GEO 221 LAB: Introduction to Geographic Information LAB, Online
Spring 2018: Semester: Syllabus

Instructor, Section 730: Dan Wanyama

Geography Building, 673 Auditorium Rd, Room ???
Office phone: 517-???
Online office hours: by appointment
Course site:
SS18-GEO-221L-730 - Intro Geo Info Lab 

Syllabus Outline:

Course Description

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes (Objectives)

Course Requirements and Recommendation:

Course requirements

Course recommendation

Course Netiquette

Course Organization

Your course author, instructor, and onGEO staff

Course content



Online labs

Course Policies

MSU privacy statement (and use of course materials)

Academic honesty


Spartan Code of Honor


Calculating your final grade

Extra credit

Spring 2018: Schedule

Course Description:

Geography 221L will complement the concepts and topics covered in Geography 221 (both lecture and online) with hands-on lab exercises. You will learn how to perform basic geographic analysis using Geographic Information Systems, apply aerial image interpretation concepts to describing landscape change, and design your own maps using established cartographic principles. You will also explore in more detail the ethical issues surrounding the uses of geospatial technologies and the many applications of geospatial tools in a variety of disciplines.

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes (Objectives):

Course goals

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

Course learning outcomes (objectives)

By the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Use latitude/longitude and decimal degrees to describe locations on the earth’s surface.
  2. Make decisions as to the appropriate map projection for various map purposes and uses.
  3. Describe how we can track locations using Global Positioning Systems.
  4. Analyze satellite images to make conclusions about landscape change in urban, agricultural, and rural landscapes.
  5. Perform basic geographic analysis using open-source GIS software programs.
  6. Evaluate and choose appropriate color and classification schemes for thematic maps.
  7. Obtain geographic datasets and design a map using an online mapping program.
  8. Apply cartographic design techniques to create a map that effectively communicates geographic information.
  9. Describe and give specific examples of the diverse applications of geospatial technologies.
  10. Identify well- (or poorly) designed maps for the online environment and describe specifically how they implement (or do not implement) effective cartographic design techniques.
  11. Describe and give specific examples of ethical concerns regarding the use of geospatial technologies.

Course Requirements and Recommendation:

Course requirements

Course recommendation

All course emails will be sent to your Michigan State ( accounts ONLY. You will need to check your Michigan State account at least once a day for emails from your Instructor and Online-Geography (onGEO) staff. If you need to, please set your Michigan State account to forward your emails to an account that you do check frequently.

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 labs and associated introductory material. Course assessments are accomplished through online quizzes (based on the online labs).

Your instructor onGEO staff, and course author

Dan Wanyama is the course Instructor. He is responsible for the day-to-day management (for example, respond to any content questions you may have, answer any questions about how to work through the course) and grading of assessments, and issuing final grades. ALL email correspondence and other forms of communication need to go to Dan Wanyama.

Beth Weisenborn is the Coordinator for the course and a staff member of Online Geography (onGEO) courses at State. Juliegh Bookout is a staff member of Online Geography (onGEO) courses at State. You may receive notices from either of them occasionally. Ms. Adrienne Goldsberry was the original creator of this course.

Course content

This course consists of:


We do not use a textbook in this course. The lecture and online versions of GEO221, however, use a text that you may find helpful to use as a reference: Introduction to Geospatial Technologies, 2nd or 3rd Editions by Bradley A. Shellito. W.H. Freeman, Inc. NY. A copy of this textbook may be on reserve in the library.


There will be seven quizzes during the semester (all of which count toward your final grade calculation). The purpose of these quizzes is to test your understanding of the foundational concepts and material from the labs.

The dates of the quizzes are listed on the course schedule page and calendar. You will be notified of an upcoming quiz via the calendar on D2L. This notification will provide you with information concerning the quiz dates and access times.

Each quiz will be offered during a wide (~24hr +) window (Eastern Time) on dates specified (course schedule page and calendar). You may log into the quiz at any time during that window. Once logged into the quiz, you have a set time limit to complete your quiz and turn it in. Otherwise, your quiz will be submitted by the computer at the time limit and will not allow you to make further changes.

You are expected to treat the online quizzes as you would a quiz in a traditional lecture class - in other words, no cheating of any kind (including plagiarism). You may use any notes you took from your labs to complete the quiz. Please be advised that 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 (Assessments> Grades) in the following days. Official grades, answers, and explanations for the quiz are provided on the course website about 3-4 days following the quiz.

