LOST IN THE CLOUD - NEW CHALLENGES FOR TEACHING GIS
Keywords: Cloud based GIS, open source, open data, teaching and learning
Abstract. As cloud based services move towards becoming the dominant paradigm in many areas of information technology, GIS has also moved into ‘the Cloud’, creating a new opportunities for professionals and students alike, while at the same time presenting a range of new challenges and opportunities for GIS educators. Learning for many students in the geospatial science disciplines has been based on desktop software for GIS, building their skills from basic data handling and manipulation to advanced spatial analysis and database storage. Cloud-based systems challenge this paradigm in many ways, with some of the skills being replaced by clever and capable software tools, while the ubiquitous nature of the computing environment offers access and processing from anywhere, on any device.
This paper describes our experiences over the past two years in developing and delivering a new course incorporating cloud based technologies for GIS and illustrates the many benefits and pitfalls of a cloud based approach to teaching. Throughout the course, students were encouraged to provide regular feedback on the course through the use of online journals. This allowed students to critique the approach to teaching, the learning materials available and to describe their own level of comfort and engagement with the material in an honest and non-confrontational manner. Many of the students did not have a strong information technology background and the journals provided great insight into the views of the students and the challenges they faced in mastering this technology.