Monday, January 27, 2014

Cartography Student Spotlight

GIS3015 Cartographic Skills, Instructor, Mrs. Penelope Bishop Mitchell

Map Critique

Lab description - In this lab students were required to apply the map design principles learned in the lecture to identify and critique examples of good and bad maps.  

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Review common map design principles
  • Identify examples of good and bad map design
  • Compare, contrast, and summarize key elements of good and poor map design


    The following students were chosen for their exception work on the Map Critique assignment:

    Gail Sease

    About Gail: Gail lives in Bakersfield, CA has earned BS and MS degrees in geology but has not worked as a geologist for a long time.   Her occupations over the last 20 years have included oil company geologist, junior college geology instructor, Spanish student, teacher of middle school and high school Spanish, biology and geology, school librarian and school secretary.  Before moving to Bakersfield in 2011, she lived with her family in Bogotá, Colombia and Tripoli, Libya for 8 years.  Gail would like to get back into the oil and gas or minerals industries and is seeking to bring her skills up to date.  GIS expertise is extremely valuable in these and many other fields.  Her sister is currently working on her internship at UWF's GIS Master's certification program and her experiences have convinced Gail that it will be an excellent opportunity. Congratulations Gail, and Welcome to the Spotlight!

    What we like: Gail was chosen as a spotlight as she applied lecture concepts and assignment directions to a T!  Not only were Gail’s map choices right on, but her critiques were well written and utilized the design principles to skillfully analyze her maps.  In addition to this, Gail’s blog post is exemplary.  She introduced the assignment in a clear, succinct, and professional manner; provided both map images and critiques; and has the post neatly labeled under Cartographic Skills so it can easily be found.  Well done Gail!!

    A Well-Designed Map of Easter Island
         This map of Easter Island is well designed because it satisfies several Tufteism principles of map design.  It follows Principles #1 , #2 and #3 in that it is a well-designed presentation of interesting data, and immediately shows us that most of the statues and ruins lie along the coast, and that there are at least two mountains on the island. In addition, the map and its legend efficiently draw the eye to the most prominent and well-known cultural features on Easter Island, those that visitors are most likely to want to visit.   The features (moai, petroglyphs, etc.) are clearly and simply represented by symbols that are easy to identify and remember, and they are also labeled on the map by name (Principles #7 and #8), as are the more general areas of the island.  The roads, tracks, and settled places, which the visitors will need to know about in order to access the sites, are clearly indicated.  The index map locating the map in the Pacific Ocean also contributes to the map’s effective presentation of information.   The map follows #4 in that the data is multivariate.  Not only does the map clarify various cultural features of Easter Island, it also is a topographic map done in an intuitive and attractive color scheme, so the visitors can get a good idea of the terrain.   The index map offers additional data dimension.  Finally, the map adheres to Principle #5 and tells the truth, in that it gives the visitor an accurate portrayal of what they can expect from the island, culturally, topographically, and geographically.
    A Poorly-Designed Map about Sit-Coms in the United States
         This map about sit-coms and the United States has several flaws in its design.  Two related Tufte principles that it does not follow are #7 and #8: it is ambiguous in that it does not explain the relationships between the T.V. shows in the lists and the parts of the country in which the lists are displayed.  We are left to wonder, for example, are these the favorite T.V. shows in different parts of the country?  Or, do the story lines of those shows takes place in those areas?  There are no explanatory notes. The map also violates Principle #7 when it assigns different colors to the states.  This scheme apparently has nothing to do with the data, but seems to have been done solely to add some variety to the design.  This color scheme thus also violates Tufteism #9 (show data variation, not design variation) and #11 (two dimensions, regions of the country and color of state, exceed or do not correspond to the single dimension of the data, which (we assume, but don’t know for sure) is T.V. show setting.

    Laura Simpkins

    About Laura: Laura lives in Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia with her husband and 2 kitties. She has an undergraduate degree in environmental science from University of Mary Washington in Virgina. Laura has interned with the park service at Grand Canyon NP and worked for the WV dept. of environmental protection in watershed management. Currently she is an environmental educator at a children's museum. She loves working with kids, but is ready for a new adventure. Laura joined this GIS program to gain some technical skills to help her set out on a new path hopefully in environmental resource management. She is intested in native plants, wetlands, rivers, streams, creeks, cricks, and playing in the woods. Welcome to the Spotlight, Laura!

    What we like: I loved Laura’s post as she chose very current and relevant maps for her examples.  As she is right in the middle of this environmental disaster in West Virginia, she is privy to the maps created in effort to explain to the masses if their water is safe?  I agree with the twitter post in regard to the bad map! :)  Thanks for sharing Laura!

