An eLearning Portal to Teach Geographic Information Sciences

An eLearning Portal to Teach Geographic Information Sciences

S. Grunwald (University of Florida, USA), B. Hoover (University of Florida, USA) and G.L. Bruland (University of Hawai‘i Manoa, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-342-5.ch018
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In this chapter the authors describe the implementation of an emerging virtual learning environment to teach GIS and spatial sciences to distance education graduate students. They discuss the benefits and constraints of our mixed architecture with the main focus on the innovative hybrid architecture of the virtual GIS computer laboratory. Criteria that were used to develop the virtual learning environment entailed the following: (i) Facilitating student-instructor, student-computer, and student-student interactivity using a mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools; (ii) Developing an interactive online learning environment in which students have access to a suite of passive and active multi-media tools; and (iii) Allowing student access to a mixed web-facilitated / hybrid architecture that stimulates their cognitive geographic skills and provides hands-on experience in using GIS.
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Geographic information systems (GIS) are a rapidly evolving technology that is integrated in mainstream undergraduate and graduate curricula. Spatial sciences and GIS are multidisciplinary in nature and have important relevance beyond their traditional disciplinary homes. Currently, spatial sciences and GIS courses are offered through geography, civil engineering, geomatics, soil, water and environmental science and other programs. A GIS is a computer-based system for managing, storing, analyzing, and presenting spatial data. GIS have three important components – computer hardware, sets of application software modules, and a proper organizational context including skilled people (Burrough and McDonnell, 1998). As such, the GIS curriculum is particularly suited to the development of innovative learning models adaptable to students from different disciplinary backgrounds. GIS courses and programs are also ideally suited to use novel technologies as the discipline itself is technologically enabled, or even technologically driven. Zerger et al. (2002) pointed out that it is important to infuse spatial science theory with practical examples / assignments and projects to optimize learning outcomes. Thus, transforming on-campus GIS courses into a virtual learning environment requires maintaining both lecture and lab components. Spatial sciences aim to stimulate cognitive geographic thinking skills that involve solving geospatial problems, to comprehend and integrate huge amounts of geospatial data, and to facilitate understanding of both large-scale and small-scale geographic features of ecosystems. These cognitive geographic skills are a prerequisite to understanding the underlying mechanisms for spatially-explicit modeling using GIS software. Hands-on GIS assignments and projects facilitate student learning about GIS functionality and help them build their own spatial models.

Distance education courses and programs have adopted a variety of multimedia and Internet technologies. Recent changes in information technology have challenged instructors not only in terms of what they teach, but also which technology they use to teach. The proliferation of web-based and interactive multimedia technologies that are used to teach spatial sciences has transformed numerous on-campus courses into web-facilitated, hybrid (blended) and distance education courses. Hybrid courses mix traditional face-to-face instruction with a substantial portion that is delivered online. Virtual learning environments are diverse, ranging from simple web-pages to complex hard- and software solutions. A virtual learning environment is a set of teaching and learning tools designed to enhance a student’s learning experience by including computers and the Internet in the learning process. Criteria to distinguish virtual learning environments include: (i) delivery type - audio, video-based systems (e.g. Power Point slides, videoclips, compressed interactive video, virtual reality worlds, and others); (ii) delivery media (e.g. books, journal articles, CD, DVD, Internet); (iii) communication type (synchronous and asynchronous) and student involvement – (active and passive); (iv) level of abstraction – content (e.g. text, maps, 3D models, 4D simulations, interactive virtual models); (v) presence of the instructor (e.g. availability and accessibility of instructor by students); (vi) level of interactivity between students, instructor and computerized entities (student-student-, student-, student-instructor-, instructor-, and student-computer centered); and (vii) user access (local e.g. physical lab or field trip that requires the presence of a student at a particular geographic place or remote e.g. Internet-based access or simulated/emulated equipment and instruments). Virtual environments present a multimedia library of shapes, landscapes and sounds that establish a system for construction and symbolic transformation. The virtual environment as projective construction provides an opportunity for participants to collaborate in a variety of multisensory interactions: visual-spatial, audio-spatial, and kinesthetic.