Quizzes will consist of mostly multiple-choice, true/false, and some short answer and essay/calculation questions. All quiz 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 the quiz is missed due to an emergency, you must contact your Instructor immediately to arrange a makeup quiz. 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 quiz. Otherwise, you will miss your opportunity to take a makeup and receive 0 points for the quiz.

Online labs

In addition to the quizzes, you will also be required to complete entirely online labs 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 lab 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 lab answers compared to the grading rubric, the grading process is subject to the rigor of the Instructor. Also, have in mind that late submissions will not be graded/accepted.

Each lab 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!

Labs are independent exercises; you are not to collaborate with fellow students on them or use previous versions (even if they are yours) to complete them. The labs are designed to take approximately 2-4 hours to complete. We highly recommend using a PC for the labs, however, it is possible to use a Mac.

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

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, the Department of Geography, Environment, & Spatial Sciences 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 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 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. (

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 Dishonesty 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.


Calculating your final grade

Your final grade will be based on your seven lab scores, one essay score, and seven quiz scores. Here is the breakdown:


Points Possible

Lab. Coordinate Systems & Map Projections


Lab. Global Positioning Systems Applications


Lab. Remote Sensing


Lab. GIS 1 - Data Exploration


Lab. GIS 2 - Data Analysis


Lab. Color in Cartography


Lab. Making Your Own Map [Final Project]
             Part 1: Proposal
            Part 2: Map and Essay


Geospatial Ethics Essay


Quizzes (1-7), 10 points each


Total points possible in the course =


Final grades will be based on the following STRAIGHT SCALE:



91 - 100


86 - 90


81 - 85


76 - 80


71 - 75


66 - 70


52 - 65


< 52


To view all your grades in this course, select Grades from the Assessments menu in D2L.

Extra credit

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

GEO 221LAB-V: Intro. to Geographic Information LAB, Online     Spring 2018: Semester: Schedule

Important Dates
M, Jan 15: No Class  |  F, Feb 2:Last Day for Tuition Refund  |  W, Feb 28: Middle of the Session  |  M, Mar 5 to F, Mar 9: Spring Break

Note: The date in the left-hand column refers to when the assignment will be available to you on the course D2L website. Due dates are highlighted (in blue or pink or orange).




Points Possible



Getting Started




Introduction to the Course




Geo 221 Refresher




Coordinate Systems & Map Projections


Tu, Jan 16: Entrance Questionnaire due*

W, Jan 24: Lab 1: Coordinate Systems & Map Projections due*

M, Jan 29: Quiz 1: Coordinate Systems & Map Projections due*         (Covers all material from Lab 1; 10 points)



Global Positioning Systems Applications


W, Jan31: Lab 2: Global Positioning Systems Applications due*        

M, Feb 5: Quiz 2: Global Positioning Systems Applications due*           (Covers all material from Lab 2; 10 points)



Remote Sensing


W, Feb 7: Lab 3: Remote Sensing due*

M, Feb 12: Quiz 3: Remote Sensing due*                                  (Covers all material from Lab 3; 10 points)



GIS 1 - Data Exploration


W, Feb 14: Lab 4: GIS 1 - Data Exploration due*

M, Feb 19: Quiz 4: GIS 1 - Data Exploration due*                          (Covers all material from Lab 4; 10 points)



GIS 2 - Data Analysis [**use a PC if possible**]


M, Feb 26: Lab 5: GIS 2 - Data Analysis due*

Fri, Mar 2: Quiz 5: GIS 2 - Data Analysis due*                                 (Covers all material from Lab 5; 10 points)



Color in Cartography


M, Mar 19: Lab 6: Color in Cartography due*

F, Mar 23: Quiz 6: Color in Cartography due*                          (Covers all material from Lab 6; 10 points)



Geospatial Ethics Essay


M, Apr 2: Geospatial Ethics Essay due*



[Final Project] Making Your Own Map

Part 1: Proposal

Part 2: Final Map & Essay




M, Apr 9: Lab 7.1: Making Your Own Map (Proposal) due*



Course Wrap-up

M, Apr 30: Lab 7.2: Making Your Own Map (Final Map & Essay) due*
F, May 4:
Quiz 7: Making Your Own Map due*                          (Covers all material from Lab 7; 10 points)

 *All assessments and surveys are due by 11:59 PM, ET on the due date given.