GEOG 871
Geospatial Technology Project Management

GEOG 871 Syllabus



This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to “jump” to a specific section. That being said, it is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Orientation. Together these serve the role of our course "contract."


Pat Kennelly

Pat Kennelly

Department of Earth and Environmental Science
LIU Post
720 Northern Blvd.
Brookville, NY 11548

Phone: (516) 299-2652 (The country code for the United States is 1)
Fax: (516) 299-3945 (The country code for the United States is 1)
Email: Please use the course e-mail system (in Canvas)
Office hours: By appointment


Students are welcome to contact me by e-mail anytime; I usually am able to respond within 24 hours. Although e-mail correspondence is preferred, students may also contact me by telephone at the number above from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Monday through Friday, U.S. Eastern Time.

Pete Croswell

Pete Croswell, PMP, GISP, CMS

College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Penn State
University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (502) 848-8827 (land line), (502) 320-9055 (cell)
Email: (link sends e-mail) or
Office Hours: By appointment


Students may contact me by email at any time. Normally, I will respond within 1 day. Also you may contact me by phone from 7:30am to 7:00pm (Eastern US Time) on weekdays and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekends. If you get my phone greeting, leave a message and let me know when and how I can contact you. If you have questions or would like to discuss any of the lesson assignments, I encourage you contact me.

Return to top of page

Course Overview

Geospatial Technology Project Management (3) Principles of effective project management applied to the design and implementation of geospatial information systems.

In GEOG 871, we will take a critical look at geospatial project management. Project management is a broad discipline that encompasses both technical methods such as system design and analysis, and interpersonal factors that affect professional relationships. Project management is also a discipline that has matured outside of, but can be incorporated into, geospatial technology.

By the end of this course, you will have devised a project plan from a scenario built upon a real-life project involving the city of Metropolis geodatabase. Your project plan will include a scope, detailed work structure with a timeline, a budget, a project roles and responsibility matrix, a quality plan, and a plan to address risk. Although this sounds daunting, don't worry, we'll work through each of these components in an organized and logical manner over the next ten weeks. I hope you'll all supply lots of constructive peer review to your colleagues to help everyone achieve the best product possible.

Most weeks you will complete some component that will be incorporated into your final project plan. Some weeks however you will do exercises or create documents outside of the project plan. These exercises have been designed for one of two reasons: 1) to illustrate how projects fit into the larger mission of the organization, or 2) to understand a process that occurs after the project plan is finished and the project is implemented.

Reading the textbook is vital to success in this course. There are five quizzes during the course, each worth ten points. These quizzes tend to be quantitative and are applications of techniques covered in detail in the textbook.

What will be expected of you?

As you can imagine, you will have plenty to do from week to week. As a rough estimate, you should allow 10-12 hours per week for class assignments. There is a fair amount of writing involved in this class, so if writing doesn't come easily to you should adjust the suggested hours accordingly. One of the greatest challenges of project management is thinking of all factors that can affect a project. I'd encourage everyone to use the class bulletin boards, chat rooms, or e-mail to exchange ideas and help make project plans as comprehensive as possible. I can always be contacted via class e-mail and will check my account daily during the week. If I am going out of town, I may check somewhat less frequently, but I will alert you of this beforehand. Likewise, I strongly encourage you to get in the habit of logging in to the course Web site every day to check in on the class.

My colleagues and I have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. How much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule, and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with me as well as with your fellow students.

For a more detailed look at what will be covered in each lesson, as well as due dates for our assignments and activities, please refer to the semester-specific course schedule that is part of this syllabus (see "Course Schedule").

Return to top of page

Course Objectives

Lesson 1: Introduction to Project Management

  • Understand what a project is, and the difference between a project, program, and a product
  • Grasp the relationship between a project's objectives and the mission and goals of the organization for which the project is being carried out
  • Describe project management and its key elements
  • Characterize the organizational and business context of a project (project team, stakeholders, business requirements)
  • Recognize the factors that contribute to an effective project plan and management approach

Lesson 2: Organizational System, Project Life Cycle, Processes , and Procurement

  • Understand the system view of project management and how it differs from system design and analysis
  • Describe organizational systems, structures, boundaries, and the roles of users, sponsors and stakeholders within and outside of the organization
  • Recognize the phases of a project life cycle, highlighting the unique context of GIS projects
  • Describe the five project management process groups and how each occurs within each project phase
  • Understand the role and approach for managing project-related procurements of products and services
  • Appreciate the role of procurements for products and services in the context of GIS projects

Lesson 3: Strategic Planning, Scope and Project Charter

  • Describe how strategic planning should influence projects undertaken by an organization
  • Define the scope of a project and its relationship to deliverables
  • Understand how to identify project benefits and prepare a convincing business case justification
  • Describe the importance, use, and design of a project charter

