GEO 221: Introduction to Geographic Information, Online
Spring 2017: Semester: Syllabus

Instructor, Section 730: Beth Weisenborn (weisenbo@msu.edu)

Syllabus Outline:

Course Overview

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes (Objectives)

Course Requirements and Recommendations

Course requirements

Course recommendation

Course Netiquette

Course Organization

Your Instructor, onGEO staff, and course authors

Lessons

Textbook

Quizzes

Labs

Activities

Article and map critique

Course Policies

MSU privacy statement (and use of course materials)

Academic honesty

Plagiarism

Spartan Code of Honor

Grading

Calculating a final grade

Extra credit

Spring 2017: Schedule

Course Overview:

This course is designed to acquaint you with the tools and technology needed to access, manipulate, and display geographic information. It is a combined introduction to geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing (RS), and cartography (the science and art of mapmaking). You will also learn about ethical issues regarding the use of geospatial technologies, as well as trends in the practical applications of these important tools.

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes (Objectives):

Goals

The purpose (goals) of this course is to develop students':

Learning outcomes (objectives)

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

1.    Describe what geographic information is and why it is important to decision-making in a variety of

       disciplines.

2.    Give specific examples of how geographic information systems, global navigation satellite systems,

       remote sensing, and cartographic design are used together to address complex geographic problems.

3.    Identify various sources of geographic information and know how to obtain datasets from those

       sources.

4.    Analyze and display spatial information using simple GIS programs.

5.    Propose ways in which geospatial tools can be applied to problem-solving scenarios in a variety of

       disciplines.

6.    Use established cartographic principles to create a basic thematic map.

7.    Describe and give specific examples of ethical concerns regarding the use of geospatial technologies.

8.    Describe and give specific examples of the diverse applications of geospatial technologies.

9.    Defend viewing the world with a geographic perspective, and describe how spatial thinking can

       contribute to problem-solving.

Course Requirements and Recommendation:

Course requirements

PLEASE NOTE:
 (1) All course emails will be sent to your Michigan State (mail.msu.edu) accounts ONLY through the D2L system. You will need to check your Michigan State account at least once a day for emails from your Instructor and Online-Geography staff. If you need to, please set your Michigan State account to forward your emails to an account that you do check frequently.

 (2) The lab component of Introduction to Geographic Information is taught as an entirely separate course: Geo 221v-LAB. If you would like to take the lab component, please sign up for that course (either concurrently with or after this one).

Course recommendation

Course Netiquette:

An entirely online course is quite different from the traditional courses you have taken at Michigan State University. In an online course, the only contact you are likely to have with your Instructor or with others in the class is through email, discussion boards, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, facebook, et cetera. In general, this system works very well and many students prefer it to a traditional (lecture) class because they can ask questions freely without feeling intimidated. We have also discovered, however, that this same feeling of freedom can be a negative thing, particularly because some students feel they can be rude. We ask that you make a special effort to be respectful in all of your correspondences during this course.

REMEMBER: THE ONLY BASIS YOUR INSTRUCTOR HAS FOR GRADING AND DISCUSSIONS IS THROUGH YOUR WORDS ON A COMPUTER SCREEN. Your Instructor has no other context in which to understand your thinking. Therefore, it is important to be concise, informative, and polite while ‘talking’ with your Instructor and other students in the class.

Course Organization:

While a team of faculty and staff manages the course, an Instructor teaches each section. Moreover, this course is delivered through a series of online lessons and textbook readings. Course assessments are accomplished through online exams (based on online lessons and textbook readings) and short hands-on activities (‘mini-labs’) after several of the lessons. Self-quizzes are provided for you after many lessons so you can test your understanding of the lesson material.

Your instructor, onGEO Staff, and course authors

Beth Weisenborn is the course instructor.  She is responsible for the day-to-day management and grading. Ms. Weisenborn will grade all assignments and assessments, respond to any content questions you may have, answer any questions about how to work through the course, and issue final grades. ALL email correspondence and other forms of communication need to go to Ms. Weisenborn.

