues involved with finding geo-spatial data on the Internet include:

  • finding a dependable repository
  • evaluating the quality and efficacy of the data
  • determining how the data was gathered (aerial or satellite imaging, have the images been orthographically correct, was the data ground truthed, etc.)
  • determining the format of the data.

A standard metadata format has evolved for Internet GIS repositories, based on the Dublin Core, which frequently accompanies downloaded data. It is only by carefully using this metadata to transform projections and units of measure that downloaded data can be made usable.

The training module will be a hands-on demonstration of finding a data source, downloading it, preparing it for use within ARCview, and finally, incorporating the data into a project.