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."
- Course Overview
- Course Objectives
- Required Course Materials
- Assignments and Grading
- Course Schedule
- Course Policies
435 Earth and Engineering Sciences Building
University Park, PA 16082
438 Earth and Engineering Sciences Building
University Park, PA 16082
Phone: (The country code for the United States is 1.)
- Fritz Kessler: (814) 863-1508
- Beth King: (814) 865-9164
E-mail: Please use course e-mail system (see the Inbox in Canvas).
Availability: Students are welcome to contact the instructors via e-mail at any time. We will usually respond within 24 hours (Saturdays and Sundays may vary). While e-mail correspondence will generally cover the majority of questions and comments that arise, you are welcome to contact us by phone as well. The numbers listed above are our office phones. You are welcome to call between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). After 4:00 p.m., however, you will likely have to leave a message with your number and we will return your call.
This class will be taught as an embedded course focused on data analytics and professional practice in Geographic Information Systems. Penn State students will participate in a collaborative data challenge project to engage with graduate students on a global-scale geospatial analysis problem. Penn State students will collaborate with graduate students from ITC - University of Twente located in Enschede, Netherlands to develop solutions to analyze spatio-temporal patterns in refugee migration data. Penn State students will have the opportunity to present their work and develop new connections with EU geospatial professionals via site visits to European national mapping agencies. Students will work in teams to tackle this global-scale data set, and use GeoAnalytics to arrive at a solution to visualize patterns over space and time.
What will be expected of you?
This course follows a blended learning environment. The first three weeks of the course features collaborative learning at a distance. Penn State students will spend those three weeks engaged in problem solving activities via an online presence. They will also partner with ITC students and interact online. The next two weeks feature Penn State students traveling to Enschede, Netherlands to spend time in an immersive environment collaborating with ITC students. Also included during these weeks will be travels to national mapping agencies of Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. Following this two-week travel abroad, Penn State students will return to their respective homes and further develop the capstone deliverable in both written and video format.
At the successful completion of this course, you should be able to:
- collaboratively develop a workable solution to a geospatial problem;
- work with a large geospatial database;
- explore how visualization and computational tools (such as GeoAnalytics) could help provide a solution;
- synchronously and asynchronously collaborate with peers to provide feedback and listen to critiques; and
- formally present a solution to a large-scale geospatial problem.
Required Course Materials
You will need to check out the course discussions regularly. That's where students and instructors share comments, pose questions, and suggest answers. I strongly encourage you to get in the habit of logging in to the course every day to check in on the class. With only occasional exceptions, we check Canvas six days a week (Monday through Friday and once on the weekend). You can be sure that we will read, but not necessarily respond to, every single message. We 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 us, 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 calendar and modules in Canvas.
In order to take this course, you need to have the required course materials and an active Penn State Access Account User ID.
Specific requirements for this course differ somewhat from the other GEOG courses. In consideration of the fact that this course involves travel to foreign countries, you will need the following:
1. ability to travel to a foreign country for a period of two weeks; and
2. a current passport.
Assignments and Grading
Students earn grades that reflect the extent to which they achieve the learning objectives listed above. Opportunities to demonstrate learning include the following activities:
|Class participation (course discussions)||12%|
|Submitting weekly group project updates||12%|
|Engagement in peer-to-peer reviews||12%|
|Posting updates on group project progress on social media||12%|
|Presentation and submission of group project proposal draft||20%|
|Presentation and submission of final group project proposal||32%|
Letter grades will be based on the following percentages:
Letter Grades and Corresponding Percentages
|A||90 - 100%|
|A-||87.5 - 89.9%|
|B+||85 - 87.4%|
|B||80 - 84.9%|
|B-||77.5 - 79.9%|
|C+||75 - 77.4%|
|C||70 - 74.9%|
|D||60 - 69.9%|
|X||Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)|
Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student.
Please keep a copy of your work. We cannot assume responsibility for lost items.
Project evaluation criteria include:
- Quality: Quality criteria will be posted in the Deliverables section of each project.
- Completeness: All required elements should be present with every submission. Project reports should be properly linked to your Penn State personal home page.
- Timeliness: Project reports must be published by the assigned due date. Contact the instructors if you need extra time. Refer to the course calendar in Canvas for the exact schedule. Please make every effort to submit your deliverables on time.
Late Grading Policy
This class is a dynamic group environment. As such, late submission of materials and reports will only hinder the overall performance and success of the group. A late penalty of 10% per day until the assignment has been submitted will be applied to all group members.
GEOG 597G Course Schedule
This course is 8 weeks in length, with an orientation week preceding the official start of the course. Each lesson is one week long and opens on Wednesday. This syllabus is subject to change at any time. Students will be notified clearly.
|Week 0||Orientation (prior to the start of the class)||
|Week 1||Background Reading||
|Week 2||Proposal Development||
|Week 3||Solution Development||
|Week 4||Travel to European National Mapping Agencies||
|Week 5||Travel to the Netherlands||
|Week 6||Peer-Review of Solution Development||
|Week 7||Synthesis of Experience||
|Week 8||Group Presentations||
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).
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Penn State Affirmative Action non-discrimination statement
- Policy AD 85 Sexual and gender-based harassment and misconduct, Title IX
- Policy AD91 Discrimination and Harassment, and Related inappropriate Conduct
- Penn State Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence
- Penn State Values
- Penn State Principles
- All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
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.