Review: Coursera Fundamentals of GIS Class via UC Davis

I just wrapped up the Fundamentals of GIS class offered by UC Davis on Coursera.  I already had a grasp on the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) information offered in the class, but it comes with a free one year license to use ArcGIS and it also teaches you how to use it.  It is also part of a five-course sequence that, if you complete it, offers a certificate in GIS.
One of the most interesting things, to me, is that programming is becoming a bigger and bigger part of GIS – presenting the information to people over the web.  ArcGIS even has a JavaScript API that you can use to accomplish this.  In FreeCodeCamp, I’ll eventually be learning visualization using D3.js and other technologies, and I see this as one more item in my toolbox.  The fact that I’ve always loved maps doesn’t hurt, either!
This first class was pretty basic – teaching, for example, what projections are, a little about thinking spatially, and various other concepts related to GIS.  It also began to teach how to use ArcGIS, such as pulling in map layers, looking at the tables that actually store the data attached to features on the map, and how to package it up and present it on the web.
For the final project, we had to construct a map, package it, and make it available by pdf and on the web.  What we did was take a map of California, add the counties, and then look at the data for voting on an environmental issue.  We had the data on the total who voted – yes or no, and also on how many voted in favor.  The idea is to present the proportion of yes votes to total votes, and put it in a format that is easy to read.  More basic are the requirements to add such typical map elements as a legend and a North indicator.  My map is below; you can also view it online at the ArcGIS website here.
This was a fun course and I learned a lot.  I’m looking forward to the next class in the sequence, GIS Data Formats, Design and Quality, which begins July 25.

One thought on “Review: Coursera Fundamentals of GIS Class via UC Davis

  1. Hi! Thanks for the kind review – I’m glad you liked the course. A coworker of mine pointed me to this post since she found it while doing some other research. This first course gets everyone on the same page, but I really love the second and third courses – hopefully they’ll teach you a bunch of new stuff and be interesting and fun! Enjoy.

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