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There is already a Q&A here at GIS SE on Where to find QGIS tutorials and web resources? but this is not a duplicate of that because it is about Instructor-led rather than On-line Training.

For teaching an Intro to GIS class using QGIS, what could be its content?

As an example, the class could be for an Masters in Public Administration program, where students:

  • often look for jobs as government analysts and managers, or non-profit executive directors
  • need to be able to make a simple map that can go in a document
  • need to be able to talk to technical GIS staff intelligently
  • will probably only ever take one course in GIS
  • probably won't be looking for work as GIS techs

Such a course could have these requirements:

  • 20 hours material to be completed over a weekend
  • includes a couple of hours demonstration on QGIS to ESRI parallels
  • to be taught using QGIS

My basic text will actually be "Mapping It Out" (Monmonnier, 1996 ??), which they will read before class and write a short page on, since it is most important they learn how to make an argument from a map as part of a bigger decision making process. I will assign the QGIS tutorial to be skimmed, and have as optional Glaser's book on QGIS and old editions of Dent's Cartography.

I think I will do a demonstration with questions (~2 hours), a little bit of lecture on basic concepts (~3 hours, distributed over the weekend), a lot of practice time (~12 hours), and then student presentations and discussion (~3 hours).

The demo and student maps will start with some addresses, make a locator map of the points, edit them a little for practice, do something with the field calculator, figure out the local demographic characteristics of the points by which tract they are in, calculate some point-in-polygon rates based on local population and point/ event counts, and finish by embedding the PNG in a document and writing a paragraph that refers to the map.

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    Could you please refine your question into a concise, answerable question rather than one that may spur opinion-based answers? Questions such as this are best handled in chat. More details on how to frame a GIS SE question are available at our help center: gis.stackexchange.com/help. – Aaron Sep 12 '14 at 18:41
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    Inline with @Aaron, perhaps this would be best asked on the Meta page? – evv_gis Sep 12 '14 at 18:48
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    I actually don't know how to frame it as a question in the same sense of "how do I find xyz projection". However, this question has generated a fair amount of positive reputation changes, so I wonder if it is OK, actually? (I know the Stackexchange "management" dislikes more open ended, opinion-possible questions, but a lot people actually seem to like them.) – forkandwait Sep 12 '14 at 19:23
  • It occurred to me later that questions about design are often more open ended and lead to opinion based answers but can be nevertheless very useful when you are, ahem, designing something. I agree that we all want to avoid "Which do you like better, emacs or vi" and its variants, but that seems like a different type of question than "how would you design a GIS course?" – forkandwait Sep 12 '14 at 22:46
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    There seems to be some duplication between this question and gis.stackexchange.com/questions/3651/… so the CW process should probably start by trying to specify why it is not a duplicate. – PolyGeo Sep 13 '14 at 0:57
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This may be a little to narrow a suggestion and comment, but a case study I've always found how John Snow stops the Broad Street cholera outbreak inspiring.

The guardian has the data available for download.

I've never done it but if I were to teach a short course about GIS I'd try to use this story, as it highlights that even though they didn't know the exact vector they could still be reasonably certain of how to stop the outbreak.

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  • That's a good idea. I think I will reference that dataset, which is (I believe) in the Monmonnier book, when I do the find-addresses-on-a-map demo. – forkandwait Sep 12 '14 at 22:34
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I think the key to this being successful is to focus more on the public administration component and how maps can be used to aid decision making. Providing the students with sample data and hands-on GIS experience may end up being a logistical nightmare. Are you prepared to handle tech support questions about QGIS installations or is it already available in labs at your institute?

The Snow data set is a good idea but is more about epidemiology than public admin. You mentioned Esri. They have a designation known as Community Analyst, which is defined as follows: "provides people working in government agencies or involved with public planning with reports and maps to help optimize and allocate resources" (http://www.esri.com/data/find-data). They also have a pre-canned set of exercises with 30 day free access located here: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/community-analyst.

Please note that I'm a QGIS user and by no means an Esri devotee. I've taught at the graduate level and I know how time consuming it is to set curriculum, especially that which includes the use of technology.

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  • No offense, but you must work for ESRI right, even though you say you don't? QGIS is totally solid and I completely stand by my choice in technology. My question was about curriculum, so it is interesting to hear about the ESRI data sets, though I probably won't use them. With regards to "providing the students with sample data and hands on GIS experience" -- isn't that what I am getting paid to do as an instructor? And yes, QGIS is installed. – forkandwait Sep 12 '14 at 22:17
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Consider reviewing the material of the QGIS Academy, which was funded by a US Department of Labor grant and is available via a Creative Commons BY 4.0 license, with the module and lab content downloadable from their github account.

If you use the content, consider contributing back to the project. I understand they need some MSWord -> Markdown conversion help.

Specifically, it is based upon the Geospatial Technology Competency Model framework.

Each section, like GST 101 Introduction to Geospatial Technology Using QGIS, has numerous instructor-led videos freely available. Whereas, the currently running actual for-credit courses can be registered for via Del Mar College, located in Texas.

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  • Cool! I will add that to my list of recommended links and readings. – forkandwait Sep 16 '14 at 17:07

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