GEOG 481
Topographic Mapping with Lidar

Welcome

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Course Format

Our 3-credit online courses normally require a minimum of 12-15 hours of independent student activity per week. Lessons typically include:

  • reading assignments in the course textbook and on the course website,
  • graded objective quizzes on the reading material,
  • instructional videos demonstrating procedures in the course software,
  • graded hands-on lab activities,
  • peer-to-peer discussions, both graded and ungraded.

The first few days of each lesson should be devoted to reading the online and textbook material, using self-assessment tools provided with each lesson to help master technical vocabulary and key concepts. At the beginning of each lesson week, you should also download and preview the written instructions for the lab exercise. Many of the labs require downloading large data files that take considerable time to transfer depending on the speed of your internet connection. You should plan to do the data downloads ahead of the time you have planned to work on the lab exercise. The final days of each lesson should be devoted to completing the lab exercise, submitting the lab deliverable for grading, asking questions or commenting on your lab experiences in the online discussion forum, and completing the graded reading quiz.

You are not required to attend any lectures or meetings; however, your instructor may choose to host optional webinar discussions or help sessions using a Zoom virtual classroom. Attendance in these sessions is not mandatory and does not explicitly count toward your grade; however, most students find these interactive opportunities are a valuable part of their learning experience. Scheduling of these sessions is at the discretion of the instructor and will be announced by course email or forum post a few days in advance. Recordings will be posted for those who are not able to attend live. Screen sharing in Zoom may also be used to provide individual assistance for a lab or project problem. Access to and use of Zoom is covered later in this Orientation.

You should get in the habit of checking course e-mail and discussion forums in Canvas on a daily basis, where students and instructors share comments, pose questions, and often suggest answers. Instructors generally check e-mail and forums six days per week and will try to respond to your questions and concerns within 24 hours. Instructors will notify students whenever they might be traveling or have short periods of limited internet access; students are encouraged to inform instructors of similar situations particularly if timely participation in course activities may be affected. Instructors may also, at their discretion, also provide a telephone or text messaging contact number.

Final Project

The course culminating project will challenge students to apply knowledge and skills acquired in the earlier lessons in a realistic problem scenario that may require independent discovery and analysis of remote sensing data. Your instructor will describe your final project requirements on the course website.

Most of the work on the final project will span the final few weeks of the course. Students will work individually to scope the problem, determine the appropriate combination of data and application software needed to support analysis, propose the appropriate processing and analysis workflow, and use knowledge of software packages gained in lesson exercises to move to a solution. Each student is required to produce a final report that discusses their understanding of the problem, documents the process of data discovery and analysis, and summarizes their results.

Syllabus

Please carefully review the course syllabus, which can be accessed using the Syllabus link in the online text, or from the Syllabus link in Canvas. The syllabus contains detailed information on the content of each lesson, purchase of textbooks, and access to other required materials for this course.

Textbooks

Students are required to purchase textbooks for these courses. Arrangements have been made with the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing to provide substantial discounts to students who are ASPRS members or student members. Contact the instructor for either individual or student member sponsorship information.

Reading Assignments

There are many reading assignments in these courses, taken from the required textbook and other materials provided by the instructor. Some of these readings go into considerable technical depth that may be beyond the scope of the course. However, there is also valuable high-level information in the readings that is difficult to separate out paragraph by paragraph when creating reading assignments. You should employ all reading techniques described below:

  • Scan: Do not try to absorb all the content, but search through the material for a specific purpose or a specific word.
  • Skim: Read the headings and first sentences of each paragraph or section.
  • Read: After skimming, reread carefully to understand the detailed concepts and arguments.

Use the online text, objective quizzes, and self-assessment tools as a guide for your reading; they will indicate the level of comprehension expected. Carefully read the introductory, overview, and summary material; skim the rest of the assigned section so that you are at least familiar with the content; scan through the technical detail looking for specific topics that are included in the online text or on a quiz. Approaching the reading in this way will help you develop a relationship with the textbook as an ongoing resource to help with a specific problem or delve deeper into an area of interest, during this course and in the future.

Software

Students who are taking this course as part of a Certificate or Master's Degree program should already have a student version of Esri software. New students are eligible to receive a copy of this software; instructions for installing and licensing are provided during the first week of class.

As stated in the Syllabus, other software packages may be used in each of the remote sensing courses. These will be provided at no cost to registered students. Complete instructions for acquiring and installing this software will also be provided during the first week of class.

References and Citations

At various times throughout the course, you will be required to provide references and citations in your postings or reports. Please refer to the syllabus for academic integrity guidelines and citation format requirements.

Questions?

If you have any questions now or at any point during this lesson, please feel free to post them to the General Course Questions and Comments Discussion Forum in Canvas.