USING FREE AND OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE TO TEACH UNIVERSITY GIS COURSES ONLINE: LESSONS LEARNED DURING A PANDEMIC
- Central Washington University, Department of Geography 400 E University Way, Ellensburg, Washington, USA
Keywords: FOSS, higher education, pandemic, online learning, QGIS, PostGIS, GeoDa
Abstract. During the remote learning necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, university GIS students did not always have home access to the kinds of software and hardware that they would ordinarily get in their on-campus lab facilities. In this situation, the free and cross-platform nature of FOSS opened the door for some students to continue their GIS education uninterrupted. In this article, I describe how one university allowed students to choose FOSS such as QGIS, PostGIS, and GeoDa as alternatives to proprietary software in upper-division GIS coursework. These were used to teach techniques such as point pattern analysis, visibility analysis, hydrological modeling, proximity surfaces, LISA analysis, process modeling, open data access, and data summation. I share specific software tools, commands, and plugins used to apply these techniques in lab assignments. I discuss how these approaches can form a lasting part of the GIS curriculum beyond the pandemic, and how students can position these FOSS skills as they prepare for the GIS job market.