Juliegh Bookout is a staff member of Online Geography (onGEO) courses at Michigan State, so you may receive notices from her occasionally.

Ms. Adrienne Goldsberry and Dr. Kirk Goldsberry (both formerly in Geography at Michigan State University), are the original authors of this course.

Lessons

This course consists of 15 online lessons and associated readings.

Lesson

Topic

Text Readings
3rd edition page numbers in blue,
2nd edition in dark orange

0

Getting Started; Course Introduction

--

1

Introduction to Geography & Geographic Information
- What is Geography?
- Geographic Information
- Geographic Tools and Techniques

Chapter 1

2

Geographic & Cartographic Representation

- Geographic Representation
- Cartographic Representation

Chapter 5: pages 123 to 133

Chapter 5: pages 109 to 119

3

Basics of Geographic Information

- Shape of the Earth

-  Latitude and Longitude

-  Toponymy

Chapter 2: pages 39 to 47

Chapter 2: pages 33 to 41

4

Fundamentals of Two-Dimensional Maps

 - Projections

 - Types of Coordinate Systems

 - Locational Systems

-  Scale

Chapters 2 and 3

5

Introduction to Remote Sensing

- Definition & Value of Remote Sensing

- Electromagnetic Spectrum

- Spectral Signature

- Remote Sensing Platforms & Images

- Resolution

Chapter 10

6

Elements of Aerial-image Interpretation

 - Image Interpretation

 - Film Type & Color

 - Color Infrared Images

Chapter 9

7

Types of Satellite Images & Applications

 - Landsat

 - MODIS

 - SPOT

 - High-resolution Commercial Satellite Imagery

Chapters 11 and 12

8

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

 - Definitions of GIS

 - Organization of Geographic Data

 - Layers

Chapter 5

9

Tools of GIS, Metadata, & Sources of Geographic Datasets

 - Queries, Buffers, Overlay

 - Where to find GIS datasets

 - Understanding Metadata

Chapter 6

10

Intro. to Cartography & Cartographic Representation

 - Reference & Thematic Maps

 - History of Cartography

Chapter 7: pages 223 to 230

Chapter 7: pages 198 to 205

11

Basics of Cartographic Design

 - Visual Variables

 - Types of Thematic Maps

--

12

Data Classification

 - Quantiles

 - Equal Intervals

 - Natural Breaks

Chapter 7: pages 230 to 239

Chapter 7: pages 205 to 213

13

Ethics of Geographic Information

 - Locational Privacy

Additional assigned readings in the lesson

14

Voluntary Geographic Information

 - What is Voluntary Geographic Information?

 - Platforms for Voluntary Geographic Information

-  Practical Applications and Issues Concerning

Additional assigned readings in the lesson

15

Putting It All Together/Applications of Geographic Tools

 - Use of Remote Sensing, GIS, and Cart. Congruently

 - Practical Applications

Chapter 15

16

Course Wrap-up

--

Throughout the lessons, you will be asked to follow supplemental web links and answer associated questions.  The lesson will indicate whether links are required or optional. Required direction boxes will either say "At this time...", and provide you with instructions about further activities, or "A follow-up...", and provide you with further information about a concept introduced in the lesson material. You are required to complete the assignments in each of these direction boxes. Some quiz questions will be derived directly from websites that you are required to visit.

Features such as "A side note…" boxes or the "Above and Beyond" sections are optional. In such cases, exploration of these sites will increase your understanding of the subject matter and may help you with the quizzes.

In each online lesson, you may have the opportunity to test your knowledge with pop-ups or bullet questions. These questions are not graded and do not need to be handed in while you work through your lesson. You will, however, be able to look at the correct answers and discuss any further questions you may have with your Instructor. You may see some of these questions (or similar questions) again on an assessment.

