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GUI-Free GIS Instruction in the Library with Jupyter Notebooks

Authors: Philip White*, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries
Topics: Geography Education, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: GIS, Data Science
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 1:00 PM / 2:15 PM
Room: Virtual Track 9
Presentation Link: Open in New Window
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The ubiquity of GIS into everyday lives has resulted in its proliferation to nearly all academic disciplines. This disciplinary expansion beyond Geography and the Earth Sciences has resulted in a wider array of GIS methods and technical approaches. Emphasis on developing technical skills like coding as well as the popularity of the emerging field of Data Science necessitate GIS instruction outside of the traditional box. However, GIS curriculum often over-emphasizes learning a tool rather than higher-level concepts. Teaching GIS with a minimalist tech-approach instead of the industry standard graphical user interface (GUI) directs learners' attention away from the tool and toward their data. While it is important that students learning GIS gain competence in industry standard desktop software, striking a balance between GUI instruction and code-based approaches can lead to deeper learning and higher-level understanding of geospatial concepts and methods. Academic libraries are in a unique position to fulfill the need for alternative GIS instruction on campus because they embrace open source technologies and possess greater flexibility in instructional approaches. This presentation discusses the variety of technologies used to facilitate GIS instruction in a library setting, with a particular emphasis on the pedagological benefits of teaching GIS using the Python programming language, Jupyter Notebooks, and open source code libraries. The objective of this presentation is to empower librarians and educators to embrace GUI-free GIS instruction and provide code-based instructional materials that others may adapt to their teaching practice.

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