The Curriculum consists of a 1000+ page set of lecture notes and supporting materials for 75 lectures organized into three quarter length courses which might be taught over one school year at the upper division university level. The courses are entitled:
While the name "curriculum" may imply a more rigorous structure, the materials were designed to be easily modified and rearranged according to individual instructors' preferences and students' interests and backgrounds. By structuring the materials as point-form lecture notes, rather than as dense student-oriented prose, the essential themes are readily apparent and easily modifiable. In fact, the success of the Curriculum is certainly due in part to its non-prescriptive nature. Instructors were free to use whatever parts were appropriate and to ignore or augment those parts with which they were dissatisfied.
Since August 1990 when the Core Curriculum was released, the NCGIA has distributed over 1500 copies to institutions of higher education, secondary schools, government agencies and private consulting companies in more than 70 countries. As well, in order to accommodate the needs of colleagues in developing and newly democratic countries and to encourage the development of foreign language versions, national distribution sites were established in 14 countries. These have led to hundreds of additional copies distributed in English as well as in French, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Hungarian versions.
An analysis of the distribution patterns in recent years shows little change from that found in the early years (Goodchild and Kemp 1992). Figures 1 and 2 show distribution totals categorized by continent and by organization in annual segments. No clear trends are apparent in either figure.
Apart from such publishing ventures, the Curriculum has clearly been fundamental in helping a great many GIS educators get started. Much of this information is anecdotal, though occasional references to its usefulness have appeared in print (Smith 1990; Coulson and Waters 1991; Unwin 1991; Civco et al 1992; Markus 1993). Since they were designed as a set of materials for instructors, many introductory GIS courses in the US and elsewhere have begun as a variation of these lectures as new instructors quickly developed skills and knowledge about their new courses. However, as expected, individual reliance on the lecture notes faded quickly as instructors discovered their own student's interests and abilities, added locally relevant and updated topics, and incorporated hands-on technical training for a variety of specific GI Systems. From the beginning of the original Core Curriculum project, it was the editors' stated intention that there would be only one Core Curriculum, that the original version would also be the final version. If the Curriculum fulfilled its purpose, we felt, no further editions would be needed; GIS education would have become widely dispersed and self perpetuating. This argument, however, was eventually shown to be unfounded.
|Remote Sensing Core Curriculum||Timothy Foresman, University of Maryland, Baltimore County||http://www.umbc.edu/rscc|
|Core Curriculum in GIScience||Karen Kemp, University of California, Santa Barbara||http://www.ncgia.ucsb.edu/giscc|
|Core Curriculum for Technical Programs||Stephen Palladino, University of California, Santa Barbara||http://www.ncgia.ucsb.edu/cctp|
The WWW as a distribution medium eliminates these problems and provides many new opportunities for development of the new Curricula. Although there is still much to be learned about organizing and designing hyperlinked materials, linking sections of a curriculum to several related ones without enforcing a linear sequence is a simple task when using browser technology and HTML formats. With regards to keeping materials updated, a number of opportunities now exist. The vast store of information now available on the net provides the opportunity for individual sections of a curriculum to link outside to external sources of information such as that provided by government agencies (e.g. current information about DLGs from the USGS). In this manner, updates can be assumed to occur automatically from the provider side, though, of course, a need for monitoring and managing included URLs exists. As well, if new topics are identified or more detailed material is needed on certain existing topics, the composition and linking of new sections is a straightforward task.
The web also provides an efficient editorial medium. For all three new Curricula, units are being written by authors widely distributed around the globe. Draft units are or will be posted locally by these authors or transmitted to the editorial teams for posting on access restricted web sites. The editorial process thus involves no mailing of hard copy and can, in theory at least, be completed much more quickly. Editors and reviewers with appropriate access privileges simply link to these draft pages and view them locally. Editorial changes thus inspired can be acted upon immediately and require only digital editing rather than reprinting of documents.
The web also provides new opportunities for the inclusion of high quality color graphics and, given the rapid evolution of the technology, possibly even animated segments. It can be assumed that many instructors will be able to incorporate these images captured from the web into their local classroom presentations and that others will use the web-based materials as the basis for student oriented instructional materials, bypassing the now somewhat ill-regarded lecture hall. In the following sections, we describe how each of the Curricula projects is designed to take particular and distinct advantage of web technology.
