Friday, August 31, 2007

Class 2: Data Models

Planned and Probable Flight Paths of Amelia Earhart

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Class 1: Intro to GIS 111

In class one, Pete summarized the tools we will be using during this course, including a personal blog, 180-day trial of ArcView, the computer lab, Google and Skype. He provided an overview of GIS and went over the course syllabus. We spent the last 40 minutes of class doing exercises in ArcView.

I am quite excited about this course! I've wanted to learn GIS for some time, and I was
pleasantly surprised about how into it I felt. And I am pleased that Pete is so
passionate about GIS. It always makes class time easier when the instructor is enthusiastic
about what they're teaching.

In the first part of class I learned that with Skype you can share files and see the desktop of the person you're talking with; that you can google Google by texting from a cell phone to find out about local points of interest, like pizza joints; I learned that Pete thinks that My Father's Pizza in Black Mountain is better than Marco's (hard to believe, but I'm going to try it).
I was surprised to learn that GIS can be singular or plural, so that in context it can appear with or without an article. I thought that ArcView was the only ESRI GIS program, when in fact it is the simplest and least expensive of three: ArcView, ArcEditor, and ArcInfo. I also learned that it's pretty easy to convert between coordinate systems (this was one of the problems I ran into when I tried to use ArcView for my thesis).

I liked our not-too-small, not-too-big class size, and that the computer lab is new. It has nice seating for lectures and new computers with good-sized flat screen monitors. I got really excited when we started talking about GIS applications. Something I didn't ask in class was whether or not it's possible to take soil survey maps that are not electronic and incorporate them into ArcView.

I'm looking forward to our final projects. I have a few ideas. I may try to collaborate with a local nonprofit or the New College of Florida ( Environmental Studies Program (http://, or I may do some mapping of the eight acres I live on in south Asheville. I think a lot about how to best manage the land, and I know GIS would help me conceptualize what's there. New College would be especially fun for me--it would be great to go visit at the end of the semester and share with the class. I had a hard time finding work post-college because I didn't know ArcView, so I feel it's important that Environmental Studies students learn GIS.

The only thing I didn't like about class was the long talk about Google. Other than that, class was great.

(Map to come.)