Open Courseware roundup

Ed emailed us with a nice roundup of open courseware directories and clearinghouses. We have posted about a couple of them previously, but I thought it would be good to highlight them again along with several new ones that Ed mentioned. For those of you who don’t know, open courseware refers to online material from actual college and university courses. A number of big schools have led the way in placing course materials online, including MIT, UC Berkeley, and Carnegie-Mellon here in the US and the University of Tokyo in Japan.

Open Courseware Directory

Open Courseware Finder

Open Courseware Consortium

MIMA Search engine

The Stingy Scholar – (Wayfaring map interface for university podcasts, etc.)

I am sure there are others out there, and open courseware is a great way to increase your knowledge about topics you’re interested in, so definitely take a look at what’s out there.

Penn State Geospatial Technology Summer Camp

Penn State is offering a summer camp for 12-18 year-olds to give kids hands-on experience with GIS, GPS, and other geospatial technologies. The camp will be held from July 31st-August 4th at Penn State’s University Park campus. I think this is a great idea, and I wish we could get something like that started here. When we have hosted high school and middel school students in the past, they have really been excited when they can actually use GIS, even if it’s just panning and zooming around to find features or making simple maps.

If you’d like to find out more info, check out the camp’s webpage

Maps101 – The problem with commercial education websites

I was looking up some domain names to register (I always look, but only own 2 domains) and thought of When I found it was taken I had to go see what great site had grabbed up that morsel of education goodness. I was definitely disappointed by what I found.

The URL forwarded me to, another great domain name sure, but a login blocked web site that tauts that they are “The online learning program for teachers, librarians, students and parents, featuring thousands of maps, classroom activities, educational quizzes and more”. Unfortunately I will never know if this is true since there is not a single piece of information that can be accessed without logging in…other than subscription information that is.

With so many web companies realizing that in order to better monetize their products they have to loosen the reigns a little you would think more companies would take note. If you are an education oriented website with thousands of items, couldn’t you put a few out for people who stumble by to take a look? Even the Discovery Channel’s new education service/website (the name is escaping me) offers a few samples to get you hooked before you plunk down the cash to join. I am not suggesting that shouldn’t pay a few salaries, just provide a little content to help educate the masses AND lure the interested in for more.

Either way, if you are at an institution that has Maps101, leave a comment or send us a review to post so that we can know what it is like in the inner sanctum.

I should point out that they do mention a Free Trial option. But come on, we are on the web, who has the attention span to sign up for a free trial that doesn’t pop-up right away.

Maps101 — Social Studies, Geography, History, Lesson Plans, Online Education, K-12, Maps101, Geography in the News

MapPros! geospatial careers website

Adena over at AllPoints Blog posted about MapPros! this morning, and I also think it’s a great idea. I especially like the profile of people actually working with geospatial technologies, and I hope they are able to expand these sections in the future. You should definitely check this site out, and I think I am going to forward the link to all of our faculty and advanced students.

Phase I report on Geospatial Workforce available for comment

GITA and AAG have completed their Phase I report, entitled “Defining and Communicating Geospatial Industry Workforce Demand”, as part of the Department of Labor grant on the geospatial workforce. It is available for viewing and download at the AAG website at

They are actively seeking comments, and I think that all of us who are involved in GIS and geospatial technologies should at least take a look at the report, and offer up comments if possible.

Research Channel and GeoInformation

The Research Channel is network that shows presentations on the latest research and technologies from throughout the sciences and humanities, many of which they make available online as well. If you head to the Research Channel website and do a search for geospatial or similar terms you will see the presentations they have featured. BTW if you have DishNetwork head to channel 9400 to check out the Research Channel, I don’t know the channel number for other providers, sorry ;-).

Yet Another Study Demonstrates young Americans’ Geography Illiteracy

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study was just released, with more sad news about young Americans’ (aged 18-24) lack of even basic geography skills like reading a map. Only 50% or less of the surveyed people could identify New York or Ohio on a map, and 88 percent couldn’t find Afghanistan, and about 60% couldn’t find Iraq. Those kind of statistics go on and on, but here’s what I think is the really disappointing stat that was quoted in the news article: “Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14% believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.” At the rate that globalization is changing the world, an attitude that only America matters or, more specifically, “my backyard” (considering a lot of the survey respondents couldn’t even identify other US states), just isn’t going to cut it. As someone who in theory is pursuing a PhD in Geography so I can teach others, I have to say it’s really depressing, but the real issue will be to try to figure out how to reverse the trend.


National Geographic Bee state winners

The state finals of the National Geographic Bee were completed last Friday, and each state winner will now travel to Washington, DC for the national finals. The winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship, the second place finisher a $15,000 scholarship and third place a $10,000 scholarship. The winner for each state is listed at the end of the National Geographic News announcement.

Good Luck to all the winners!