Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Support
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) support is available for students, faculty, and staff of the university. This can be in the form of one-on-one or group appointments and curricular support for instructors. Appointments are with Kean McDermott, Technology and GIS Specialist GWLAI.
How can I request assistance?
To schedule and appointment please use the following link:
Who is eligible for consultation?
All GW students, faculty, and staff are eligible for free GIS assistance with an appointment. Tutoring is not available. For assistance with geography assignments, please contact your TA or professor.
Workshops are available every semester. For a complete listing please visit the library calendar.
The following is a brief example of how GIS methodology can be integrated into a non GIS specific course, augmenting the data analysis skills of the participants.Throughout the month of February 2018. I have had the pleasure of working with Professor Max Van Balgooy and his Museums and Community Engagement Course. This seminar is offered through the Department of Museum Studies. In this course twelve Museum Studies Masters students were brought through an introductory course in utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software and methods to analyze the community and user/member bases of four museums across the United States. In instances like this, the GW Libraries and Academic Innovation and specifically Scholarly Technology Group provide natural partners to professors looking for assistance with data, methodology and software assistance in the classroom.
I was first contacted by Professor van Balgooy at the beginning of November. He sought to include GIS instruction in this course as a way to engage students and encourage spatial thinking within the Department of Museum Studies. Professor van Balgooy uses GIS methodologies regularly in his professional work with museums, utilizing this software to give his museum clients insight into the places in which their museums are situated and the community of users that interact with them. He sought help in developing the curriculum and delivering instruction to students. GIS is the perfect tool for contextualizing the community in which a facility is located. The software and methodology allow plotting data across geographic space and permit a user to look for patterns and trends in that data as it applies to location on the globe.
Professor van Balgooy had three goals in mind for the course: to understand how to calculate driving distances and how they differ from distances “as the crow flies”; to incorporate census data and better understand the communities in which these museums are situated; and finally, to give these students a skill and resources that they can draw upon in the competitive museum job market. Initially Professor van Balgooy thought to utilize the ESRI ArcGIS software suite to accomplish these four tasks, however I suggested utilizing QGIS, an open source alternative. This gives students a no cost, cross-platform option that they can easily adapt in future workplace. QGIS also has great supporting documentation and free courses available to aid in learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Of the twelve participants in these sessions, only one participant had utilized GIS in undergraduate coursework. If it weren’t for projects such as this, students might not be exposed to some of the data resources that are available and of interest to the museum profession. These students were the perfect candidates to try out a very directed and focused teaching effort to meet the goals and deliverables of this class.
Stay tuned, supporting visuals for a Museum Community Engagement Plan are due at the end of April. These documents will detail the communities that surround the museum and how the museum itself can better relate itself to its surrounding community, and will be presented to the involved museums.