Concepts in GIS - Colorado State University

Colorado State University
Department of Earth Resources
NR 505
Fall 2006
Concepts in GIS
Dr. Melinda Laituri
NESB A110 Tel: 491-0292
e-mail : [email protected]
Office hours : 12-1pm MW ; by appt.
Teaching Assistant : Jill Terlaak, NR 302, email : [email protected]
A. Course objectives
This course is designed to introduce graduate students to concepts in geographic information
systems (GIS). The purpose of the course is threefold:
to examine the broad research context in which GIS is adopted and used through
an examination of the literature;
to gain hands-on experience using GIS software and methods in an integrative
fashion with other technologies (remote sensing, Internet) and methodologies
(cartography, spatial analysis, field methods); and
to understand concepts through application by designing a GIS project.
The objective of this course is to allow students a venue in which to apply newly acquired skills
in geospatial information technologies. Laboratories will provide students with basic skills and
information on GIS software, Internet data sources and examples of research activities.
Lectures are interactive and student driven. Students will collect relevant articles for discussion
and presentation in class in addition to materials provided by the instructor. These interactive
seminar-style lecture meetings will focus on the question: what are the current areas for
research in GIS? Most importantly, students are expected to apply their understanding of GIS
concepts by preparing a GIS project.
B. Course materials
Required text: Theobald, D, GIS Concepts and ArcGIS Methods
Readings are identified on the Schedule handout. Many readings are available on-line and
there will be several readings made available in class.
C. Course structure
This course will consist of lectures, laboratories, and project design. Readings are assigned
prior to lecture and lab. Students should come to class prepared to discuss the materials.
Course work consists of the following:
1) GIS demonstration project (40%)
2) laboratory and lecture exercises (40%)
3) final exam (20%)
Course work is expected to be completed and handed in when due. NO LATE PAPERS OR
ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED, unless in case of medical emergency. Students are
expected to attend both lecture and lab meetings as well as all student presentations and to
participate in class discussions.
NR 505: Concepts in GIS Syllabus
Fall 2006
D. Course assessment
1. On-line GIS Demonstration Project: Puerto Rico
You will develop an on-line GIS demonstration project. This project will demonstrate
some type of GIS analysis targeted for a high school environmental education class.
A description of this project is attached to this handout.
The entire webpage (and CD) must be complete by December 4. NO LATE
2. Laboratory exercises and lecture assignments
Weekly laboratory meetings are scheduled throughout the semester. Students will be
expected to complete:
Weekly lab assignments. Laboratory exercises are due the following
week in lab. NO LATE LABS WILL BE ACCEPTED. All final labs should
be word-processed and/or in a map format.
Lecture assignments will include short critiques of articles discussed in class. All lecture
assignments must be word processed.
3. Final exam
Each of you will meet individually with me for an oral examination. We will schedule time
during the last day of class and during the final exam period.
NR 505: Concepts in GIS Syllabus
Fall 2006
NR 505: Concepts in GIS
Fall 2006
On Line GIS Demonstration Projects
Project description:
GIS is touted as being an important tool for data dissemination, integration and decision
making. Desk top GIS and open source resources are making GIS applications more available.
All levels of education have been incorporating GIS projects and activities into their curriculum.
This semester we are partnering with the Puerto Rico Biocomplexity Project to devise webbased GIS applications that demonstrate to the K-12 (specifically, high school) education
community the utility and analysis capabilities of geographic information systems. Our task is to
demonstrate how GIS can support data analysis based upon the existing data and other
ancillary data to be collected from the Internet.
The Puerto Rico Biocomplexity Project partnered with the Thompson Valley High School last
spring. This activity focused on creating a state of the watershed for the Big Thompson
watershed. Watersheds in Puerto Rico and Colorado share similar characteristics and issues.
In Puerto Rico, the watersheds under study represent an ecological gradient from the ocean to
the mountains. In Colorado, the Big Thompson watershed has a ecological gradient from the
plains to the Rocky Mountains. Both areas are experiencing urban and exurban development
that is influencing the stream and road networks in their respective watersheds. There is
extensive digital data that provides the basis for conducting comparative analysis between the
Puerto Rico and Big Thompson watersheds. (However, you do not have to do a comparative
project if you don’t want to…)
Explore the Puerto Rico Biocomplexity website to learn more about the project:
You will be divided into partners. Each team will develop an on-line GIS application that
is relevant to the Puerto Rico Biocomplexity project. You will be provided access to the Puerto
Rico and Big Thompson datasets – however, in addition you must collect some other data from
another source and incorporate that data into your project. Your project MUST include some
type of spatial analysis; this analysis will be dependent upon the topic you select. In addition,
working sessions will be scheduled during the semester during lab time.
Project timeline:
20 September
-determine partners and project topic, 1 paragraph description
13 and 27 November -in class lab sessions for project
4 December
-completed project* due, project presentation
*Completed project means that it is operational from the NR505 directory at CSU and on a
Your project will be composed of several components:
1. The web-page for your project. This website must include a description of your project and
any hotlinks or images you may want to include (check out previous projects:
The website provides the contextual information for your project, along with user
instructions. The webpage will include a description of your project, data dictionary, a
step-by-step description and explanation of the analysis conducted, and an explanation
NR 505: Concepts in GIS Syllabus
Fall 2006
of the results. The most important part of your webpage is a description of the GIS
concepts used in your project. Your webpage should include appendices that identify
references, resources and the directory structure of your database.
Your html documents will have to be placed on a web server. I will give you instructions
where to locate your web pages.
Email to me:
-your URL address and title of your web page
2. You will conduct the analysis for your project using ArcGIS. However, you will assume that
the user on the Internet does not have access to ArcGIS – so you will have to do a series of
screen grabs to share your analytical procedure.
You will create an ArcGIS project that will reside in a location yet to be determined for
viewing and evaluation. I will want an operating version of your project.
3. All projects must reside in the directory I provide you with and all parts of the website must
be functional. Projects will not be developed in this site – you must create your projects in
your own directory and place only relevant and necessary data files in this directory under
your name. Make sure that I have an operating version of your project in this directory before
you delete your project in your home directory – otherwise your group will receive a zero.
4. Burn a CD-ROM of your project. This includes your entire ArcGIS map document, dataset
and web-page. The project on your CD-ROM must work in order for you to receive credit for
the project.
Final projects will be presented on 4 December using the a projector and labtop. Your projects
will be peer evaluated.
Each group will have 15 minutes. Plan your presentation to include time for questions. During
your talk be sure to include the following:
1. Introduce yourself and your team
2. Identify the target audience.
3. Identify the title of your project
4. Identify and discuss GIS concepts used
For further information, contact Melinda Laituri, [email protected], (970) 491-0292.
NR 505: Concepts in GIS Syllabus
Fall 2006