    MAP 1: Poorly Designed
    This poorly designed map was the first to be released by West Virginia American Water via twitter just hours after an announced water advisory following a chemical spill in the region. As concerned citizens searched for answers about the safety of their drinking water, they were confronted with this unclear, underlabeled, cluttered map with undefined symbols and extraneous lines. This falls well short of Tufte’s principles 2, 7, 8, 15 and 18 that call for clarity, thorough labeling and removing the junk. The author of this map did not follow British Cartographic Society’s 1st principle of cartographic design to consider the concept before compilation. This map appears quickly compiled with only the little thought it took to circle an area with red marker, leaving West Virginians to confusion and panic rather than answers.
    Side Note: I think Twitter user Istep hit the nail on the head with his response to this poorly designed map, "@KCCDHSEM just what we need an etch a sketch drawing."
    Map 2: Well Designed
    After American Water had a few days to figure things out, they produced a useful map tool to address the status of our drinking water. This well designed map has a clear purpose and shares information people are demanding to know, meeting map design Commandment 1 to Map Substantial Information. It has a simple layout, with minimal clutter as Commandment 4 states, accomplished by putting the text details on a separate tab, and including an address search tool to view additional details relevant to individual customers. It follows the British Cartographic Societies 5th principle of cartographic design by engaging the frantic emotions of West Virginia water users and offers reassurance as they check back and see their region move from unsafe red to safe* blue. Although, as the asterisk next to “safe” indicates this may just be scientists best guess, only time will tell if this map defies commandment 2: Don’t Lie with Maps

    Tune in next week on the same bat channel for our spotlight on internship!

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    Geographic Information Systems Student Spotlight

    GIS4043 Geographic Information Systems, Instructor, Mrs. Amber Bloechle

    ArcGIS Overview

    In this lab students:
    - Located and launched ArcGIS/ArcMap
    - Reviewed the individual file components of a shapefile (DBF, SHP, SHX and others)
    - Added data to an ArcMap session
    - Located and used various tools commonly used in ArcMap
    - Created a selection from the attribute table
    - Navigated ArcHelp (online version)
    - Searched for tools in the ArcMap search window
    - Found definitions for commonly used GIS terms
    - Symbolized population data by quantity intervals
    - Constructed a basic map in ArcMap showing the population of various countries
    - Recognized the difference between the main tools toolbar and layout tools
      toolbars and know when it's appropriate to use each
    - Recalled the difference between a MXD file (map document) and map files
    - Exported map images to JPG format in ArcGIS/ArcMap Complete a process    
      summary (used for all course labs) utilizing the provided template
    - Submitted final deliverables to appropriate eLearning dropbox and to personal    
    - Archived assignment data and deliverables to H drive or personal machine  

    Student Learning Outcomes:

    • Locate and launch ArcGIS/ArcMap 
    • Review the individual file components of a shapefile (DBF, SHP, SHX and others) 
    • Add data to an ArcMap session 
    • Locate and use various tools commonly used in ArcMap 
    • Create a selection from the attribute table 
    • Navigate ArcHelp (online version) 
    • Search for tools in the ArcMap search window 
    • Find definitions for commonly used GIS terms 
    • Symbolize population data by quantity intervals 
    • Construct a basic map in ArcMap showing the population of various countries 
    • Recognize the difference between the main tools toolbar and layout tools toolbars and know when it's appropriate to use each 
    • Recall the difference between a MXD file (map document) and map files 
    • Export map images to JPG format in ArcGIS/ArcMap Complete a process summary (used for all course labs) utilizing the provided template 
    • Submit final deliverables to appropriate eLearning dropbox and to personal blog 
    • Archive assignment data and deliverables to H drive or personal machine 

                              STUDENT SPOTLIGHT AWARDS

                              The following student was chosen for their exception work on the ArcGIS Overview assignment:

                              Ty Evans

                              About Ty: Ty is nearing the completion of his second bachelor's degree, this one in archaeology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and he started looking for additional skills to complement what he has already learned.  Having read of the power of GIS in archaeology (and many other fields), Ty took three online GIS courses through Nevada community colleges.  While these were great introductions, Ty decided that he wanted to learn more in depth GIS.  After much research, he found the UWF Certificate program and believes the online UWF archaeology track is the best single program available (especially by offering an archaeology focus)!  His highest hope is to utilize the knowledge and experience gained from this program to begin a career in archaeology with the National Park Service or other government agency in the Southwest/Great Basin region. Welcome to the spotlight, Ty!

                              What we like: Ty was chosen for his exemplary attention to detail not only in his map deliverable but also in his Process Summary. Ty's map contains everything we were looking for and then some. We especially like his color choice, map element placement, map frame evenness, and that he went above and beyond by editing the labels in his legend. Ty also provided thorough answers and explanations in his Process Summary. You're off to a great start, Ty!

                              Come back next week for the first Student Spotlight from Cartography!

                              Tuesday, January 14, 2014

                              Internship Student Spotlight

                              GIS4944/5945, GIS Internship, Instructor, Mrs. Leah Lewis, GISP

                              GIS Internships - Let's get to work!