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Associate Editors
Table of Contents
Mahbubur Rahman Syed
Mahbubur Rahman Syed
Chapter 1
Hiroshi Takeda, Hisashi Yaginuma, Hajime Kiyohara, Akira Tokuyasu, Masami Iwatsuki, Norio Takeuchi, Hisato Kobayashi, Kazuo Yana
This article describes a new automatic digital content generation system we have developed. Recently some universities, including Hosei University... Sample PDF
Automatic Digital Content Generation System for Real-Time Distance Lectures
Chapter 2
Filomena Ferrucci, Giuseppe Scanniello, Genoveffa Tortora
In this chapter the authors present E-World, an e-learning platform able to manage and trace adaptive learning processes which are designed and... Sample PDF
E-World: A Platform for the Management of Adaptive E-Learning Processes
Chapter 3
Judy C.R. Tseng, Wen-Ling Tsai, Gwo-Jen Hwang, Po-Han Wu
In developing traditional learning materials, quality is the key issue to be considered. However, for high technical e-training courses, not only... Sample PDF
An Efficient and Effective Approach to Developing Engineering E-Training Courses
Chapter 4
Te-Hua Wang, Flora Chia-I Chang
The sharable content object reference model (SCORM) includes a representation of distance learning contents and a behavior definition of how users... Sample PDF
A SCORM Compliant Courseware Authoring Tool for Supporting Pervasive Learning
Chapter 5
WenYing Guo
Selecting appropriate learning services for a learner from a large number of heterogeneous knowledge sources is a complex and challenging task. This... Sample PDF
An Ontology-Based e-Learning Scenario
Chapter 6
Dan Phung, Giuseppe Valetto, Gail E. Kaiser, Tiecheng Liu, John R. Kender
The increasing popularity of online courses has highlighted the need for collaborative learning tools for student groups. In this article, we... Sample PDF
Adaptive Synchronization of Semantically Compressed Instructional Videos for Collaborative Distance Learning
Chapter 7
Jing Chen, Qing Li, Ling Feng
The abundance of knowledge-rich information on the World Wide Web makes compiling an online etextbook both possible and necessary. In our previous... Sample PDF
Refining the Results of Automatic e-Textbook Construction by Clustering
Chapter 8
Yueting Zhuang, Xiafen Zhang, Weiming Lu, Fei Wu
Chinese brush calligraphy is a valuable civilization legacy and a high art of scholarship. It is still popular in Chinese banners, newspaper... Sample PDF
Chinese Brush Calligraphy Character Retrieval and Learning
Chapter 9
William K. Cheung, Anders I. Mørch, Kelvin C. Wong, Cynthia Lee, Jiming Liu, Mason H. Lam
In this article we investigate the use of latent semantic analysis (LSA), critiquing systems, and knowledge building to support computer-based... Sample PDF
Grounding Collaborative Learning in Semantics-Based Critiquing
Chapter 10
Giuliana Dettori, Paola Forcheri, Maria Grazia Ierardi
Learning Objects (LOs) are increasingly considered potentially helpful to improve teachers’ work and to spread innovation in the school system.... Sample PDF
Improving the Usefulness of Learning Objects by Means of Pedagogy-Oriented Design
Chapter 11
Frederick W.B. Li, Rynson W.H. Lau, Taku Komura, Meng Wang, Becky Siu
Human motion animation has been one of the major research topics in the field of computer graphics for decades. Techniques developed in this area... Sample PDF
Adaptive Animation of Human Motion for E-Learning Applications
Chapter 12
Gennaro Costagliola, Vittorio Fuccella
On-Line Testing is that sector of e-learning aimed at assessing learner’s knowledge through e-learning means. In on-line testing, due to the... Sample PDF
eWorkbook: An On-Line Testing System with Test Visualization Functionalities
Chapter 13
Brian Stewart, Derek Briton, Mike Gismondi, Bob Heller, Dietmar Kennepohl, Rory McGreal, Christine Nelson
Athabasca University—Canada’s Open University evaluated learning management systems (LMS) for use by the university. Evaluative criteria were... Sample PDF
Choosing MOODLE: An Evaluation of Learning Management Systems at Athabasca
Chapter 14
Damien Clark, Penny Baillie-de Byl
Computer aided assessment is a common approach used by educational institutions. The benefits range into the design of teaching, learning, and... Sample PDF
Enhancing the IMS QTI to Better Support Computer Assisted Marking
Chapter 15
Ali Dashti, Maytham Safar
Distance education created new challenges regarding the delivery of large size isochronous continuous streaming media (SM) objects. In this paper... Sample PDF
Streaming of Continuous Media for Distance Education Systems
Chapter 16
Manjulika Srivastava, Venugopal Reddy
The question why some learners successfully study through distance mode and others do not is increasingly becoming important as open and distance... Sample PDF
How Did They Study at a Distance? Experiences of IGNOU Graduates
Chapter 17
Gwo-Jen Hwang, Ting-Ting Wu, Yen-Jung Chen
The prosperous development of wireless communication and sensor technologies has attracted the attention of researchers from both computer and... Sample PDF
Ubiquitous Computing Technologies in Education
Chapter 18
S. Grunwald, B. Hoover, G.L. Bruland
In this chapter the authors describe the implementation of an emerging virtual learning environment to teach GIS and spatial sciences to distance... Sample PDF
An eLearning Portal to Teach Geographic Information Sciences
Chapter 19
Maria Manuela Cunha, Goran D. Putnik
Individualised open and distance learning at the university continuing education and post-graduate education levels is a central issue of today. The... Sample PDF
A Changed Economy with Unchanged Universities? A Contribution to the University of the Future
Chapter 20
Richard Y.D. Xu, Jesse S. Jin
This article presents a schematic application of computer vision technologies to e-learning that is synchronous, peer-to-peer-based, and supports an... Sample PDF
Rationale, Design and Implementation of a Computer Vision-Based Interactive E-Learning System
Chapter 21
Dorothée Rasseneur-Coffinet, Georgia Smyrniou, Pierre Tchounikine
This article presents an approach and tools that can help learners appropriate a Web-based learning curriculum and become active participants in... Sample PDF
Supporting Learners' Appropriation of a Web-Based Learning Curriculum
Chapter 22
Gwo-Jen Hwang, Hsiang Cheng, Carol H.C. Chu, Judy C.R. Tseng, Gwo-Haur Hwang
In the past decades, English learning has received lots of attention all over the world, especially for those who are not native English speakers.... Sample PDF
Development of a Web-Based System for Diagnosing Student Learning Problems on English Tenses
Chapter 23
Chi-Syan Lin, C. Candace Chou, Ming-Shiou Kuo
The paper outlines a new paradigm and its underlying rationales for implementing networked learning environments that is emerging from new... Sample PDF
Inhabited Virtual Learning Worlds and Impacts on Learning Behaviors in Young School Learners
Chapter 24
Rory McGreal, Terry Anderson
Any view of e-learning in Canada must be informed by the uniquely Canadian feature of provincial jurisdiction over education. Therefore any... Sample PDF
Research and Practice of E-Learning in Canada 2008
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