Textbook

The textbook is required for this course. Each assigned assessment will be based, in part, on your assigned textbook readings. The textbook provides complementary explanations for material covered in the online lessons.

Quizzes

There will be seven quizzes during the session. Most quizzes cover two lessons (with one exception). The purpose of these quizzes is to test your understanding of the material from the online lessons and textbook readings.

The due dates of the quizzes are listed on the course schedule page and calendar. Each quiz will become available as the second lesson covered on the quiz turns on. You will then have until the due date listed on the course schedule to submit your quiz.

You may log into the quiz at any time during the week + window provided for you. Once logged into the quiz, you have a set time limit to complete your quiz and turn it in. You are expected to treat the online quiz as you would a quiz in a traditional lecture class - in other words, no cheating of any kind (including plagiarism). Quizzes are open-book, open-note, BUT closed-lesson. Your Instructor and other administrators CAN and DO monitor your quiz logs before, during, and after you have taken the quiz - they can detect patterns consistent with cheating and have the authority to discuss the matter with you immediately and give you a ZERO if they see fit. Once you have turned in your quiz, parts are automatically graded by the computer while other parts are manually graded by your Instructor. Your grades are then uploaded to your personal gradebook (Report tab) in the following days. Official grades, answers, and explanations for the quiz are provided on the course website about 3-4 days following the exam.

Quizzes will consist of mostly multiple-choice, true/false, and some short answer and essay/calculation questions. All questions are selected at random from a pool of questions. All answer options for each question are also ordered at random. Please take note that your quiz is unique and completely unlike any other student's quiz. Attempting to cheat on these quizzes is against University/course policy.

Makeup quizzes. Makeup quizzes are only allowed in a FEW cases. If a quiz is missed due to an emergency, you may arrange a makeup with your Instructor. Also, a makeup can be scheduled if the Instructor is notified at least ONE WEEK before the quiz date of a scheduling conflict. I cannot stress this enough... you MUST contact your Instructor IMMEDIATELY to set up a makeup. Otherwise, you will miss your opportunity to take a makeup and receive 0 points for the quiz.

Labs

The lab component of Geo 221v is taught as an entirely separate course: Geo 221v-LAB. If you would like to take the lab component, please sign up for that course (either concurrently with or after this one).

Activities

You will also be required to complete seven (6) entirely online ‘mini-lab’ activities and submit your answers in D2L by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on the date specified on the course schedule! Late responses are not accepted; you will receive 0 points. All of your activity grades will count toward your final-grade calculation.

As with any course, it is the responsibility of the Instructor to uphold the standards suggested by the grading rubrics provided by the course authors. While your grade is determined by assessing the quality of your answers compared to the grading rubric, the grading process is subject to the rigor of the Instructor.

The activities will be based on the lessons and textbook readings you have recently covered. Each activity is worth a variable number of points. Spelling and grammar will count toward your score for written answers. Any form or degree of plagiarism will NOT be TOLERATED and will result in 0 points, no questions asked!

Activities are independent exercises; you are not to collaborate with fellow students on them. They are designed to take approximately 1-2 hours to complete.

It is strongly suggested that you start the activities early so that you have enough time to ask your instructor any questions you might have.

Article and map critique

You will also be required to complete an Article and Map Critique Assignment and submit your answers in D2L by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on the date specified on the course schedule! Late responses are not accepted; you will receive 0 points.

As with any course, it is the responsibility of the Instructor to uphold the standards suggested by the grading rubrics provided by the course authors. While your grade is determined by assessing the quality of your answers compared to the grading rubric, the grading process is subject to the rigor of the Instructor.

Course Policies:

MSU privacy statement (and use of course materials)

From the D2L Help Page (2016):

MSU expects that you will respect the rights of faculty and other students as you participate in the educational process. Participating in an D2L course means that you may have access to personal information and academic work produced by other students and faculty members, such as discussion board postings, drafts of papers and other work produced in the course. Academic norms and MSU policy require that you must not reveal any information about classmates, coursework content, or its authors to anyone outside the course.

