GEOG 586
Geographic Information Analysis

Welcome to GEOG 586 - Geographic Information Analysis


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This website provides the primary instructional materials for the course. The Resources menu links to important supporting materials, while the Lessons menu links to the course lessons. Canvas, 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.

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Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit. Information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education programs is available at the Geospatial Education Program Office.

Quick Facts about GEOG 586

  • Course Structure: Online, 10-12 hours a week for 10 weeks
  • Overview: Choosing and applying analytical methods for geospatial data, including point pattern analysis, interpolation, surface analysis, overlay analysis, and spatial autocorrelation. Prerequisite: GEOG 485 or GEOG 486 or GEOG 487

    Geography 586 is a required course for Penn State's Online Master of GIS. This section is being offered to students around the globe through Penn State's World Campus. It is a "paced" course, which means that there is an established start and end date and that you will interact with other students throughout the course. The course is 10 weeks in length (plus a required "Orientation Week" preceding the start of the course), at a rate of 1 lesson per week. The course is organized around eight short weekly projects and a more substantial project pursued through all ten weeks of the course, with milestones through the term. Weekly projects include associated readings, quizzes, and discussions about the analysis of spatial data.

    This is a course in analytical methods for handling specifically spatial data, that is, data where the arrangement of observations in space is thought to be of significance. The techniques introduced are often mathematically complex, but while these aspects are covered in the course, the emphasis is on the choice and application of appropriate methods for the analysis of the spatial data often encountered in applied geography. Weekly projects are hands-on, using geographic information systems or other appropriate computational tools, so that students appreciate the practical complexities involved, and the relative limitations of these methods in contemporary desktop GIS.

    Through the weekly projects, students acquire familiarity with use of a single method or family of methods in standard desktop tools, so that they can focus on aspects of that method and develop a thorough understanding of its potential and of its limitations. Problem scenarios range across demographic, planning, crime analysis, landscape analysis, and other application areas. The term-long project is intended to allow students to formulate a research problem in a topic area of their own choosing, to gather and organize appropriate available datasets, and to understand how a variety of methods among those covered in the course can be applied in combination to thoroughly explore real questions. Students will be asked to engage with their peers' work during the project planning stage. They will also be encouraged to consider developing customized tools to automate repetitive analysis tasks, if they have previous programming experience.

Meet your instructor

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FRITZ KESSLER: Hello. I'm Professor Fritz Kessler. I'm one of the MGIS faculty that teach a variety of online courses through the MGIS program. I also teach a mix of residential courses through the geography department. Most of my course topics deal with cartography and spatial statistics. I came about to these topics of interest because of my mathematical background during my undergraduate schooling. I gravitated towards geography because I found out that cartography was inherently mathematical. And one of the topics in particular, map projections, is very mathematical, and there was a natural inkling for me to take up cartography because of that mathematical association. When I'm not doing cartography or researching cartography or teaching, I like to play the banjo. I play a lot of bluegrass bands and festivals and so forth. I also play guitar and mandolin. I look forward to meeting you in a future course. And if you have any questions or reach out to me, I'd be most welcome to hear from you. Thank you.

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