Lesson 4: The Human Factor and Communication

  • Understand human resource issues associated with personnel assignment, loading and leveling
  • Create and use appropriate human resource tools, such as project organizational charts, responsibility matrices, and human resource histograms
  • Grasp the importance of individual motivation, skills, and personality types in assembling and managing project teams
  • Improve your skills in all aspects of project communications

Lesson 5: Time

  • Describe the importance, use and design approaches of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • Understand task relationships and factors that impact task and project timing
  • Describe the Gantt chart's use as a tool to help visualize planned project tasks or or task schedule status
  • Acquire basic familiarity and skills with the use of project management software

Lesson 6: Cost

  • Describe the basic principles and concepts of cost management
  • Describe key inputs into cost estimates and budgets
  • Assign resources (team labor time and monetary costs) to project tasks
  • Understand earned value management (EVM) as a means to track and manage project resources

Lesson 7: Quality

  • Understand the differences between quality planning, quality assurance, and quality control, and describe where each fits into the project life cycle
  • Appreciate the specific quality parameters associated with typical GIS projects and deliverables
  • Describe the history, techniques and tools of quality control and management and cite organizations that development and promote quality standards
  • Understand the key processes and steps involved in quality management in GIS projects
  • Describe aspects of GIS projects that require special attention to quality

Lesson 8: Risk

  • Define risk management concepts and risk categories in a project context
  • Prepare a risk management matrix including risk indicators and triggers
  • Carry out a quantitative risk analysis to define potential risks and evaluate risk probability
  • Describe strategies to respond to risk (avoidance, mitigation, transference, and acceptance)

Lesson 9: Integration

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to understand how all project components, covered in previous lessons, fit together and establish a well-coordinated and efficient environment for successful project execution.

Lesson 10: Project Plan

  • Prepare a project plan that addresses all PMI "knowledge areas"
  • Discuss effective execution of a project plan
  • Describe how the system view of an organization and integrated change control processes are important to GIS project managers

Return to top of page

Required Course Materials

In order to take this course, you need to have the required course materials and an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the on-line course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.

You need to purchase the following textbook:

  • Schwalbe, K. (2016). Information Technology Project Management, 8th Ed., Cengage Learning, ISBN-13: 978-1-285-45234-0
  • Croswell, P. (2009). The GIS Management Handbook, Kessy-Dewitt, ISBN: 978-0-9824093-0-5

The Schwalbe course textbook can be purchased through MBS Direct or from a number of commercial booksellers, such as Amazon. Please be sure that you acquire the correct edition. The best source for the GIS Management Handbook is through URISA. You can order it online at this site and receive a substantial discount by entering the code, "GEOG-584."

While not required, you might consider getting the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge available from the Project Management Institute (

In the course materials, you will see links to some other materials that augment the content in specific lessons.

There are no requirements to use a particular software package in this course but the use of word processing and spreadsheet tools, equivalent in functionality to Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel is essential. Also, the use of a project management software package, like Microsoft Project, is strongly recommended for several of the course assignments.  As you work on your course projects, you may choose to use Microsoft Project software, a package commonly used by project managers. As a Penn State student, you can get a free version of this software at Microsoft Imagine (login with PSU AccessID required). Alternatively, a 60-day evaluation copy may come with your Schwalbe textbook, but is available from Microsoft ( Appendix A of Schwalbe's book offers a guide to using Microsoft Project and there are materials at a companion Website at:

Using the Library

Just like on-campus students, as a Penn State student you have a wealth of library resources available to you!

As a user of Penn State Libraries, you can...

  • search for journal articles (many are even immediately available in full-text)
  • request articles that aren't available in full-text and have them delivered electronically
  • borrow books and other materials and have them delivered to your doorstep
  • access materials that your instructor has put on Electronic Reserve
  • talk to reference librarians in real time using chat, phone, and e-mail
  • ...and much more!

To learn more about their services, see the Library Information for Off-site Users.

Return to top of page

Assignments and Grading

There will be a total of 720 possible points in this class. The breakdown is:

Project Assignments and Grading
Assignments Points Each Total Points
8 project assignments 7 individual-based @ 40, 60 or 100 pts;
2 team-based @ 75 points
470 points
3 peer reviews @ 16 pts 48 points
10 Discussions @ 10 pts 100 points
5 Quizzes @ 10 pts 50 points
Total 668 point
Project assignments you complete in the role of the project manager will account for the majority of possible points (470 of 720). Additionally, you will play a number of roles, from end user to human resource manager, in offering constructive input in the form of peer reviews to five of your classmates.

Please note:

Assignments #6 and #7 will be team-based. Further details will be shared as the term progresses. Quizzes on concepts and tools associated with project management will be a part of some lessons and account for the remainder of your final grade.

Submittal of most assignments will require two steps:.

Follow the instructions for assignment submittal that are described in each lesson.

Final Grades:

Letter grades will be based on the following percentages:

Letter grades and percentages
A 90-100%
Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student.

Return to top of page

GEOG 871 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

This course consists of 10 lessons, which we will work through together at a rate of one lesson per week.

