Maps and the Geospatial Revolution

Postscript and Credits


Making A MOOC Is Hard

Developing this MOOC on Mapping has been the most exciting project I’ve ever worked on. While I have spent a lot of time and effort on developing this course, it’s not something I did alone.

Erin Long is my learning designer for this course. A lot of folks assume that online classes are the result of professors just slamming a bunch of lecture videos on the web. That’s a good way to develop a crappy online class, actually. Erin knows how people learn, understands how to enable that learning through the right uses of technology and assessment methods, and her expertise has enabled this class to offer something of sustained value to students. Plus, she’s a great co-worker. Good online classes require collaborative development between professors and learning designers. I couldn’t have asked for a better one than Erin.

This MOOC started off on the right foot with tremendous support from the Esri Education Team, led by David DiBiase. He and his colleagues Joseph Kerski and Angela Lee helped to critique my initial course objectives and paved the way on Esri’s side to develop cool lab assignments in ArcGIS Online that would scale well for thousands of MOOC students. Joseph Kerski developed the core content for most of the lab assignments after we dreamt up lab objectives together, and his enthusiasm for doing everything possible to make this class great has been incredible.

A lot of people at Penn State have helped make this class possible, starting with Craig Weidemann and Cole Camplese who kicked off our University’s MOOC efforts and invited me to take part in the early planning phases of that work (which led to me badgering people about this course concept). Craig and Cole were very supportive of my proposal, despite the fact that I was definitely not an obvious choice for one of Penn State’s first MOOC professors (Geography + Not a Famous Professor = Great MOOC?).

I am fortunate to have had tremendous support from Ann Taylor, Director of the Dutton e-Education Institute, who has backed this project since day one and has made sure that I have what I need to be successful. My colleagues who teach in our Online Geospatial Education programs have also been very supportive of this MOOC, and I’m hoping that it compels some of you to take classes with us to experience their excellence firsthand.

Patrick Blonski came aboard at just the right time and did a great job editing the lecture videos, while adding little tidbits here and there to jazz things up.

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge my wife and daughter who have tolerated six months of exceptionally ridiculous workaholic behavior from me. I couldn’t have done this without their love.

Did You Like This Class?

If you thought this class was cool and you’d like to do something nice for me, here’s my wish list (in descending order of likelihood that any of these things will happen):

  1. Tell a friend or family member about the class. Convince them that Geography is completely awesome. Show them your maps.
  2. Say something nice about this class on CourseTalk.
  3. Send a postcard to 430 Earth and Engineering Sciences, University Park, PA, 16802, USA.
  4. Donate a few bucks to my unit at Penn State so that we can afford to crazy stuff like MOOCs.
  5. Buy a t-shirt, mug, or ridiculous area rug. All proceeds will go toward future improvements to this class.
  6. Take a class with us here at Penn State.
  7. Figure out a way for me to drive an Audi RS4 Avant or RS6 Avant, two cars that have captured my desire but will never be imported to the United States. I've tried begging Audi to take money from me so I could drive one while I was in Germany and that didn’t work.

Did You Hate This Class?

If you hated this class, then I sincerely apologize for wasting your time. Please tell all of your friends on Facebook and Twitter that I made a terrible class and that I should be banished from the Earth. And tell them that you'll never again pay zero dollars for something that someone spent 6 months of their life creating for you.