Please click on the log-in button and post your own ideas for Saturday sessions. We have a program of
Workshops for Friday, but Saturday is wide open. That’s the way THATCamps work!

I would like to propose a session for Saturday on working with GIS in the humanities classroom. GIS [Geographic Information Systems] raises interesting teaching opportunities and dilemmas for humanities faculty. I’d like to be part of a discussion with other folks who are interested in these issues to share experiences and brainstorm about GIS pedagogy techniques for the humanities disciplines.

On the one hand, the dominant player, by far, in the GIS world is ArcGIS, by ESRI. Their software is the gold standard and they have developed some excellent teaching materials. They have also been good about publicizing how humanists [or at least historians like me] use their technology. And they do make 90-day trial disks quite readily available for students and faculty.

On the downside, an installed license version of ArcGIS is quite expensive and setting up a full teaching lab could be quite expensive. My institution can afford this but I’m teaching graduate and undergraduate students who will be teaching in institutions — high schools, community colleges, and small private colleges — that will probably not be able to put up such a lab. And on a philosophical basis, I’d like to be turning students on to more open-source software.

There is open-source GIS software like Quantum GIS, which runs on Windows, Mac and Linux systems. These would be easy to set up in an existing lab or to have students install on their own computers. Has anyone had experience teaching with these?

And there are also all kinds of new GIS-lite applications, with a lot of potential for teachiing. Some, like ArcGIS explorer and other ArcGIS on-line products, are relatively new while others, like Google Earth, have been in the teaching arena for a few years now. What should we be doing with these tools in the classroom? What are people doing with them?