August 24, 2021

Global Mapper in the Classroom – Teachers Share Their Experiences

Written by: David McKittrick

 

At the time of writing, Blue Marble’s Academic Month is well underway. We began the proceedings a couple of weeks ago with an interesting and enjoyable webinar, during which we heard from a number of teachers and students about how they are using Global Mapper for their teaching and research projects. I am continually amazed when I hear about the creative and innovative ways in which the software is being applied in academia, not only for instruction but also for community outreach and engagement. It is gratifying to know that Global Mapper is playing a significant role in the work of mitigating environmental and social issues, and that many of these efforts are being spearheaded by students. More about this below.

Hot on the heels of the webinar, the Blue Marble training team hosted a three-hour workshop for faculty (and a few gate-crashing students). This free hands-on session had the dual purpose of providing some insights on how to teach the principles of GIS using Global Mapper, while simultaneously introducing the revamped Global Mapper Academic Curriculum materials to the teachers and course designers in attendance. Judging by the follow-up reaction, it was a job well done on both scores. 

The aforementioned materials, which are comprised of 12 individual labs, each of which introduces a specific aspect of geospatial data processing and analysis, are available free of charge to all universities and colleges. The package includes detailed written instructions complete with screenshots, as well as all of the required data files. Click here to request a copy of the lab materials for your classes. 

Another noteworthy Academic Month activity is a student edition of the Where in the World Geo-Challenge; a geography quiz for anyone enrolled in a school or college (sorry teachers, this is just for students). The premise is simple: Identify all of the locations or geographic features represented in the satellite images and your name will be entered for a chance to win a copy of Global Mapper Pro, scheduled for release later next month. Judging by the early entrants, today’s students seem to be geographically proficient.

Speaking of Global Mapper Pro, it was recently announced that, as well as the usual $500 award, the winner of the Blue Marble Academic Scholarship will be receiving a copy of this new, more powerful version of the software. Teachers, as you return to class in a couple of weeks, please remind your students to submit a project report, thesis, poster, or any academic endeavor using Global Mapper, and they could be selected as the winner. The deadline is still a few months away but it might serve as an incentive for your students to work a little harder on their term paper.

As mentioned above, the kick-off to the academic month was a webinar featuring educators from a variety of academic settings sharing their experiences with Global Mapper. In case you missed the live event, here is a summary of their work.

Dr. Tora Johnson, Director of the Geographic Information Systems Laboratory at the University of Maine at Machias, used her presentation to introduce the various courses and classes at the university that make use of Global Mapper. She also cited the usefulness of the Global Mapper curriculum materials, not only for her students, but also for the teaching staff as they expand their knowledge about the capabilities of the software. A major portion of Dr. Johnson’s presentation highlighted several projects that her students have worked on within the local community, addressing such issues as coastal inundation and dam removal. 

Kelsi Schwind, a doctoral student pursuing her degree in Coastal and Marine System Sciences at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and a past recipient of the Global Mapper Scholarship, showed the use of Global Mapper in academia from a different perspective. Her fascinating presentation summarized her research on the impact of Hurricane Michael on the coastal dunes along the panhandle of Florida. Using a variety of Global Mapper’s 3D analysis techniques, she was able to model and measure the effects of the storm on the dune morphology along the barrier islands. During her presentation, Kelsi repeatedly cited how Global Mapper was an essential tool in her work.

Moving back into the classroom, our third presenter was Richard Friedman, adjunct instructor for the Geographic Information Science and Technology Program at San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico. During the introduction to his presentation, Richard echoed a common refrain heard from numerous teachers: ‘Global Mapper is ideal for students because it is easy to learn’. Of particular interest was his account of how his students use Global Mapper’s Pixels to Points tool for drone image analysis and for managing and processing the resulting 3D point cloud.

For our final presentation, we heard from an instructor who works in a unique teaching environment. Santiago Medina, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and former Infantry Officer in the Argentine Army, is currently a mountain guide and teacher. In his classes, he introduces his students to the art and science of creating high-quality topographic maps using DEM data in Global Mapper. With a dearth of up-to-date maps covering the Andes, this teaching program has allowed his students to confidently venture into previously uncharted terrain.

One of the common threads cited by each of our presenters is that Global Mapper is ideally suited for GIS education; whether in a teaching/learning setting, or for advanced research. If you want to find out if it will fit into your curriculum, visit the Blue Marble Academic Programs web page for more information or to request a license. 

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