Part three of a three-part series
Stephen A. McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel presented at the GIS in the Rockies conference this year on the emerging topic of enterprise GIS and how the coursework in our online GIS programs will gear individuals to excel in the professional world.
It’s been an exciting few days in Denver, home of the GIS in the Rockies conference, the premier regional geospatial information and technology conference. And American Sentinel was in the thick of it, as a sponsor of the entire conference, appearing in the exhibition hall, and through two presentations given by our GIS Program Chair Stephen McElroy.
Dr. McElroy’s first presentation was on American Sentinel‘s development of an enterprise-level geospatial strategy course. Titled Teaching Enterprise GIS: From Theory to Practice, his talk describes how we have addressed an important but often overlooked part of GIS practice.
Although GIS has become a sophisticated course of study at a number of universities, the topic of enterprise GIS — a complete approach for sharing, using, and managing geospatial information to meet business and workflow needs — has received relatively little attention. Driving and enabling such an undertaking requires specific knowledge, tools, and strategies beyond those required to implement a single simpler GIS project. That is why American Sentinel created a 3-credit course to prepare students to address the real-world challenges of creating, operating, maintaining, and managing an enterprise GIS in the workplace.
Students begin by selecting an enterprise scenario that becomes the context for a broad series of activities, exercises, and reports to customize and document a multi-user geographic information system of their design. By putting students into a replication of a real-world situation, they learn to develop a systematic approach that acknowledges potential problem areas and enables the organization to work through them.
Immediate after this talk, Dr. McElroy gave a five-minute “lightning” session called Using Badges to Document Competency-Based Geospatial Learning, about American Sentinel’s new GIS badge system, which provides a way to document competency-based learning about different geospatial topics. The badge system is part of the online learning lab and serves as a way to help track the work students do and given them a measurable feeling of accomplishment. There are currently ten GIS topic areas, or competencies, including image analysis fundamentals; spatial statistics; geoprocessing modeling and automation; and 3D visualization and analysis.
Each topic area has a three-tiered system: basic, intermediate, and advanced. There are usually six to eight activities or tasks that a student must complete to obtain a badge and each of the three badges in a topic area will require about six to eight hours, or roughly an hour per activity.
Outside of Dr. McElroy’s busy schedule, we had an exhibit booth and also sponsored a social event Wednesday evening. If you were in the area, we hope you had a chance to stop by. It was a pleasure to see and speak with so many people interested in GIS.
Did you attend GIS in the Rockies this year? Have specific questions for Dr. McElroy about our GIS programs? Share your conference experience and questions on our Facebook page or Tweet us @AmerSentinel using #GISITR.
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