Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title A 'Prelude to GIS' for Learners On Campus and Off
Originator David DiBiase
Department Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, 302 Walker Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Tel. +1 814 863 1790
Fax +1 814 863 7943

Main Features

In 1996 I set out to create a new general education course which introduces students to fundamental concepts of geographic information science. The course would be delivered both to traditional students on campus, and to continuing professional students off campus.

The result, which made its debut in the fall of 1997, is a 'prelude to GIS' entitled "Mapping Our Changing World." The resident version of the course is offered currently to some 120 students per semester, most of whom are not geography majors, but who receive social science general education credit for the course. All course materials and student projects are published via the World Wide Web. One of the goals of the new course was to attract new majors to the Department, and particularly into our Geographic Information Science specialty.

In the two years since the course made its debut, resident GIScience majors have increased by 50 percent (from 26 to 39), and the number of women in the specialty has increased by 100 percent (from 4 to 8). Students report a high level of satisfaction with assignments that involve producing - not just consuming - Web-based information.


The resident version of the course is published at:

Information about the distance version is published at:

A full account of the course strategy is published in DiBiase, David (1996) Rethinking Laboratory Education for an Introductory Course on Geographic Information. Cartographica 33:4, pp. 61-72.


Distance education
Geographic Information Science
World-Wide Web

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Page created 9 November 1999
Database pages maintained by Phil Gravestock