During the initial meetings, the RSCC Steering Committee worked to lay out a complete curriculum in remote sensing and by late 1992, they had identified a full set of 11 courses which they felt would make up the ideal curriculum. These are described in (Estes et al 1993). However, from the pragmatic point of view, in order to ensure that materials could indeed be completed and quickly made available for use, the committee decided to focus initial development on a core set of four courses. Each of these courses is planned as a separate "volume" with editorial responsibilities split between teams at several US universities. Volume titles and responsibilities are:
In addition to its development for distribution on the WWW rather than on paper, the RSCC's most distinctive departure from the original CC model involves the incorporation of laboratory exercises and data sets as part of the basic materials to be distributed. While some laboratory materials were developed to support the original CC (Dodson 1991; Veregin 1991), the design philosophy required a strict separation of technical aspects from the core theoretical concepts. In the RSCC, access to and demonstration with digital images is recognized as fundamental for the understanding of the core concepts being presented. Most of the modules of the RSCC include detailed laboratory exercises and provide for the downloading of the necessary digital image data.
Another modification of the original model is the use of a more student oriented format in some of the modules and in the exercises. This format uses prose rather than point-form outlines and is designed for reading or direct incorporation into instructional units, rather than as a guide for instructors as they organize the content of their instructional units. However, similar to the original model, volumes 1-3 of the RSCC are organized in a linear sequence of topics with materials generally building on introductory material as one progresses downward in the list. Volume 4 is a set of applications and exercises which are intended to link to many different points in the other conceptual or theoretical sections.
While the basic unit structure remains the same, the content of the new GISCC has undergone a significant refocusing. Rather than a CC in GI Systems as with the original, the new Curriculum addresses GI Science. This reflects a growing awareness that the concepts which underlie many of the new geographic information technologies are fundamental and should be considered as a scientific field rather than simply as a computer technology or system. The new GISCC is based on the principle that the characteristic distinguishing GIS and geographic information technologies in general from all other fields is a focus on geographic concepts. These are defined as the primitive elements, features, and relationships used to analyze, model, reason and make decisions in a geographic context. They range from concepts about the form of the Earth and the measurement of position on its surface, to concepts of direction, adjacency, and connectivity, to the more advanced concepts that underlie our understanding of the processes that operate on the Earthís surface.
The curriculum is organized as a tree with more advanced concepts growing from the fundamentals. The four main branch nodes are:
By using a tree structure, the curriculum avoids linearity, and allows complexity to be added. The number of levels of the tree is not defined; new units can be added above existing ones, to add greater detail, but must be appropriately linked to lower nodes. If an instructor opted to traverse the entire curriculum, it could be done in any combination of height and breadth - height-first traversal would produce a linear and highly specialized course structure, while breadth-first traversal would place all of the introductory material first.
At best, the community as a whole will likely agree only on the lower levels of the tree. The proposed editorial procedure is designed to allow as much freedom as possible in the upper more detailed levels, so that units can be contributed on specialized topics with minimal need for restructuring. The only requirement is that they use the template for the design of an individual instructional unit and that they fit somewhere above an existing node. If a lower node does not exist, the editorial committee will need to consider whether it should be generated so as to provide an appropriate foundation for the proposed material.
The editorial procedure of the new Core Curriculum is based on the journal metaphor. The project is overseen by a Senior Editor, Karen Kemp at UCSB, and an Editorial Board who will ensure the overall validity of the Curriculum content. Section Editors are assigned to individual sections (subtrees) of the initial outline, usually consisting of 5-8 units. They are responsible for identifying authors for individual units and for overseeing the peer review process of these units. Both unit materials themselves and any included external URL links are peer reviewed to ensure the quality of the materials. It is the intent of the editors that all materials included or referenced within the GISCC have been given a dependable quality assurance review. Once units have been successfully reviewed and edited, they are posted to the open web site for further public evaluation. Editing and updating will be an ongoing process continuing as needed into the foreseeable future.
Once the initial materials have been posted and begin to be used, the NCGIA editorial team will turn their attention to the development of a number of subsidiary products aimed at making the materials easier to access and even more effective. Navigation tools to assist users find units on specific themes or to find related sets of units will include an index based on index words linked to individual units, a search tool and a map which displays graphically how various units are linked to one another.
