Virtual Campus GIS Teaching Resources Author: Milton Ospina ESRI, 380 New York Street Redlands, CA USA

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1 Virtual Campus GIS Teaching Resources Author: Milton Ospina ESRI, 38 New York Street Redlands, CA USA June 22 Abstract One of the primary goals of the Virtual Campus is to provide geographic information system (GIS) teaching resources to the large number of colleges and universities that offer GIS degree programs, GIS certificate programs, and to the numerous academic disciplines that are utilizing GIS technology and geographic information science (GIScience) in their respective programs. ESRI Virtual Campus courses are especially useful for academic institutions that seek to provide accessibility, convenience, timeliness, and the ability for students to control their own educational experience in a dynamic learning environment. Colleges and universities can leverage their existing GIS programs by complementing or enhancing their current courses with Web-based course content from the Virtual Campus. Keywords Online GIS education and training, teaching resources, online textbook model and content provider. Introduction The ESRI Virtual Campus has been in operation since Initially conceived and developed as complementary training to the ESRI Instructor-Led Training (ILT), it joined ESRI Press formally established in 1996 in providing users a variety of learning methods to satisfy the ever-growing demand for GIS training and education. Today, the Virtual Campus has evolved into an online GIS training and education establishment in its own right. As GIS software became more affordable and more companies, agencies, and academic institutions were able to get access to desktop GIS systems, traditional teaching methods could not meet the increased demand for GIS training and education. The Virtual Campus seized this opportunity to provide GIS software training at affordable prices to train users in its core technology. Immediately following, the Virtual Campus began to provide online courses in the GIS applications most requested by our users. Finally, the campus sought to provide basic GIScience education courses. ESRI enlisted the support of wellrespected academics who formed the Academic Advisory Group and developed a Virtual Campus GIScience Curriculum for which ESRI intended to develop course content in support of colleges and universities. The Virtual Campus as a Web-based content provider The ESRI Virtual Campus offers self-paced GIS courses online. Offerings include Web courses covering topics related to GIScience, GIS applications, and ESRI GIS technology. GIScience courses cover spatial thinking, geographic analysis, and decision-making methods and theory. GIS application courses teach how

2 GIS can be used to solve real problems in specific industries (e.g., health, business, government, and natural resources); GIS technology courses teach ESRI software skills. Coupled with ESRI's in-depth classroom training, ESRI Press titles, and affordable software pricing programs available to institutions of higher education, the Virtual Campus enables colleges and universities to offer robust, affordable GIS education and training to their students. Universities, colleges, and research institutes can use ESRI Virtual Campus content to augment their own GIS content and curricula. Some institutions use the content as a way of jump-starting their own online GIS offerings, or as a way of obtaining a course offering advantage over other institutions of higher education. Courses consist of related modules (typically six), which contain related components. Each module takes approximately three to four hours to complete, and each course is approximately 2 24 hours in length. The components, (concepts, examples, exercises, and assessment tools) combine hands-on experience, interactivity, and instructional support to create a rich learning environment. In addition to its courses, the campus also features member-defined special interest campus clubs, which allow members to network, view live online seminars by authors and instructors, and browse a campus newsletter. Another extremely useful feature is the Virtual Campus Library. The library contains more than 18, GIS references and provides access to online GIS research resources including a GIS bibliography, an Undergraduate Research Guide, numerous GIS conference proceedings, and technical papers. No purchase is required to access the Virtual Campus library. Virtual Campus GIS teaching resources and partnership examples Since its inception, the campus has been open to be used as members see fit. The campus was meant originally to serve the large number of professionals doing GIS work who had no formal training in GIS. But in fact, it was educators and students who more enthusiastically adopted the campus. The ease-of-use, quality instructional design, self-paced format, around-the-clock availability, and affordability were attractive features that academics thought could benefit their own GIS programs. Academics today represent 1 percent of all campus members (approximately 14,). If you add to this group all those identifying themselves as part of the elementary/secondary and library/museum sectors, the number jumps to approximately 17, education members around the globe. It is no coincidence that university professors have authored the great majority of GIS applications and GIScience courses on the campus. Two early adopters of the campus were University of California, Riverside, and UNIGIS, Salzburg. Both of these institutions were aggressive in their own areas of interest. UC Riverside has made a name for itself in the GIS certificate programs area, and UNIGIS is a leader in GIS distance education. Both sought the campus as a way of enhancing their existing programs and also as a means of developing new student markets through online programs. Students successfully completing certain Virtual Campus courses were granted continuing education units (CEUs) toward their GIS certificate programs at UCR and toward a masters in Advanced Studies in GIS at UNIGIS. Others soon followed. The University of Southern California made some of the Virtual Campus courses an integrated component of its GIS Distance Learning program. At the University of Idaho, for example, students can take a Virtual Campus course in lieu of the university's A GIS Primer course. Others are also resourceful in the way they use the campus content by using its online courses to supplement program, class, or GIS lab content (e.g., Virginia Tech, Iowa Lakes Community College, Purdue University). Institutions sometimes choose to use the Virtual Campus courses to teach GIS software, allowing the faculty to concentrate on teaching GIS theory and concepts (e.g., Curtin University, University of Iceland). Aalborg University took this concept even further by localizing Virtual Campus courses. Aalborg University replaced the campus course data with local Danish geospatial data. Students, given a choice to use either the U.S.- centric data or their respective localized Danish data, chose the latter.