Below you will find a summary of the learning activities for this course. Specific details for each project can be found in each lesson. Key due dates will also be posted to the calendar in Canvas.

Lesson 0: Course Orientation
Week #: Week 0
LESSON Name: Course Orientation
Readings and Assignments:
  • articulate your own course expectations as a student in GEOG 871
  • understand the expectations we have of you as a student in GEOG 871
  • locate key information about the course, including assignments, due dates, technical
  • understand the rules and regulations regarding Academic Integrity and plagiarism at Penn State
  • understand how to communicate in this course environment
Lesson 1: Introduction to Project Management
Week #: Week 1
Topics: Introduction to Project Management
Readings and Assignments:
Lesson 2: Organizational System, Project Life Cycle, Processes, and Procurement
Week #: Week 2
Topics: Organizational System, Project Life Cycle, Processes, and Procurement
Readings and Assignments:
  • Read Schwalbe, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and subsections 12.1 through 12.5)
  • Read Croswell, subsections 5.1 and 5.2
  • OPTIONAL Reading-ISD Project Management White Paper (How Much?)
  • Assignment 1, Part 2: Complete report on a project and its fit to an organization’s vision (complete and submit Parts 1 and 2) at the end of Week 2.

Lesson 3: Strategic Planning, Scope and Project Charter
Week #: Week 3
Topics: Strategic Planning, Scope and Project Charter
Readings and Assignments:
  • Read Schwalbe, Chapter 5 Schwalbe, Chapter 4 (subsections 4.1 to 4.5) 
  • Read Croswell Chapter 2, subsections 2.1 to 2.5 and subsections 2.7 to the end of the Chapter
  • OPTIONAL: White Paper-Geography and Role of Public Jurisdictions
  • Complete Assignment #2 (Project Charter): Project charter at the end of this week.

Lesson 4: The Human Factor and Communication
Week #: Week 4
Topics: The Human Factor and Communication
Readings and Assignments:
  • Reading: Schwalbe, Chapter 9 and Chapter 10. 
  • Read Croswell, Chapter 4 and subsections 3.1.7 and 3.1.8
  • OPTIONAL Reading-ISD Project Management White Paper (Who Says?)
  • Lesson 4 - Quiz 2
  • Complete Assignment #3: Assemble project team at the end of this week.
Lesson 5: Time
Week #: Week 5
Topics: Time
Readings and Assignments:
  • Reading: Schwalbe, Chapter 6
  • Reading: Croswell subsection 9.2
  • Lesson 5 - Quiz 3
  • Start Assignment  #4: Work breakdown structure and Gantt chart (due at the end of Week 6).

Lesson 6: Cost
Week #: Week 6
Topics: Cost
Readings and Assignments:
  • Reading: Schwalbe, Chapter 7
  • Read Croswell, subsection 5.1 and re-read Croswell subsection 9.2.2
  • OPTIONAL Reading-ISD Project Management White Paper (What is the Status of your Project?)
  • Complete Assignment #4 (begin in Lesson 5)
  • Start and complete Assignment #5: Budget

Lesson 7: Quality

Week #: Week 7
Topics: Quality
Readings and Assignments:
  • Reading: Schwalbe, Chapter 8
  • Reading: Croswell, subsection 3.3
  • OPTIONAL: Read PlanGraphics Tutorial on GIS Database Quality Control and Quality Assurance
  • Lesson 7 - Quiz 4
  • Start Assignment #6 (Team Assignment): Quality management (Due at the end of Week 8)
  • Peer Review #1: WBS and budget (as business manager of contractor)
Lesson 8: Risk
Week #: Week 8
Topics: Risk
Readings and Assignments:
  • Reading: Schwalbe, Chapter 11 and Chapter 4 (subsection 4.8). .
  • Re-read Croswell, subsection 9.3
  • OPTIONAL Reading-ISD Project Management White Paper (Whose fault is it?)
  • Lesson 8 - Quiz 5
  • Complete Assignment #6 (Team Assignment): Quality management plan
  • Start and complete Assignment #7 (Team Assignment): Risk identification and analysis

Lesson 9: Integration

Week #: Week 9
Topics: Integration
Readings and Assignments:
  • No reading assignment
  • Start Assignment #8: Create a project plan
  • Peer Review #2: Quality plan (as manager)

Lesson 10: Project Plan

Week #: Week 10
Topics: Project Plan
Readings and Assignments:
  • Complete Peer Review #3 (Risk Plan)
  • Complete Assignment #8: Create a project plan

Return to top of page

Course Policies

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the ITS Help Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure web site which means that your connection is encrypted.  We do however link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted.  This is called mixed content.  By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.  This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed.  Follow the directions on our technical requirements page to view the mixed content.


This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0), Chrome (0.3 or later), or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browser, there will be pages containing equations that do not render properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students."

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: Contacts for Disability Resources at all Penn State Campuses. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources (SDR) website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation, see Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Inclement Weather

In case of weather-related delays at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to weather delays. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information with others whom you do not know.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct and Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.