While the theory and implementation of geographic information systems (GIS) have a history of more than 50 years, the development of dedicated educational tools and applications in this field is more recent. This paper presents a free and open source software (FOSS) approach for education in the geospatial disciplines, which has been used over the last 20 years at two Italian universities. The motivations behind the choice of FOSS are discussed with respect to software availability and development, as well as educational material licensing. Following this philosophy, a wide range of educational tools have been developed, covering topics from numerical cartography and GIS principles to the specifics regarding different systems for the management and analysis of spatial data. Various courses have been implemented for diverse recipients, ranging from professional training workshops to PhD courses. Feedback from the students of those courses provides an invaluable assessment of the effectiveness of the approach, supplying at the same time directions for further improvement. Finally, lessons learned after 20 years are discussed, highlighting how the management of educational materials can be difficult even with a very open approach to licensing. Overall, the use of free and open source software for geospatial (FOSS4G) science provides a clear advantage over other approaches, not only simplifying software and data management, but also ensuring that all of the information related to system design and implementation is available.

FOSS tools and applications for education in geospatial sciences

Federici, Bianca;Ferrando, Ilaria;Marzocchi, Roberto;Sguerso, Domenico;
2017

Abstract

While the theory and implementation of geographic information systems (GIS) have a history of more than 50 years, the development of dedicated educational tools and applications in this field is more recent. This paper presents a free and open source software (FOSS) approach for education in the geospatial disciplines, which has been used over the last 20 years at two Italian universities. The motivations behind the choice of FOSS are discussed with respect to software availability and development, as well as educational material licensing. Following this philosophy, a wide range of educational tools have been developed, covering topics from numerical cartography and GIS principles to the specifics regarding different systems for the management and analysis of spatial data. Various courses have been implemented for diverse recipients, ranging from professional training workshops to PhD courses. Feedback from the students of those courses provides an invaluable assessment of the effectiveness of the approach, supplying at the same time directions for further improvement. Finally, lessons learned after 20 years are discussed, highlighting how the management of educational materials can be difficult even with a very open approach to licensing. Overall, the use of free and open source software for geospatial (FOSS4G) science provides a clear advantage over other approaches, not only simplifying software and data management, but also ensuring that all of the information related to system design and implementation is available.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/888453
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