Thursday, June 25, 2015

GIS Online Student Spotlight - David Schroeder

Congratulations to David Schroeder on being named GIS Online Student Spotlight for his outstanding work in Applications in GIS (GIS 4048).  

David hails from Temecula, CA, where he works in the public finance field working closely with municipalities and other government entities.  He is a busy family guy with a wife, two kids, and two dogs.  When not producing high-quality GIS deliverables, you can find David watching sports, spending time outdoors, or searching for the best stout beer in town.  Welcome to the spotlight David!  Have a beer to celebrate!  To follow David's work throughout the program, check out his blog at David Schroeder - GIS Blog. 

Module 5:  Crime Analysis

Instructor:  Penelope Mitchell

The Washington D.C. Crime Analysis lab kicked off the Homeland Security and Law Enforcement topic. Students utilized crime data from the DC Metropolitan Police Department to determine crime patterns in proximity to police stations and to identify underserved area(s) potentially in need of a police substation to curb crime. Additionally students utilized density analysis to locate hot spots of certain crimes.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Establish workspace environments
  • Analyze data stored in a Microsoft Excel Database
  • Create data using the Display XY tool
  • Create an address locator using street data
  • Geocode tabular address data to point features
  • Explore the Marker Symbol Options
  • Prepare data for processing in a geodatabase including, but not limited to, proper nomenclature
  • Use Field Calculator to calculate attribute table values
  • Perform multiple ring buffers and create spatial joins in the attribute tables
  • Utilize Swipe Tool to allow crime cluster distributions to be displayed over census block data
  • Create Multiple data frame maps to show various crime distributions
  • Use Kernel Density to display crime clusters
  • Compile and present results for real world problem solving

David’s crime analysis map stood out as a spotlight for it’s crisp and clear presentation and the ease to which it communicates results. The range graded police symbols are classified and symbolized for quick data acquisition--it is clear at a glance which police stations handle the most crime. The added subtext on the map provides useful information such as an overview of DC crime patterns, the location of the proposed substation and why. The crime graphs easily and aesthetically communicate the crime dynamics of city. Excellent work David!

Next week, we will spotlight a student from GIS 5100 - Application in GIS taught by Dr. Paul Zandbergen. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

GIS Online Student Spotlight - Michael Dumais

Congratulations to Michael Dumais on being named Student Spotlight for his outstanding work in GIS Programming (GIS 4102).  


Michael is an great example of the working professional and non-traditional student enrolled in the GIS Online Certificate Program. Mike Dumais is a Senior Programmer Analyst with Collier County, Florida, where he helps to manage the county's spatial data. To follow Michael’s work throughout the program, check out his blog at Mike's GeoTreks Blog

Welcome Mike and congratulations on being named the first GIS Programming spotlight of 2015!  I say it each week, but that spotlight is so bright and hot.  You might want to rethink that fur hat!  Keep up the great work!


Module 4: Debugging & Error Handling

Instructor: John Derek Morgan, PhD, GISP

In this Debugging Module, students practiced correcting errors in Python scripts and learned ways to identify what the errors were. Students were given three script templates containing errors. In the first two, they utilized the debugger and other methods to correct the errors. In the last script, they practiced adding a try-except statement, which will identify errors and let the script continue to run without crashing.

Student Learning Outcomes:
  •  Recognize syntax errors and exceptions
  •  Use debugging
  •  Review the content of error messages
  •  Add print statements to scripts
  •  Selectively comment out code
  •  Use a Python debugger
  •  Handle and raise exceptions
  •  Handle geoprocessing exceptions and other error- handling methods
  • Watch for common errors

Mike was able to identify all the errors in the scripts and successfully implement a try-except statement. Additionally, he has been a strong presence on the discussion board, helping other students work through their own errors. Mikes blog post illustrates both his lessons-learned and creativity that makes for an interesting read. Way to kick off the semester Mike!

Next week, we will spotlight a student from GIS 4800 - Applications in GIS taught by Penelope Mitchell. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

GIS Online Student Spotlight - Kasey Helms

Congratulations to Kasey Helms on being named Student Spotlight for her outstanding work in Applications in GIS/GIS 5100.  


Kasey is enrolled in the Graduate Certificate Program.  She recently finished eight years in the Navy, serving the last year in Bahrain.  While overseas, Kasey earned her BS in Environmental Studies and worked as an analyst.  During this job, she was first introduced to power of GIS.  Kasey enrolled in GIS Online Program because he hopes to transition into a civilian job in the GIS or analyst field.  Kasey currently lives in Southern California with her two water-loving dogs.

Thank you for your service Kasey and welcome to the spotlight.  It can get pretty hot in here.  Let's hope the year in Bahrain helped prepare you for the heat!  To follow Kasey's work throughout the program, check out her blog at Kasey's GIS Adventure

Module 1:  Suitability Analysis

Instructor:  Dr. Paul Zandbergen

Suitability Analysis, sometimes referred to as a multi-criteria decision making, is a “classic example” of GIS that was developed in the early days of the technology. Students were introduced to different types of suitability analysis and the typical workflows used to implement suitability analysis. In this module, students practiced a couple of different suitability models in both vector and raster.

