June 29, 2021

Five Reasons Why You Should be Using Global Mapper in the Classroom

Written by: David McKittrick


In the two decades that it has been in existence, Global Mapper has undergone a truly remarkable evolution. In its early days, it was a one-person operation and was little more than a geospatial data viewer, providing access to the USGS DRG and DLG datasets. Fast forward to today, and the latest release is virtually unrecognizable when compared to its humble beginnings. Version 22.1 supports over 300 spatial data formats, includes a broad suite of vector and raster data creating and editing tools, and offers a jaw-dropping collection of visualization and analysis tools, with a particular focus on lidar and terrain. Global Mapper is often described as the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of GIS, and it is therefore understandable why this remarkable application has gained an enthusiastic following in the broad field of academia. 


But with many other GIS software options at your disposal, why should Global Mapper be included in your classroom’s geospatial toolbox? Here are five reasons to consider:


  1. One application for all your GIS teaching/learning requirements

Global Mapper provides all the GIS functionality that you and your students are likely to need for a wide variety of teaching and learning experiences in one application. There is no need to juggle multiple software installations or confusing extensions. Whether generating thematic visualization of demographic data, delineating a watershed, creating contours, generating a density map, performing complex raster calculation, or any combination of geospatial workflows, all the tools you need are at your fingertips, right out of the box.


  1. Easy to teach, easy to learn

In many academic endeavors, a disproportionate amount of time is spent teaching students how to use the requisite tools instead of their practical application, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the field of GIS. Traditional GIS software can be burdensome and overly complicated, especially for students for whom GIS is not a primary field of study but a peripheral component of their chosen subject. Global Mapper’s development philosophy is based on the fundamental tenet that spatial technology should be accessible to all. Its intuitive layout and straightforward data processing tools ensure that the learning curve is a gentle one. 


  1. Generous licensing options

For accredited institutes of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, Global Mapper and the accompanying Lidar Module are available for classroom teaching and lab work at no cost. Universities and colleges throughout the rest of the world can install the software for a fraction of its normal cost. For a small software development company, this is a significant financial outlay but one that is ultimately a strategic investment. Graduates whose knowledge and skills encompass a broad spectrum of geospatial technology are more apt to provide effective leadership in the GIS industry over the coming decades, which is a boon for software companies such as Blue Marble Geographics.


  1. Complementary teaching resources

To help overburdened teachers with the implementation of Global Mapper in the classroom and to provide a concise and easy-to-follow introduction to the basic principles of GIS, Blue Marble’s application specialists have developed a series of academic labs. These hands-on exercises, which include detailed instructions and the corresponding data files, cover a broad swath of GIS functionality from generating a DTM from lidar to extracting vector features from imagery, and are available to all universities and colleges at no cost. In addition to step-by-step instructions, each of the labs provides an opportunity for students to apply the skills learned in the lab in a self-driven, problem-solving exercise.


  1. Scholarship award for a deserving student

Each year, Blue Marble offers a financial reward to a student who has demonstrated a high level of proficiency in the use of Global Mapper. Previous winning entries have included a 3D study of coastal geomorphology along the Gulf of Mexico, a mining research project in England, and a topographic analysis for a planned hydroelectric development in Rwanda. The official announcement of the 2021-2022 school year scholarship will be made later in the year, but in the meantime, you can entice your students to demonstrate their geospatial acumen with the incentive of a potential financial award.


If you are still not convinced that you should be using Global Mapper in the classroom and you have a little time to spare in August, Blue Marble will be hosting a month-long series of events to showcase the company’s academic programs. The Academic Month schedule will include an interactive webinar featuring students and teachers sharing their experience using the software, a free introductory three-hour workshop for teachers, a geographic contest for students, and much more. 


For more information and to register for the Academic Month events, visit the academic programs website

If you would like to participate in the program by sharing your Global Mapper teaching and learning experiences with other academics, email academiclicensing@bluemarblegeo.com.

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