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


Course: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Professor: Michael Carson
Format: Hybrid
  • GIS Fundamentals, 5th ed., Paul Bolstad, XanEdu, 2016, ISBN 9781506695877
  • The GIS 20: Essential Skills, 3rd ed., Gina Clemmer, ESRI Press, 2018, Paperback: ISBN 9781589485129 or eBook: 9781589485136

Hi Prospective GIS 101 Students,

I am Michael Carson and will be your instructor for Introduction to Geographic Information Systems in the Spring 2020 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.

This course is offered as a hybrid course, which means we will meet in person on campus once a week for 16 weeks for our GIS lab and some lectures, as well as online using our class Canvas site for discussion, 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.

You will need to purchase two books:

  • GIS Fundamentals, 5th ed., Paul Bolstad, XanEdu, 2016, ISBN 9781506695877
  • The GIS 20: Essential Skills, 3rd ed., Gina Clemmer, ESRI Press, 2018, Paperback: ISBN 9781589485129 or eBook: 9781589485136

Note you can get the 3rd edition of The GIS 20 in either paperback or ebook versions. If you get the eBook version, it does not come with a 180 day trail of ArcGIS software. You will need to talk with me about an alternative way of obtaining the software. Also note there is a 6th edition of the GIS Fundamentals book, but we will be using the older 5th edition, so make sure you get the right one. You can purchase the lecture and lab books from the campus book store or 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 GIS Fundamentals book and the introduction from The GIS 20 before the first week.

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 during the lab on campus and at home if needed
  8. Turn in your lab assignments when due

Keep in mind that taking an online/hybrid course will take up more of your time than a traditional inperson class, so make sure you allocate enough time each week for your studies. Also, since this class has a 3 hour lab each week, you will have time to complete your lab exercises during that time. However, if you are new to GIS, I would recommend you installing the software on a Windows computer at home so you can also work on your lab assignments if you need that extra time to do so. Your lab book has links to where you can download a free limited time copy of the software. 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!

Your lab work will require you to save your exercises and turn them in when they are due. I strongly recommend you purchase a USB flash drive with at least 4 GB of capacity for saving work and transferring between lab computers and your personal computer at home. It can also function as a backup of your work. You should also have access to Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint or OpenOffice Write/Calc/Impress for use with your labs, reports, and presentations.

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.

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 GIS Fundamentals book and the introduction in your lab book as well as look over the first few lab exercises. 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 on campus lab 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