Student Learning Outcomes:
  • Perform suitability analysis using both vector and raster analysis tool
  • Prepare data for use in suitability analysis
  • Compare different approaches to suitability analysis, including Boolean and scoring
  • Compare vector and raster tools to complete specific steps in suitability analysis
  • Adjust specific parameters employed in suitability analysis, such as scoring and weighting

For the final map deliverable, students ran the weighted overlay tool twice, comparing an Equal-weight scenario with an Alternative scenario. Kasey did an excellent job with not only her analysis, but final cartographic submission. Her symbology choice effectively communicates areas which are most suitable from first glance. Also instead of leaving the tabulated areas from each scenario buried in the process summary; she decided to include this table on the final map document thus associating a quantified area with each color swatch in the legend. Kasey’s final submission is an excellent example of when good analysis meets great design, awesome work Kasey!!

Next week, we will spotlight a student from GIS 4102 - GIS Programming taught by Dr. Derick Morgan. 

Mid-MOOC Progress Report and Spotlights

It is hard to believe that we are half-way through UWF’s first MOOC! The response has been overwhelming and we have you to thank! To date, we have over 3200 students registered and have awarded over 1132 badges. According to a recent mid-course survey, student experiences and feedback is exceedingly positive!

We have contacted several of our students and with their permission, highlighted them below.  We greatly appreciate all the kind words.  If you are enrolled in the MOOC and want to share your experiences, please contact me (Leah) at

I am excited to see what the remaining of the course brings in terms of student interaction and growth.  If you have yet to register - there is still time to join the MOOC movement. Click to get started!


Dr. Joseph Kerski, GISP, Esri Education Manager -- "Rigorous.  Good balance of theory and practice.  Thank you!"

Megan B. Government Cartographer --   I really wanted to let you know how impressed I am with the class. One of my duties at work has been to train staff in various GIS platforms. Since I work in a production environment I am always looking for better ways to teach as I often times have a very wide range of skills throughout my classes. Your class has given me new ideas and ways on making my materials better. The power points are perfect, not too much information to overload the students with and they are direct and to the point. The labs are definitely my favorite, from content to layout and graphics, these exercises are just perfect for new comers. It is challenging finding free GIS classes that are structured and taught well and I am truly thankful that I found your class. I hope in the future UWF may think of having some more advanced classes in GIS.

Ian Krauss, Government Research Assistant -- “I regretfully did not take any GIS courses while I was in college and now use GIS at work. I began teaching myself simple tasks through different tutorials but none of them were comprehensive enough to develop my skills where I felt confident in them. The MOOC via the University of West Florida has done a great job so far of teaching me the terminology and basic skills that many other free tutorials do not offer.”

Kirk C.-- "A great way to keep apprised of the current environment within the GIS world and how it applies to my field."

Elizabeth C., University of North Carolina Wilmington -- "I am learning how to make maps. In addition, it has been helping me make critical decision making processes, and become more confident in my abilities."  (photo coming soon)

Mike P. -- I've been out of GIS for a very long time. This course has helped re-familiarize myself with core concepts."
Zachary Shrader -- “The course has been extremely helpful, as I have been able to implement many of the course concepts directly into the projects I have been assigned at my job. My current job is cartography-heavy, so the first two labs were particularly useful in helping me to remember things that I had previously learned.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

GIS Online Student Spotlight - Brandon Duesenberry

Congratulations to Brandon Duesenberry on being named GIS Online Student Spotlight for his outstanding work in Applications in GIS (GIS 4048).  

Brandon is a shining example of a non-traditional GIS Online student.  Brandon is a member of the United States Air Force and was deployed to Afghanistan for the entire spring semester.  He has recently returned to the Gulf Coast and when not excelling in GIS or at work as a Full Motion Video (FMV sensor operator), he is spending quality time with his wife and two small boys.  Brandon, we thank you for your service and are excited to have you back in Florida.  To follow Brandon's work throughout the program, check out his blog at Brando's GIS Odyessy

Module 2:  Natural Hazards - Lahars 

Instructor:  Penelope Mitchell

The first GIS application investigated in GIS4048 is Natural Hazard planning and mitigation. For the lahars lab, students utilized DEMs and the Hydrology toolset found within the Spatial Analyst extension to determine potential drainage flow around Mt.Hood in a potential volcanic event. After streambeds were determined, students overlaid census data to determine the at risk population. Lastly, the data was compiled as a cartographically polished map to effectively communicate the information.

Student Learning Outcomes:
  • Define Default Geodatabase
  • Create data using the Go to XY tool and Convert Graphics Feature
  • Explore Spatial Analyst (SA) extension
  • Prepare data for processing in a geodatabase including, but not limited to, proper nomenclature.
  • Perform a raster mosaic using ArcToolbox
  • Conduct analysis using the Hydrology Toolset in the SA extension
  • Identify potential inundation areas during a lahar event
  • Identify Census Block Groups
  • Perform location analysis based on distance
  • Identify population areas using attribute table data
  • Assess hazard areas using Select by Location and buffer tools
  • Create multiple deliverables based on findings

Mt. Hood, Oregon.  Photo obtained from NASA, 8/5/2009.
Brandon correctly completed the DEM analysis to generate streams and adjacent low lying hazardous areas. Although the analysis workflow was tricky, presenting the information was equally as difficult. Brandon did an excellent job differentiating map elements and information to allow for quick data acquisition and interpretation. The different label styles are simple, but very effective at communicating different features. The schools and associated numeric key is very useful and prevents the map from being overcrowded with labels. The background DEM symbology and associated legend item is very effective at communicating map topology thus facilitating the user's’ understanding of potential hazard. Way to kick off the semester Brandon!

Next week, we will spotlight a student from GIS 5100 - Application in GIS taught by Dr. Paul Zandbergen.