Students should be aware that their use of D2L materials and communication tools in a particular course may be observed and recorded by the instructor of that course. These observations and records may include a student's access to online library materials linked through the Desire2Learn course website. Use of these observations and records must conform to the use and release of confidential student records as described in Michigan State University's Access to Student Information. Students may link to library resources directly, without linking through D2L, using the Library website.

ALL of our course material in D2L is copyrighted property of Michigan State University. This means that ALL course material in the course site is protected and, other than one copy of the material for your own personal use, this material should not be distributed or posted in any form.

If material (lessons/assignments/exams/et cetera) from the course site is posted outside of D2L it is considered misuse of the material, therefore, the course staff can give you a 0 (even after the fact) for the assignment from which the material came.


Academic honesty

From Academic Integrity: MSU Policies, Regulations and Ordinances Regarding Academic Honesty and Integrity (Michigan State University's Office of the Ombudsperson, Faculty FAQ, 2016):

Article 2.III.B.2 of the SRR states: “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty specified in General Student Regulation 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations.

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit coursework you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course.  Also, you are not authorized to use the www.allmsu.com Web site to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU regulations on Protection of Scholarship and Grades will receive a failing grade in the course or on the assignment.

Faculty are required to report all instances in which a penalty grade is given for academic dishonesty.  Students reported for academic dishonesty are required to take an online course about the integrity of scholarship and grades.  A hold will be placed on the student's account until such time as the student completes the course.  This course is overseen by the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a specific type of academic misconduct defined as the effort to fundamentally use someone else's ideas as your own. Studies show that plagiarism is common at most universities, especially in online classes since it is easy to copy directly from the course site (or other websites) and put those exact words, or most of the words, in an answer. When completing written work, including answering essay questions on quizzes/exams and writing assignments, it is essential that you provide references where needed (that is, you properly cite all information that did not come from you) and that your responses are phrased in your OWN, original words. Failure to properly cite course materials (lessons and the textbook, if applicable) and using your own work previously submitted in another course without permission,  are also unacceptable. If your Instructor suspects that part or all of an answer has been plagiarized in any way or form, you will be contacted immediately--plagiarized content is given 0 points.

According to Michigan State University's Office of the Ombudsperson (2016),

Plagiarism may be accidental or blatant or self-plagiarism.  However, students are held to the same standards whether or not they knew they were plagiarizing or whether or not they were plagiarizing themselves or someone else.

It is your responsibility to read and understand course policies (like those provided here) and educate yourself so that you know what actions are considered acts of plagiarism (and academic misconduct, in general). A short quiz about academic plagiarism is located in the Getting Started folder of the course.  We strongly encourage you to read the associated materials and take the quiz prior to beginning the course. Please be conscientious of academic integrity and do not hesitate to contact your Instructor if you have any questions.

Spartan Code of Honor

As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do. (honorcode.msu.edu)

Student conduct that is inconsistent with the academic pledge is addressed through existing policies, regulations, and ordinances governing academic honesty and integrity: MSU Policies, Regulations and Ordinances Regarding Academic Honesty and Integrity.

Any student who commits an act of academic misconduct (including academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, or falsification of academic records; click here to read the University policy), will be reported to the University via the Academic Dishonestly Report portal. The type of misconduct and penalty, as well as a detailed account of the violation are submitted and will be accessible to the student’s Associate Dean, designee, and Instructor-of-Record.


