GEOG 488
Acquiring and Integrating Geospatial Data

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Welcome to GEOG 488 - Acquiring & Integrating Geospatial Data

New to GEOG 488?

Registered students - if this is your first visit  to this course website, please take some time to become familiar with the assignments and course environment by going to the Orientation, located in the "Start Here" menu (see left).

This website provides the primary instructional materials for the course. The Resources menu at left links to important supporting materials, while the Course Outline menu links to the course lessons. ANGEL, Penn State's course management system, is used to support the delivery of this course, as well, as it provides the primary communications, calendaring, and submission tools for the course.

Not registered? Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit. Students who register also gain access to Safe Software, Readings, and Data through the course management system ANGEL. See the Online Geospatial Education Program Office for information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education programs.

Quick Facts about GEOG 488

  • Instructor: George Chaplin
  • Course Structure: Online, 10-12 hours a week for 10 weeks
  • Interactive: This course has a lot of hands-on work and a lot of interaction with the course instructor that is not reflected in the materials presented here.

Overview: Advanced technical, legal, ethical, and institutional problems related to data acquisition for geospatial information systems. Prerequisites: GEOG 484.

Geography 488 is one the courses students may choose as their final course in the Certificate Program in Geographic Information Systems. The course is specifically designed for adult professionals and is offered exclusively through the World Campus in the Certificate and Master of GIS degree programs. The course is organized around six projects, a course paper, online discussions, and a capstone assignment. The capstone is at your own pace and is based on a problem-based learning approach; this means that there is less direct supervision than in the previous courses. Each project includes associated readings and discussions about acquiring and integrating GIS data. Through the course projects, students confront realistic problem scenarios that incorporate such skills and concepts as definition of data needs, metadata content standards, legal and ethical issues related to data use, data formats and types, interoperability, field collection methods and contributing data for public use. Those who successfully complete the course are able to "spec out "a GIS project.

This involves identifying and evaluating appropriate and cost-effective data sources, assessing and ensuring data quality, creating data dictionaries, determining appropriate data formats given an intended data use, transforming data from one format to another and understanding GIS software functionality related to data conversion. The course is ten weeks in length and requires a minimum of 8-12 hours of student activity each week.

The problem-based learning exercise begins right at the start, builds through the course and is finally published in the capstone project. Problem-based learning is self directed and is quite a change of pace from GEOG 483 and 484. It is much more like a "real world" situation and is appropriate for a final course in the Certificate Program. There is much less direct supervision in problem based-learning; by that I mean that I will not be telling you what to do at every step, but I will be there to offer support and help. The good thing about problem-based learning is that the process is the goal rather than a result. Therefore, it is important to report and document your effort. These include difficulties and failures, as well as successes, that is, in relations to the initial expectations of the project you outlined earlier in the course. Consequently, provided you make the effort, it is very hard to fail in a problem-based learning environment.