GEOG 884
GIS for the GEOINT Professional

Geography 884 Syllabus

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Geog 884: Geographic Information Systems for the Geospatial Intelligence Professional

This syllabus is divided into several sections listed below. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in Lesson 0. Together these serve the role of our course "contract."

Disclaimer:

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. Changes will be posted to the course message board.

Instructor

kevin stofan
Kevin Stofan, MGIS

John A. Dutton e-Education Institute
The Pennsylvania State University
2217 Earth and Engineering Sciences Building
University Park, PA 16802-6813

  • Email: Please use the course e-mail system (see the Inbox in the left side menu in Canvas.)
  • Office Hours: Try email first, and then suggest times when an Adobe Connect session or phone call could work.

Overview

GEOG 884 GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS FOR THE GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE PROFESSIONAL - Geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) leverages geographic information science and technology (including cartography, geographic information systems, remote sensing, and global positioning systems) with intelligence tradecraft to develop intelligence products that support national security, disaster response, and international relief efforts. GEOG 884 cultivates in students the knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of geographic information systems (GIS) and the skills needed to realize their potential in the context of the geospatial intelligence tradecraft.

Prerequisites: Geography 882 (497G)

GEOG 884 is one of the courses in the five-course series required for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence. The program is designed specifically for current and aspiring geospatial intelligence professionals who are able to study only part-time and at a distance. It is offered exclusively through the Penn State World Campus.

Geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) leverages geographic information science and technology (including cartography, geographic information systems, remote sensing, and global positioning systems) with intelligence tradecraft to develop intelligence products that support national security, disaster response, and international relief efforts.

Students who successfully complete GEOG 884 will have a basic understanding of geographic information systems. These data products will be used in a variety of application scenarios, using commercially available software tools. Finally, each student will develop a capstone project of their own design, demonstrating their mastery of basic concepts of GIS acquired in the course.

What will be expected of you?

This course requires a minimum of 12 to 15 hours of student activity each week, depending on the speed at which you work. Included in those hours each week is time to complete projects and related activities. You'll be glad to know that you don't have to show up for class at a certain time! All you need to do is complete the assignments before the published deadline at the end of the week.

You will need to check out the course discussion forums 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 into the course Web site at least once a day to keep up with ongoing discussion. With only occasional exceptions, I check discussion forums seven days a week. You can be sure that I will read, but not necessarily respond to, every single message.

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 course schedule that is part of this syllabus (see "Course Schedule"). Due dates for assignments and activities will be posted on the Calendar tab in CANVAS.


Course Objectives

Students who excel in this course are able to:

  • Discuss the differences between raster and vector GIS data, the comparative advantages and disadvantages of each, and how scale affects each type of data.
  • Describe the importance of metadata and data standards, and some of the standard types and sources of data.
  • Discuss the organization and structure of spatial databases.
  • Explain the importance of geovisualization and spatial analysis.
  • Perform GIS operations including queries, filters, buffers, viewsheds, hillshading, map algebra, digitizing.
  • Discuss the challenges facing GIS within a GEOINT context and the likely direction of changes in the future.
  • Analyze and interpret geospatial patterns.

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 online course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.

Required Textbook

There is one required textbook for this course. At the time the textbook requirements were posted for this course the 4th edition was the current edition. The 5th edition was released in April, and I encourage you to purchase that version if you haven't already bought the book. I will provide page numbers for both editions.

Paul Bolstad, 2016, GIS Fundamentals: A First Text on Geographic Information Systems, 770 pages. ISBN: 978-1-50669-587-7.

You can order the text from the author's website. You can also find sample chapters and additional resources on the website. If you purchase the text from another retailer make sure it is at least the 4th edition.

