The Global Mapper Academic Curriculum – Free GIS Teaching Materials
Late in the summer of 2013, Blue Marble invited several faculty members from various campuses of the University of Maine system to a meeting at the company’s headquarters. The purpose of this gathering was to garner input and advice that would help the company formulate a strategy for effectively introducing Global Mapper to the academic community.
At the time, Global Mapper was undergoing a rapid expansion of its worldwide user-base, thanks in large part to its recent acquisition by Blue Marble. Inevitably, universities and colleges were being introduced to the capabilities of the software and its suitability for teaching the basics of GIS to students. At that time, however, there were no resources or teaching materials available, and an academic licensing system had not yet been established.
The meeting ended with two items on Blue Marble’s to-do list: The software deployment process had to be streamlined and simplified to provide teachers and students with on-demand access to the software, unencumbered by burdensome licensing requirements, and, more importantly in the eyes of the teachers in the room, learning materials needed to be developed to help teachers incorporate the software into their curricula.
Within weeks of the meeting, Blue Marble announced that any accredited institute of higher education in the US or Canada would be eligible to use Global Mapper for teaching at no cost. Deeply discounted licensing was also introduced for schools and colleges throughout the world. Concurrently, work began on the Global Mapper Curriculum; a series of instructional labs that explore the software’s principal features and functions, while providing students with a concise and easy-to-follow introduction to the fundamentals of GIS.
Initially, there were six labs covering some of the common analytical procedures in Global Mapper. Over the years, as new tools were added to the software, additional labs were developed. At the time of writing, the finishing touches are being applied to Lab 12, which focuses on the process of modifying the terrain through hydro-flattening and terrain painting.
Each lab includes detailed written instructions on how to perform the prescribed procedure or operation, along with the requisite data files. At the conclusion of the scripted section of each lab, students are given an opportunity to employ their newly-acquired skills and knowledge in a problem-solving exercise. To assist in the teaching and assessment process, completed versions of these exercises are included in the package.
The following is the current list of labs along with the specific workflows that are included in each:
Lab 1 – Introduction to the principles of GIS
Lab 2 – Generating a terrain surface and creating contours using lidar data
Lab 3 – Working with attributes and creating a thematic map
Lab 4 – Rectifying an image file
Lab 5 – Extracting vector features from a raster layer
Lab 6 – Creating a watershed model
Lab 7 – Lidar classification and extraction
Lab 8 – Raster calculation
Lab 9 – Creating a point cloud using the Pixels to Points® tool
Lab 10 – Suitability analysis for a solar power project
Lab 11 – Change detection using point cloud data
Lab 12 – Hydro-flattening and terrain painting
The Global Mapper Academic Curriculum materials are available to any educational institution by request and are free of charge. Participants are encouraged to provide feedback to help ensure that the lab contents are meeting the needs of teachers and students.
For more information on Blue Marble’s academic initiatives or to request a copy of the Global Mapper Academic Curriculum materials, visit the academic programs website.