The teaching process here is not only didactic but also very practical which allows us to indulge in team spirit and experiments”
The above is one of the few of the comments of the students undergoing the UNIGIS course at GIS Institute.
GIS Institute is the education and training division of GIS Development Pvt Ltd. Distance learning course of UNIGIS is being conducted at the GIS Institute facility in Noida as a full-time course, for the first time, for which the participants will be awarded UNIGIS Prof (Post-Graduate Diploma in Geo-Informatics).
This six months course comprises 8 modules covering basics of GIS, its technology, processes, applications, database management and programming.
The eight modules, being covered, during the course are,
- GIS Introduction
- Data Modeling and Data Structures
- Data Sources and Data Acquisition
- Spatial Statistics
- Application Development
- Geographical Analysis
- Visualization and Cartography
and the software being used are ArcGIS, ArcInfo with Spatial, 3-D, Network and Geo-Statistical Analyst and GeoMedia Professional, besides LandSerf, CaseStudio and Visual Basic.
The course has been designed in Blackboard environment and is hosted at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Through a valid userid and password, the material is made available to the participants, worldwide and at all the times, over Internet. However, the same is made available to the participants through the Blackboard Backpack (Bb), where the participants have the option of downloading the reading materials, exercises, assignments and additional materials, if Bb is installed on the desktop, which they can use as per their convenience. The updates to the courses is made available to the participants, as soon as they are completed and Bb updates the material on the desktop, as soon as the participant logs on to the campus.
The course is a well designed one where lot of research has gone in the preparation of study materials, exercises, assignments and additional resource materials. The modules are divided into lessons. Lessons are taught using presentations and supporting notes. Assignments evaluates the participants of their understanding of the lessons and exercises are the extended assignments although they are not evaluated for grading, as it is done for assignments. Additional resources and reading materials are available through “Hungry Minds”, where the interested participants can actually explore more resources and can enhance their knowledge further, beyond the mandatory presentations. Besides the free course of ESRI Virtual Campus, the participants also get access to other courses, which are otherwise paid. Apart from these materials, there are prominent people from the industry and academia, who are available as online faculty and any query to them is resolved within a couple of days.
GIS Institute provides all the necessary hardware and software, besides Internet connection and full-time faculty. The faculty helps the participants in making them understand and learn the lessons and query resolution. The faculty at the University of Salzburg also skype with the participants twice in every module, so that unresolved query, if any, could be attended.
This course is oriented towards imparting GIS education to the participants and not just the training on GIS and the software. In the initial modules, the participants are exposed to the basic methodologies and processes which are the essential requirements of Geomatics. Once they have undergone through the basics, they are given exposure to the software for database design and some visualization software. When they find themselves comfortable in using these, they are left to explore GeoMedia Professional through “Help”.
This gives them an idea of the various processes in the workflow of GIS and the different analysis techniques and results. In the next stage they are required to explore ArcGIS and continue learning conceptual knowledge on GoeDBMS and GeoStatistics. GeoDBMS is taught through Oracle and SQL and GeoStatistics through GeoStatistical Analyst extension of ArcGIS. Upon completion of these modules, they are exposed to the conceptual programming through Visual Basic and its integration to ArcGIS through COM and DLL programming.
The next two modules are on Analysis and Visualization. In the analysis section, the participants learn the different analysis techniques viz., Network, Spatial and 3-D through problem solving in ArcGIS. The last section is Visualization and Cartography, where they learn the different concepts of presenting the data in a much more effective way, so that “Map Speaks”.
The minimum entry qualification for the course is Bachelor’s, but at times, it is felt that it should have been post-graduate degree or degree with at least 2/3 years of working experience. At times, the concept of GIS and mapping are really difficult for the graduates to understand and comprehend. Also this slows down the pace of the course as such participants take more time to understand. This course also requires reasonably good Internet bandwidth and speed. At times, if this is not there, the initial time, when one downloads the entire module, non-availability of this becomes a constraint. Software availability in India to students is another point of concern. Although UNIGIS and the University of Salzburg has mutual understanding of providing educational one year licenses of ArcGIS and GeoMedia to the participants, these could not be made available to participants, due to some customs related issue.
Availability of free one year educational license to the participants shall help them in getting more exposure time to the software. In GeoDBMS, although theory for Oracle is there, but practical exposure to this should also be included with stripped down version of Oracle.
Visual Basic programming and GeoDBMS has been included in the course as mandatory. However, these could be made elective with another module of Advanced Analysis, so that the participant could choose either of them and as per their interest and requirement. One aspect of GIS, which the course does not take into account is data-capture. A section on this with the finer points and processes could be introduced in the initial modules using some industry standard software viz., Autodesk AutoCAD Map or Bentely Microstation or even ArcGIS.
The course is comprehensive and up-to-date, however, scope of some modifications in the structure and modules is always there.
- Amit Sutwane
- Every module of this is sequentially placed
- Assignment is the most advantageous part of this course
- The teaching process here is not only didactic but also very practical which allows us to indulge in team spirit and experiments
- The tough part of the course has actually been managing my time to complete all the assignments
- It gives intense knowledge on particular topic in term of “hungry minds” material
- We evaluate through online “Quiz”
- Every time I visit University website, the course content is updated automatically through Backpack
- I can share my doubts with other friends who are doing this course as well
- With an aim of becoming a complete “Geo-database Manager” and “GIS Analyst”, I strongly believe that this course surely lift me to high rises in my future