Grading:

Calculating a final grade

Your final grade will be based on your six activity scores, one assignment, and seven quiz scores. Here is the breakdown:

Assessment

Points Possible

Activity 1. Coordinate Systems

 10

Activity 2. Aerial Photography

 10

Activity 3. Finding Geographic Datasets

 10

Activity 4. GIS Analysis

 10

Activity 5. Thematic Mapping

 10

Activity 6. Volunteered Geographic Information

 10

Article & Map Critique Assignment

30

Quizzes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (30 points each)

210

Total points possible in the course =

300

Final grades will be based on the following STRAIGHT SCALE (that has been specifically developed based on the performance of past GEO221-V students):

Percent

Grade

91 - 100

4.0

86 - 90

3.5

81 - 85

3.0

76 - 80

2.5

71 - 75

2.0

66 - 70

1.5

52 - 65

1.0

< 52

0.0

You can view your grades for your assessments by going to Assessments > Grades.

Extra credit

Given the number of assessments, no extra credit work will be considered.


GEO 221: Intro. to Geographic Information, Online          Spring 2017: Semester: Schedule

Important Dates
M, Jan 16: No Class  |  F, Feb 3:Last Day for Tuition Refund  |   W, Mar 1: Middle of the Session  |   M, Mar 6 to F, Mar 10: Spring Break

Date

Lesson

Topic 
(lesson modules are in the D2L site under the Content tab)

Text Reading
3rd edition page numbers in blue,
2nd edition in dark orange

1/9

0

Getting Started; Course Introduction

--

1/9

1

Introduction to Geography & Geographic Information

Chapter 1

1/17

2

Geographic & Cartographic Representation

Chapter 5: pages 123 to 133

Chapter 5: pages 109 to 119

Tu, January 17: Entrance Questionnaire (required) due; located in the Getting Started module*

Quiz 1 – due by M, January 23* (Covers all material from Lessons 1 and 2; 20 points)

1/23

3

Basics of Geographic Information

Chapter 2: pages 39 to 47

Chapter 2: pages 33 to 41

1/30

4

Fundamentals of Two-dimensional Maps

Chapters 2 and 3

W, February 1: Activity 1 (Coordinate Systems)                (10 points)

Quiz 2 – due by M, February 6* (Covers all material from Lessons 3 and 4; 20 points)

2/6

5

Introduction to Remote Sensing

Chapter 10

2/13

6

Elements of Aerial-image Interpretation

Chapter 9

F, February 17: Activity 2: Aerial Photography due*                (10 points)

Quiz 3 – due by M, February 20* (Covers all material from Lessons 5 and 6; 20 points)

2/20

7

Types of Satellite Images & Their Applications

Chapters 11 and 12

2/27

8

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

Chapter 5

3/13

9

Tools of GIS Analysis, Metadata, & Sources of Geographic Datasets

Chapter 6

W, March 15: Activity 3 (Finding Geographic Datasets) due*         (10 points)

Quiz 4 – due by M, March 20* (Covers all material from Lessons 7, 8, and 9; 20 points)

3/20

10

Introduction to Cartography/Cartographic Representation

Chapter 7: pages 223 to 230

Chapter 7: pages 198 to 205

3/27

11

Basics of Cartographic Design

--

F, March 31: Activity 4 (GIS Analysis) due*                          (10 points)

Quiz 5 – due by M, April 3* (Covers all material from Lessons 10 and 11; 20 points)

4/3

12

Data Classification

Chapter 7: pages 230 to 239

Chapter 7: pages 205 to 213

F, April 7: Activity 5 (Reference and Thematic Mapping) due*                 (10 points)

4/10

13

Ethics of Geographic Information

Additional assigned readings in the lesson

Quiz 6 – due by M, April 17* (Covers all material from Lessons 12 and 13; 20 points)

4/17

14

Volunteered Geographic Information

Additional assigned readings in the lesson

 F, April 21: Activity 6 (Volunteered Geographic Information) due*         (5 points)

4/24

15

Putting it All Together: Applications of Geographic Tools

Chapter 15

5/1

16

Course Wrap-up

--                          

Tu, May 2: Article & Map Critique Assignment due*          (15 points)

Quiz 7 – due by Th, May 4* (Covers all material from Lessons 14 and 15; 20 points)

*Quizzes and activities are due by 11:59 PM, ET on the due date given.