3 The campus course content can also serve as reference textbooks for use on GIS-related courses. For instance, North Carolina State University promotes access to the Virtual Campus via its NCSU Libraries GIS Services. The textbook model is one usage model ESRI particularly likes to promote because it encourages the use of campus courses as online textbooks or reference materials. Under this model, both distance learning students and those attending classes on campus can access course content at any time as they would printed textbooks. One institution that has been particularly assertive in finding ways of using the Virtual Campus content, authoring courses, and developing innovative business models has been the Penn State World Campus. In the latest partnership, Penn State is developing custom campus courses that are supported by instructors from Penn State University's Department of Geography. These courses are combining distance education with the instructional model where students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in what they learned in earlier modules as they progress through the course. Each course module contains a project that students complete, then they send a graphic and written description of their results to the supporting instructor at Penn State for evaluation, review, and feedback. Students can access the instructor anytime from the course communicating via a message board on the Penn State World Campus. Notably, Penn State World Campus is developing two courses. The first, Penn State Edition: Learning ArcGIS I uses enhanced ESRI content, but the second, Penn State Edition: Cartographic Design uses Penn State content exclusively. Both courses are available to all Virtual Campus users and both courses provide CEUs from Penn State University. The University of Montana Earth Observing System (EOS) Education Project utilizes Web-based technologies and education in combination with the Virtual Campus content to teach students how to interpret and utilize geospatial information. EOS uses a combination of GIS educational, instructor-assisted resources in combination with other e-learning technologies. For example, EOS uses ecollege to provide students with an educational portal where they can communicate with other students as well as their instructor, access course files and study notes, obtain their grades, and access other GIS internet resources. Other e-learning portals like WebCT and Blackboard offer a convenient way of accessing Virtual Campus content. Furthermore, the Virtual Campus has made a concerted effort to provide not just course content but also other GIS teaching resources that are interactive and that contribute to supporting a rich learning and instructional environment. The Virtual Campus now offers live training seminars and Web workshops designed for those who want focused training on a specific GIS software skill or method. The live training seminars are free and include a 4 5 minute presentation and an interactive question and answers session and have a predefined scheduled start and stop time. Web workshops are the recorded version of these live training seminars, and they are available for purchase by students. The Web workshops include a recorded presentation of a live training seminar, questions and answers excerpt, exercises, exam, and workshop certificate. Another GIS academic resource was developed earlier this year called the Undergraduate Research Guide. The Undergraduate Research Guide is a brief, friendly, online introduction to the research process, written by the Virtual Campus librarian. The guide helps students form a plan for their research, taking them through the steps of choosing a topic, finding good references, and locating materials. It outlines strategies for narrowing down broad topics using appropriate keywords and finding authoritative sources by subject experts. Designed for the typical undergraduate paper assignment, the guide touches on some ways to use the advanced search capabilities of the Virtual Campus Library to find the materials needed. The Undergraduate Research Guide is located on the Virtual Campus Library at In summary, the campus content can be used as online textbooks or lab manuals in regular classes, as prerequisites to more advanced studies, as complementary and/or supplementary content materials to existing GIS-related courses and programs, and as credit-earning components of degree and certificate programs.