In addition to these navigation tools, a large number of additional projects will be initiated through a worldwide network of partners. These projects allow anyone with web access to the GISCC to modify and augment the materials for various purposes. Approved projects will be refereed or otherwise vested to ensure the quality of their results matches that of the main body of work. Partner projects currently under consideration are:
In order to directly address the needs of technical programs, a major element of the project development design includes participation by technical college GIS instructors. Unlike university academics who have more freedom to choose what to focus on in their professional hours, college instructors have time to attend to little other than their day to day teaching tasks. Therefore, this project incorporates a number of formal structures for obtaining the necessary input. This project is overseen by a Project Manager, Steve Palladino, at UCSB and an Advisory Board consisting largely of college instructors. To get the project started on a firm foundation, a working group of experienced GIS instructors from colleges in the US and Canada met in the summer of 1996 for a week long work session. During this session, they laid out the conceptual structure for the CCTP, drafted a task list for the instructional units to be developed and identified the critical structural features. Also building on a tree metaphor, this working group identified the elements for this Curriculum as follows:
What each unit of the CCTP will precisely include is not yet completely specified. While there has been some demand for sets of step-by-step instructions on how to do specific tasks with various combinations of hardware and software, it is clear that the principles driving the original CC should continue to be applied here. What the NCGIA CCTP can do most usefully is to provide a context within which specific technical skills can be taught. That is, the project will identify and put into context the fundamental steps and critical issues for each of the essential tasks carried out by GIS technicians. By providing a conceptual framework within which individual instructors can place their own installation specific operational commands, the opportunity to influence the instruction of technical skills is as great as it was originally to influence the design and content of university level courses.
As living projects, the NCGIA Core Curricula will continue to need critical review and contributions from the GIS and RS education communities. Colleagues from around the world are encouraged to visit the websites listed above and to consider how they might also contribute. Eventually, portions of these projects may be crystallized on CD-ROMs, both for the benefit of our colleagues who do not yet have easy access to the WWW, and also as permanent records of stages in these projects. Like the original Core Curriculum, these projects are certain to provide benchmarks in Curriculum development for years to come.
Coulson, M R C and N M Waters 1991 Teaching the NCGIA Core Curriculum in practice: a review and assessment Cartographica 28(3): 88-93
Davis, F, J E Estes and J Star 1991 Initiative 12: Integration of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems, Report of the Specialist Meeting National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
Dodson, R F 1991 GIS Laboratory Exercises: Volume 1 National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
Estes, J E, J L Star, M F Goodchild, T Cary, R Eastman, N Faust, T W Foresman, J R Jensen and T Shupin 1993 The NCGIA Core Curriculum in Remote Sensing Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 59(6): 945-948
Goodchild, M F and K K Kemp 1990 NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
Goodchild, M F and K K Kemp 1992 NCGIA education activities: the Core Curriculum and beyond International Journal of Geographical Information Systems 6(4): 309-320
Kemp, K K 1991 GIS education around the world: Year three of the NCGIA Core Curriculum Project AGI '91 Conference, Birmingham
Kemp, K K and F M Goodchild 1992 Evaluating a major innovation in higher education: the NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS Journal of Geography in Higher Education 16(1): 21-35
Kemp, K K and M F Goodchild 1991 Developing a curriculum in Geographic Information Systems: The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis Core Curriculum project Journal of Geography in Higher Education 15(2): 121-132
Markus, B 1993 NCGIA Core Curriculum in the Hungarian GIS/LIS education Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 17(3): 277-283
Morgan, J M, III 1992 Academic GIS Directory: GIS in higher education. Geo Info Systems 2: 51-73
Morgan, J M, III and G R Bennett 1990 Directory of Colleges and Universities offering Geographic Information System Courses American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, Bethesda, MD, USA
Morgan, J M, III and B B Fleury 1993 Academic GIS education: Assessing the state of the art. Geo Info Systems 3: 32-40
National Science Foundation (NSF) 1987 Solicitation: National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis Washington, DC National Science Foundation
Raper, J F and N Green 1992 Teaching the principles of GIS: lessons from the GISTutor project International Journal of Geographical Information Systems 6(4): 279-290
Smith, W C 1990 Trial implementation of NCGIA model curriculum using MAP II and GRASS Fourth International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling, Zurich
Unwin, D J 1991 The academic setting of GIS Geographical Information Systems, Principles and Applications Maguire D J, M F Goodchild and D W Rhind (eds), Longman, London UK 1: 81-100
Veregin, H 1991 GIS Laboratory Exercises: Volume 2, Technical Issues National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA