Education Committee Work Program

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This next year I think we as a group should focus on one main effort -- trying to develop suggested educational curriculum built around open source geospatial technologies. We've inventoried educational material, but the next step is to put some structure around it rather than being simply a database of material.

In an earlier email, Tyler Mitchell articulated these set of steps which I think are quite helpful:

Task 1. Review existing GIS curriculum.

The question I have here, is are there variations in curriculum depending on the area? For example, I could see there being differences in a curriculum for someone wanting to be a future developer of OS geo technologies, compared to people who might be users. In other words, is there 1 curriculum we want to develop or multiple?

In an email to me, William Walter Kinghorn suggested that what we should do is develop a Table of Contents that is required for exams for "core competencies" in OS GIS. He sent some useful and interesting ideas. William also noted that in our current inventory there are too many courses (I'm not sure that is a problem) but many are outdated. He was suggesting that we try and focus on a set of common courses that get updated regularly that many could use.

So I think we need to get a number of us to take some time looking for curriculum approaches or guidelines, and then hold a skype conference call or IRB or something to see if we can agree on a strategy.

Ultimately we would be trying to identify existing curriculum guidelines that exist, and try and utilize one or several of these structures and then map or develop new content such that labs and exercises use OS Geo technologies.

Task 2. Develop a grant proposal to support a face-to-face workshop that allows us to discuss various curricula and jumpstarts the collection and development of course materials.

Tyler and I tried to do something through the Mellon Foundation but they dropped the program after proposals were submitted. Ian Turton (Penn State) suggested NSF. I've contacted one program officer I know about this, but he said one problem is they don't tend to fund international workshops. But I'm not giving up -- I'm still looking. If others in EU countries or elsewhere have ideas on grant funding from EU sources for such a workshop please let me know -- I think we could make some serious progress if we held a face to face conference on this and got funds to bring people to it.

Task 3. With a curriculum plan identified, copy the structures from existing curricula as appropriate (hopefully verbatim so educators can tie directly back)

Task 4. Identify holes that we'd need to fill (hopefully only a few)

Task 5. Collate or create material from our educational database and through our community for each section.

Task 6. Bundle it all up, etc...


TASK A: Collect educational material to go on an OSGeo Live DVD

Identify educational material to accompany a DVD related to the use of OSGeo software.

Tim Bowen (the person who is organizing next year's FOSS4Geo conference in Sydney) is working to develop such a DVD for Ubuntu (building on the work of the Ominiverde DVD). Someone else might be developing one for Windows. The wiki page on this project is

It would make sense that we package up some good tutorials to go one these DVDs. The idea might be that for each associated OSGeo software project, we identify two or three good sets of tutorials that can be licensed with a Creative Commons license.

So we need to come up with some process to identify 2-3 high quality tutorials for various software packages. We should also inventory tutorials that might exist that are written by the software groups?

TASK B: Move our educational material listed in our inventory page to our subversion repository to support a “new derivative works” system.

We should be proud of the content we have inventoried on the wiki inventory page. But there is a lot of material in there, and I think we really need to try and move what we can to a content management system (subversion) where we could move to a “new derivative” system. What I am thinking is mimicking open source projects where the author who developed the material is the “maintainer” of their content. If someone else wants to derive a new version of it, they need to contact the author.

But two obvious situations could occur:

a- where the tutorial reflects an older version of the software and needs to be updated for a new release; b- where someone wishes to translate the tutorial into another language.

I am going individually start asking people who have tutorials on our inventory whether they are willing to do this and when they might be able to move their material to subversion.

Note: One important issue we will need to address is the licensing of this tutorial. Storing tutorial content on the subversion system raises new issues related to ensuring no copyrights are broken.

TASK C: Support Victor Olaya (and colleague's) FreeGIS book effort

The wiki page is here: They have over 500 pages of text written. Victor was going to prioritize chapters needing to be written. Two types of assistance are needed:

a) People could help write the new chapters in English and he or someone on his team could translate them to Spanish.

  • Team members: Landon Blake

b) Help is needed to translate the Spanish chapters already written into English.

TASK D: Contact local OSGeo chapters – recruit – how can they help?

At FOSS4Geo 2008 there was a sizable list of OSGeo local chapters. Many of them were doing work related to translation of OSGeo wiki pages and other related efforts. We should systematically contact the leaders of these groups, and encourage them to have at least 1 representative on our list, and see if anyone is willing to translate any of our tutorials into their native languages. Spanish speaking local chapters should be encouraged to help translate the FreeGIS book chapters.

Task E: Data inventory for educational purposes

There was several discussions at FOSS4Geo about inventorying free data, so that people using tutorials could find data more relevant to their particular region. Could we try to do a “data inventory” page like we did in 2007-08 for the educational inventory page?

Task F: Develop recommended “template” for tutorial structure?

Related to the above, in one of our BOF meetings, the request was made that tutorials we develop be written in such a way that it wasn't data or location specific. That is, that instead of requiring the user to use data from one part of the world, the user could get the required dataset for their own particular region of the world, thus making it more interesting and useful to the students.

The idea I had here is that we come up with a suggested structure for any OSGeo-related tutorials where all figures with data in them are shown as Appendices, so that someone

Task G: Grant proposal to foundations?

In the OSGeo Annual General Meeting, there was a discussion about selling OSGeo to companies to get financial support for them. Given the potential utility of OSGeo-related technologies for the developing world and the free and open access nature of what we are doing, my thought was there probably is non-profit foundations who might help support OSGeo and in particular, our educational efforts. The global network we have established and our proven ability to work together gives us some real potential and strength, I think.

Should we try as a group to write a generic proposal for funding that we could then shop around to some foundations?

Task H: GIS Curriculum guidelines?

Our group's name in OSGeo is actually the “Education and Curriculum” group.

In a BOF meeting with participants from South Africa, there was an interest in inventorying GIS curriculum guidelines for various levels of GIS education. The South African participants were saying they had made a lot of progress in this regard that they would be willing to share. Another participant noted that there were a number of groups who have already developed GIS curriculum guidelines (e.g., NCGIA).

In short, the question is whether we want to move in this direction this year. After some contemplation on this, my thought was we don't want to compete with other curriculum guideline groups. But we could develop an inventory page on our wiki of various curriculum guidelines that groups worldwide have developed.

Task I: Multi-language OSGeo dictionary

We propose the idea of a Multi-language OSGeo dictionary. The scope is to collect over the years geo* related terms in a multi-language style to facilitate reading/writing in other languages, to help with software internationalization, to help when writing proposals in non-mother-tongue languages. Since we are an excellent group of experts covering many languages, we could run this as long-term project.

We could use the Wiktionary software ( and keep it running. Possibly an OSGeo hacker could also fetch translations from Wikipedia from a handcrafted terms collection of terms to populate an initial dictionary (using the box on the left side which references translations). Installation request sent to OSGeo-SAC on 2 Oct 2008.

Once a reasonable amount of terms is available, download should be enabled in Docbook or other formats. Page to better collect further suggestions: OSGeo Multilanguage Dictionary.

OLD 2007-2008 INITIATIVES (for archive's sake)


  1. Authors who have existing courses or are currently developing courses, please update or list your course (and modules, if possible) on the Educational_Content_Inventory. Our goal is to have a nicely updated page for the upcoming FOSS4Geo conference!
  2. Status: ongoing
  3. Subcommittee: Everyone with available content... PLEASE, EVERYONE UPDATE FOR YOUR CONTENT!!!


  1. Status: Completed. We now have a working Subversion system for our group, and an example of how to link modules from the above wiki inventory page to it (see available read-only modules. Authors are encouraged to upload modules to the Subversion system and link on the wiki page following this model.
  2. However, a new opportunity has arisen related to The initiative which requires group discussion.
  3. Subcommittee members: Charlie Schweik, Ned Horning, Maili Page


  1. Status: Work on the Spanish FGB seems to have slowed somewhat as authors tackle other tasks. I'd like to get moving on a (somewhat) independent effort on the English FGB. I had originally hoped to just plug my metadata chapter into a translated version of the Spanish FGB, but I don't know how practical this still is. I need to talk with the spanish team about it more. Whether the Spanish material is translated or not, I'd like to move ahead with a Docbook version of the English FGB. This will depend on some Docbook tool chain work and on resolution of some branding issues. - Landon Blake
    1. See mail from Jorge Sanz to Edu List as a brief abstract of the current situation for the Spanish FGB.
    2. Current needs for Spanish FGB: return to the activity, maybe changing goals to a more realistic ones and getting involved past or new authors. For example, splitting the book in smaller parts to publish on the journal and catch attention of the community, etc.
    3. Current needs for English FGB: Coordinate with Spanish FGB to see if translation of material is possible. Work on Docbook tool chain so new chapters can be written. Work at recruiting additional authors.
  2. Subcommittee members: Victor, can you list active people on this?
    1. Spanish FGB: At this time there is not any activity but recent authors:
      1. Víctor Olaya
      2. Lola Arteaga
      3. Miguel Luaces
      4. Jorge Sanz
  3. Links:
    1. Wiki front-page: Libro SIG
    2. SVN main folder:
    3. No-so-yet-updated PDF version of the book:


  1. This was proposed by Markus Neteler with several others supporting the idea
  2. Project working page is here: OSGeo_Multilanguage_Dictionary
  3. Subcommittee chair: The Sunburned Surveyor
  4. Status:
  5. Status Update: The OSGeo contains a "starter dictionary" to hold content while we wait for additional software. I would also like to start a docbook version of the dictionary. - Landon Blake


  1. See Edu Licensing and Logo Discussion
  2. Subcommittee: to be determined


  1. This was proposed by Gavin and involves others in OSGeo not just education group.
    1. Gavin's ideas: One-click installation for Linux, Windows or Mac; Integrated software stack so teachers and learners have to launch a minimal number of applications; Simplified and customised GUIs to lower the entry threshold (for teachers to teach curriculum requirements of GIS; for teachers to use GIS to teach geography and other subjects; for learners to use for hands-on work); Free, integrated global and local data package; excellent documentation; framework for local contributors to structure and contribute exercises, lessons, etc; central website for resources; possible advanced options for network deployment, more sophisticated users, 'computer studies' learners (i.e. developers), school web map services, etc. These are expanded in School_GIS_Use_Cases.
    2. Current individual efforts:
      1. The live DVD for the FOSS4G 2008 "Practical Introduction to GRASS and related software for beginners" Workshop to be presented in Cape Town is available. The DVD, developed by University of Trento Italy, is based on Kubuntu live with GRASS GIS 6.2.3 and GRASS GIS 6.4 (snapshot_2008_7_12), R 2.7.0 with GRASS support, QGIS 0.10 with GRASS plugin, PostgreSQL 8.3.8, PostGIS 1.3.3, pgAdminIII 1.8.2, pgagent 1.8.2 and other application. A GRASS tutorial in English and the workshop slides are included in this distribution. You can find more info here. Download:ISO image of the DVD warning the file weights about 4.0 Gb, md5sums here
      2. The Ubuntu-based Ominiverdi Desktop Livecd 2008.0 will be available soon, which includes GRASS, QGIS, PostgreSQL, PostGIS, GDal, Proj, R and Pgadmin. Also bundled an installation package for windows system ( with an help page showing up on Autorun); the idea is to put inside also packages for Mac, but doing this will mean moving from CD to DVD.
    3. Poseidon Linux including many of these apps, including GRASS, QGIS, Terraview and more. Also includes main desktop apps found in a normal distribution.
    4. There is another OSGeo subcommittee that looked into this in 2007 Distribution_Special_Interest_Groups. There are specialized GIS groups connected to Ubuntu, Debian and others listed on that page.
    5. Subcommittee chair: Any volunteers?
    6. Subcommittee members: Any takers to try and organize such an effort?
    7. Interested Parties:
      1. The Sunburned Surveyor (OpenJUMP and JTS Debian Packages)


  1. We've had ongoing back and forth discussions about whether some recommended standards regarding the format of education content should be established. Generally, our policy should be that we welcome educational material in ANY format that the author prefers to work in. However, at the same time, we might want to move toward developing some recommended standards, especially if we eventually move toward "official" OSGeo educational content.
  2. I've added a new wiki page to record our discussion of possible edu content format standards.


  1. Establish a wiki page with an initial inventory of available educational content and commitments for new material
    1. Deadline: October 31, 2007;
    2. Outcome: Completed with 16 entries listed on the Educational_Content_Inventory page.
    3. Commitments_for_New_Material_Development
  1. Investigate, vote on, and recommend a content management system for educational modules
    1. Deadline: October 31, 2007.
    2. Outcome: Task deferred and focus on develop tutorial using Wiki/Moodle strategy. We had a series of discussions on various approaches toward this over the group email list, but really reached no consensus. I (Charlie Schweik) concluded that given we have an existing wiki and also a Moodle site established, we should try to move toward establishing a recommended digital format and structure for future tutorials and where possible we try to convert old tutorials to this format (I intend to do so with my tutorials). For this reason, I took this item off the current to-do list.
    3. Subcommittee members: Ben Alden; Victor Olaya; Charlie Schweik; Scott Mitchell; Venka; Maria Brovelli; Rob Braswell
    4. Edu Content Management Platform Decision
    5. More detail: coming soon. But this task is for people to investigate various options that have been identified. These include (1) the Moodle example presented by Arnulf [1]; (2) the use of the wiki system (Tyler showed me some additional functionality after our BOF meeting); (3) Rice connexions [2]; (4) Encyclopedia of Earth; (4); (5) EduCommons. The group agreed that at this juncture we need to be inclusive and work with the needs of various content providers. So some material may be stored on an OSGeo platform with the capability for new derivative works, or it may just be links to external resources we are aware of. This subcommittee task is to figure out a recommended strategy within the next month (or less).
  1. Develop a suggested tutorial creation standard for group review
      1. Subcommittee members: Ned Horning (American Museum of Natural History), Charlie Schweik, Alexander Stepanov, Maili Page (UMass, Amherst)
      2. 1/18/2008 status: Our proposal (pdf) is here: Media:A_Proposal_for_OSGEO_Edu_Authoring_Summary.pdf. An example of one tutorial (pdf format, 845KB) built through this process is here: Media:db_foss_m1.pdf. (We intend to move the license and authorship information to the top in a next version).
      3. June, 2008. After working on this, it became clear that it is not in the best interest of the group to specify a standard -- different people may want to use different approaches (Latex, DocBook, Open Office, etc.) Through this task we came up with a DocBook process, which now has some documentation available if others want to use it, but we are not pushing for its use throughout our group.

Archived tasks because they either had no activity or were similar to others listed above DEVELOP OSGEO EDU COURSES? CURRENT TASKS:

  1. This was suggested by Venka, and he proposed two:
    1. Intro to OSGeo Desktop GIS Software and
    2. Introduction to OSGeo Webmapping software.