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GIS-101 - Introduction to Geographic Information Systems - Michael Carson

Course:Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Professor:Michael Carson
  • Online
  • OnlineLive
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Hi Prospective GIS 101 Students,

I am Michael Carson and will be your instructor for Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for the semester. This course will take you through learning about GIS, which includes spatial data collection/acquisition, data quality, data analysis, mapping and cartography, and learning how to use GIS software and web GIS options.

Course Description

This course will feature both OnlineLIVE and ONLINE deliveries. The OnlineLIVE portion will be conducted via Zoom during scheduled dates/times. The remainder of the class will be ONLINE via Canvas. If you are new to Canvas and Zoom, visit this student training guide.  We will meet online once a week for 16 weeks for our GIS lab and some lectures and discussions, as well as using our class Canvas site for assignments and tests. The course will be broken up into weekly modules in Canvas covering material from one or two chapters in your text book as well as associated lab exercises from your lab book. Some weeks will also include discussion board questions, quizzes, and readings to complete by deadlines posted in the syllabus.

What to Expect in this Course

To succeed in this class, I recommend that you complete the following in this order for each week's learning module:

  1. Read the assigned chapters

  2. Review the assigned chapter lecture presentation slides

  3. Post your answers to the discussion board questions

  4. Make sure to post your responses to other student's posts in the discussion board

  5. Review for the quiz when there is one posted for that week

  6. Take the quiz

  7. Work on your lab assignments

  8. Turn in your lab assignments when due

Keep in mind that taking an online course will take up more of your time than a traditional in-person class, so make sure you allocate enough time each week for your studies. Learning the GIS software will take up a considerable amount of your time, so make sure to budget your time with all your other activities. In order to achieve an A in the class expect to put in about 10 to 12 hours of work per week!

The GIS software requires that you have a Windows computer running Windows 10 or higher (Windows 11 recommended) with a minimum of 8GB of memory or higher (32GB or higher recommended). If you only have an Apple Mac with an Intel chip, you must install Windows 10 on it using Boot Camp Assistant (requires that you have Windows 10 install media and product key). If your Mac has an M1-3 chip, you must install Parallels Desktop first before installing Windows 10.  I only recommend getting a Windows laptop/desktop or there will be an option to use a lab computer on campus at The Learning Center.  Students that have tried using Apple computers have had difficulties with the software and slow performance issues.

Your lab work will require you to save your exercises and turn them in when they are due. You should also have access to Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint or OpenOffice Write/Calc/Impress for use with your labs, reports, and presentations.  As a student of College of the Canyons, you can use Microsoft Office Online for free on your personal computer.  If you are more into open-source software, download OpenOffice instead.

I expect students to have basic computer and quantitative skills. Competence with the Windows operating system is expected, including the storing, copying and management of multiple data types; managing multiple windows and applications; and techniques for saving work frequently. Students should be able to communicate to the instructor using the class Canvas site and electronic mail, and to access and search the Internet for data and information relevant to the course. Competence in creating compressed "zipped" files for lab exercise submission is also expected.

Types of Assessments

Lab exercises, written assignments, discussion board questions, quizzes, final exam

Textbook Information

You will need to purchase two books:

  • Essentials of Geographic Information Systems V3.0, Michael Shin, Jonathan Campbell, and Sierra Burkhart, FlatWorld, 2022, Paperback: ISBN 9781453337622, E-book: ISBN 9781453337639

  • GIS Tutorial for ArcGIS Pro 3.1, Wilpen Gorr & Kristen Kurland, ESRI Press, 2023, Paperback: ISBN 9781589487390, E-book: ISBN 9781589487406

Note you can get GIS Tutorial for ArcGIS Pro 3.1 in either paperback or E-book versions. Both come with a 180 day trial of ArcGIS software (note paperback version must be a US publication).  Should you get a used book, you will need to talk with me about an alternative way of obtaining the software. I highly recommend you get a new paperback version or E-book.  I also recommend you purchase Essentials of Geographic Information Systems V3.0 from the publisher FlatWorld since it comes with extra study materials.  You can also purchase the lecture and lab books from the campus book store or  For the E-book versions you can purchase them a day or two before the first week of class to maximize the number of days purchased, which would be 120 days for this 16 week course.  It is very important that you purchase these books as soon as possible so that you will have them for the first week of class. Get a head start on your reading and read chapter 1 from the Essentials of Geographic Information Systems book and look over the first few chapters in GIS Tutorial for ArcGIS Pro 3.1 before the first week.

Other Relevant Course Information

The GIS course's Canvas page will become available to you a few days before class starts. In the mean time I recommend reading the first chapter in your Essentials of Geographic Information Systems book and look over the first few chapters in your lab book. As soon as you have access to Canvas you are welcome to begin working on the first week's assignments on the Modules page. Also make sure to review the class syllabus on the Syllabus page for more detailed information on the class, class policies, what is expected of you, the tentative class schedule, grading, assignments, and test dates. We will go over the syllabus and software basics during the first online meeting.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at I am looking forward to meeting you during our first week of class. See you then!

Michael Carson
GIS Instructor
College of the Canyons

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


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Last updated: 01/30/2024 Sub#: 368