Introductory GIS Workshops Using Open-Source GIS Tools


Competence in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an essential component of geographical and earth science post-secondary education. Licensing of proprietary GIS software has been a barrier to the inclusion of GIS in the curriculum of the Department of Earth & Environmental Science at Acadia University, where students are required to provide their own laptop computers. Since 2014, our department has integrated QGIS into its field school curriculum and conducted introductory GIS workshops based on the open-source QGIS software. QGIS is available on MacOS, Windows, and Linux platforms, is free to install, and has no license restrictions pertaining to educational or commercial use. Field school workshops were one day in length and received moderately positive feedback; winter workshops were two days in length and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. The two-day weekend format allowed participation from students, faculty, and community members from multiple departments and allowed for an immersive environment conducive to learning a new software platform. Participants were able to transfer their skills to other software packages such as R and ESRI products following completion of the course.

Atlantic Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers
Dewey Dunnington
Geoscientist, Programmer, Educator