Supplemental References (No Purchase Necessary)

Additional readings may be provided electronically through the course management system and Penn State library services

Required Software

A number of software packages may be used in the course. There is one that you are required to get and a few freeware programs that we may also use. You need administrative rights on your computer in order to properly install the course software. In additional to the minimum technical requirements for the program, please ensure that the graphics card on your computer is OpenGL-compatible and that the appropriate drivers are installed

ESRI ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced 10.3+: You must also have access to the 3D Analyst and Spatial Analyst extensions in order to complete this course. For complete ordering information, see the GEOINT Program FAQ. ESRI ArcInfo is also required for other courses in the Certificate and Masters of GIS programs. The license you acquire for this course will serve you in the other courses as well. The instructions for this course were created using ArcGIS 10.3.1 for Desktop.

QuantumGIS Desktop 2.x.x: QuantumGIS, or just QGIS, is a free and open source GIS software package we will use in addition to ArcGIS. It can conduct many of the GIS operations in ArcGIS and is particularly good at import/export of a wide variety of vector data formats. Although we will not use it in this course, QGIS also integrates well with the open source spatial database PostGIS (the spatial extension of PostgreSQL). You can download the software for Windows and Mac here.

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.


Assignments and Grading

Table of Lessons and Readings
Lesson Lesson Focus Author(s) Chapter Title Pages
1 GIS in GEOINT Bolstad 1 An Introduction to GIS 1-17
2 Vector Data Models Bolstad 2 Data Models 40-53 (33-43)
3 Raster Data Models Bolstad 2 Data Models 54-60 (41-52)
4 Map Projections and Coordinate Systems Bolstad 3 Geodesy, Datums, Map Projections, and Coordinate Systems 85-137 (71-123)
5 Vector Analysis Bolstad 9 Basic Spatial Analysis 392-418 (368-384)
6 Raster and Terrain Analysis Bolstad 10,11 Topics in Raster Analysis; Terrain Analysis 443-473;483-485;504-505 (407-437;443-445;458-459)
7 Data Quality and Standards Bolstad 14 Data Standards, Data Quality 620-636 (565-580)
8 Advanced Spatial Analysis
9 Recent Developments in GIS Bolstad 15 New Developments in GIS 641-657 (585-600)
10 Capstone Project Week

Students earn grades that reflect the extent to which they achieve the course learning objectives. Opportunities to demonstrate learning include quizzes, labs, reflection papers, and a course project. The point scheme and grading scale are shown below.

Schedule

Please refer to the Syllabus in Canvas for the course schedule.

Assignments

Assignments and Point Totals Table
Lesson and Length Points
Lesson Length Quiz Lab Discussion Paper Project Lesson Total Cumulative Points
1 1 week 10 25 5 40 40
2 1 week 10 25 5 40 80
3 1 week 10 25 5 40 120
4 1 week 10 25 5 20 60 180
5 1 week 10 25 5 5 50 230
6 1 week 10 25 5 5 45 275
7 1 week 10 25 5 15 45 320
8 1 week 10 25 5 20 5 65 385
9 1 week 10 25 5 45 430
Final 1 week 70 70 500
Total 10 weeks 90 225 40 60 100 500
Total (%) 18% 45% 9% 8% 20% 100%

Grades

Grading Scale
The final grading scale is shown below.
A Above 90% 450 - 500 points
A - 87.5-89.9% 438 - 449 points
B+ 85.0-87.4% 425 - 437 points
B 80.0-84.9% 400 - 424 points
B - 77.5-79.9% 388 - 399 points
C+ 75.0-77.4% 375 - 387 points
C 70.0-74.9% 350 - 374 points
D 60.0-69.9% 300 - 349 points
F 59.9% or below 000 - 299 points
X Unsatisfactory
(student did not participate)

Class participation will be considered in grading for those whose final course grade is close to the next letter grade.

To view your grades during the semester you need to do the following:

  • Log into CANVAS.
  • Go to the course dashboard
  • Click on the Grades tab

Course Policies

Citation and Reference Style

Academic Integrity and Citation Style Guide

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.

Equations

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.

Attendance

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.


Disclaimer

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.