4 Facts and Figures On June 7, 22, the Virtual Campus membership was 144, members from 18 countries. Virtual Campus Membership 16, 14, 12, 1, 8, 6, 4, 2, July 1998 Nov June - 2 May 21 June - 21 Members Number of Countries Represented at the Virtual campus Countries July 1998 Nov June - 2 May 21 June - 21

5 Of the membership, 17,231 identify themselves as education members (higher education, elementary/secondary schools, and libraries/museums). Education Members Higher Education Elelementary/Secondary Libraries/Museums Campus members represent 18 countries and account for 36 percent of the campus membership (7 percent Canada, 2 percent UK, 2 percent Australia, 2 percent India). % of Members Outside the United States July 1998 Nov June - 2 May 21 June - 21 % outside US The Virtual campus provides ArcView GIS software. Total software downloads per year. (ArcView 3.1)

6 Software Download # of downloads Year ArcView 3.1 3D Analyst Spatial Analyst Network Analyst Conclusions The campus will continue to provide mechanisms for innovative collaborative projects with institutions of higher education, and it will continue to look for cutting-edge delivery methods that benefit different types of learners. The campus has found a niche in acting as a course content provider to colleges and universities and also as an affordable GIS training venue to government, private, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. The Virtual Campus is committed to continual enhancement of its GIS e-learning delivery tools and exploring new ideas, technologies, and educational partnerships that help address the demand for GIS training and education. The challenge for educational institutions is in identifying and adapting the campus GIS teaching resources in a manner that is appropriate for meeting their educational needs. References "Academic Programs Make Good Use of ESRI Virtual Campus." (2, Summer). ArcNews, 22 (2), 36. Article also found on ESRI Web site: "Annual School Technology Report." (22, May). Retrieved June 12, 22, from Education Week Web site: ESRI. (22). ESRI Learning Guide. Retrieved June 15, 22, from ESRI Education and Training Web site: ESRI. (1999). ESRI Virtual Campus [Brochure]. Redlands, CA. ESRI. (1999). GIS Education Solutions from ESRI [Brochure]. Redlands, CA. ESRI. (22). "Organizations using Virtual Campus courses." Retrieved June 18, 22, from ESRI Virtual Campus Web site:

7 ESRI. ( ). Virtual Campus Summary Report [Internal report]. Redlands, CA. Kloster Staunstrup, J., and T. Hedegaar (1998). "The Use Of Local Data In Esri Virtual Campus." 13th European ESRI User Conference. 7 9 October Florence, Italy. National Governors Association (21, June). The State of E-Learning in the States. Retrieved June 1, 22, from Web site: Wright, D., and D. DiBiase. Distance Education in GIScience, a UCGIS Education White Paper. December 22.

8 Appendix I Benefits of the Virtual Campus A. Self-paced course Web-based courses can be taken at any time and from anywhere, whether it's from home, office, or school. Once students are enrolled they can come back to it anytime and from any computer connected to the Internet. Graduates from the campus are welcome to come back anytime for a refresher. Courses do not expire. B. Earn an ESRI Certificate of completion Those who score 75 percent or higher on the exam will receive an ESRI certificate of completion (displayed on screen, printed by student). C. No deadlines There is no time limit on these courses. On average, each module takes approximately three to four hours to complete. A six-module course takes approximately 2 24 hours to complete. Students can choose their own time and speed to do the course. D. Free ESRI Software Download Some courses include downloadable, 12-day editions of ArcView 3.x software. This software is not available to students enrolled in the free modules. The student version of ArcView will operate for 12 days from the date of installment. Once the trial period is over, the software cannot be extended or reinstalled. For courses using ArcView 8 technology, a CD including ArcView 8.1 with extensions (3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst, and Geostatistical Analyst) can be requested. Faculty, staff, and students at qualifying educational institutions, libraries, and museums can request a 18-day software trial during purchase, and other users can request a 6-day ArcView CD from Marketing. E. First Module is Free Most campus courses offer a free introductory module. While learning GIS software applications and concepts for free, you can assess the course content to see if it fits your needs before deciding on purchasing the module. In fact, the free modules are the most popular modules in the entire campus. Furthermore, students, faculty, and staff of educational institutions receive a 4 percent discount on course purchases, and all campuswide site licenses get unlimited access to all ESRI-authored online courses. F. Student interaction Get to know people from around the world. Students to the campus have access to all facilities including clubs, library, and member directory. G. Save money One of the most inexpensive ways to learn. ESRI Virtual Campus is one alternative to traditional learning. The Virtual Campus offers a 4 percent educational discount to qualified educational institutions and a volume discount, which begins at 5 percent with the purchase of five or more course seats. H. Online support Students can contact campus support at when running into problems. Questions will be responded to in the order they are received. Support personnel are available to answer student questions. I. Subscriptions: ESRI Virtual Campus subscriptions allow you to prepurchase a group of courses at a reduced price and provide them for one year to people in your organization. You can select ESRIauthored course subscriptions or subscriptions that include all Virtual Campus courses including those authored by academic and industry specialists. To support academic institutions, the campus offers at educational pricing an educator subscription, which includes all the courses on the Virtual Campus.

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