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Bringing Operational GIS into University Classrooms
This study explores an innovative approach in teaching operational GIS to students who have taken only one introductory GIS course. It brings real world cases into university classrooms and exposes students to practical solutions of multiple scenarios. In the course of 15 weeks, students learn the complete project cycle from problem definition, data review, project planning, to step-by-step operations, including data modeling, procedures automation, visualization, presentation and reporting. The class forms teams to solve network logistic routing for an emergency relief operation, design a geodatabase for a municipal GIS department, and perform 3D modeling for a campus solar radiation analysis.
The design of the course allows students to learn the skills needed for solving all three cases in class, while focusing on one of the cases for hands-on work in lab hours and take-home assignments. The combination of lectures, demos, student presentations and class discussions provides an engaging environment for all students. Guest lecturers from the case sponsoring organizations bring real world experience and scenarios into the classroom, enriching students’understanding of the problems and making sure that the classroom solutions are indeed operationally sound. Such a course becomes the students’ training ground and the case sponsoring organizations’problem solving test bed.