                              STUDENT SPOTLIGHT AWARDS

                              The following student was chosen to highlight their current GIS internship experience.  

                              Robyn Frelich

                              About Robyn: Robyn is an Urban Planner/GIS Analyst from around Tampa, FL and has happily been dabbling in GIS for several years. She works with her husband to provide GIS support to her unit, and uses GIS primarily for her job in transportation planning, making maps, and analyzing social economic data for future planning needs. What Robyn likes the most about GIS is how diverse it is and how many industries use it. It seems like no matter how familiar you are using it, you still find new things all the time. When asked if she considered herself to be more of a vector or a raster, she would have to consider herself a raster. Rasters seems pretty simple but can actually be pretty complicated. Each little piece means something, and has a value. Welcome to the Spotlight Robyn!

                              Check back next week for a new student spotlight!

                              Friday, January 10, 2014

                              Welcome 2014!


                              The journey for our 2014 group begins here! Find the latest student work from this semester's GIS4043 Geographic Information Systems, GIS3015 Cartographic Skills, and GIS4944/5945 GIS Internship courses. Return weekly to meet our distinguished students in the Student Spotlight series.  The purpose of this blog is to share useful resources, tips, and most importantly, to showcase students' work, innovation, and achievements.

                              Cheers! To a new year and the start of a new journey in GIS to you from us:

                              SHRUG Regional Conference, Tallahassee, FL
                               Brittney Markle, Deidra Krolikowski, Leah Lewis

                              What are Students Up to Now? 

                              The first few weeks of class ease students into ESRI ArcGIS 10.2 and Adobe Illustrator software to create visually pleasing, honest maps.  Expect to find some of the best maps made by beginners here and on their blogs! To find a particular student, look to the right-hand side of the page where students are listed alphabetically by last name.

                              What's New this Year?

                              We are pleased to announce that we now offer an Online GIS Masters degree!  The Graduate Certificate program serves as a pathway to the masters program by providing pre-requisite and core courses for the Masters of Science in Administration, Geographic Information Science specialization. To learn more, visit our website and expect to hear more in the coming months.

                              On student's personal blogs, expect to see more blog-like posts. That is, more details on the student's journey through this program and less details on specific steps taken to reach a final output.

                              There are two additions to our team who are too cute not to mention.  Please help us welcome our littlest assistants, Althea Mitchell (born 8/30/13 ) and Rain Bloechle (born 10/25/13).

                              Althea and Penelope Mitchell
                              Rain and Amber Bloechle

                              We'd also like to welcome our new Teaching Assistant, Pete Tereszkiewicz, and our new Technical Assistant, Deidra Krolikowski. Here are what they have to say about themselves.

                              Pete Tereszkiewicz

                              Hello, my name is Peter Tereszkiewicz, and I will be instructing Cartography Lab this upcoming spring semester. I grew up in Southeastern Alabama, and call this region home. Currently I am in my last semester of undergrad at the University of West Florida, pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies/Geography. Thus far my research interests have been closely tied to understanding the physical processes that govern the coastal environment. My senior thesis examines the influence varying wave energies have on sediment size and sorting along fixed geographic locations, along 20 miles of Gulf of Mexico coastline. I have been working with GIS for the past three years, and plan on using it in every facet of my academic pursuits. Besides coastal morphology, other research interests include: Paleoclimate Studies, Biogeography, Paleogeography, and benthic habitat mapping of Pensacola Bay. When not working in GIS, I have a number of activities to keep me busy. I am an avid outdoor enthusiast and love being where few have been before; climbing, caving, hiking, and camping enable me to get away. When I am not outside one can find me painting, home roasting, or home brewing. All of which are breaks from my full time job: research.

                              Deidra Krolikowski
                              Hello all! My name is Deidra Krolikowski, and I work in the office on various things for the program. You'll probably take most notice of me as the poster of the spotlight blog posts. I've been with Online GIS since September, but never got around to properly introducing myself. I have lived in the Pensacola are for most of my life, and consider this place home. I graduated the University of West Florida in December 2013 with my degree in Environmental Studies/Natural Science. I am going to finish my GIS Certificate this spring, and intend to become a graduate student at UWF in the fall. GIS wasn't something I fell in love with right away, but over the past year and a half, GIS has become something I do love to do. When not working or studying, you can find me curled up with a book, playing games, cooking, crocheting, or planning my next adventure.

                              A Note to Students: 

                              I'm excited to begin the year with a new group eager to learn GIS! As usual, we have a diverse group so, I look forward to learning about what brought you here, learning from your insight within our online community, and watching you progress through the journey towards earning your GIS Certificate.

                              Know that instructors and our staff of GIS gurus want you to succeed.  We are here to help with every concept, assignment, and related tangent along the way. We like to have fun too. The camaraderie built among classmates over a year of tackling weekly GIS projects is a benefit during the program and beyond.

                              Let's get to work!

                              Amber Bloechle