“GeoForAll” Lab of the Month – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi , USA

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of GeoForAll and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation let me take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very Happy New Year 2017 [1] and a successful year ahead. It is also my great pleasure, to introduce our colleagues at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi , USA as our “GeoForAll” lab of this month in the New Year.

The Spatial {Query} Lab [2] at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi [3] has a mission of making spatial technology, education, and information accessible to everyone. A large part of meeting this mission is the continued development and maintenance of the GeoAcademy curriculum (http://spatialquerylab.com/foss4g-academy-curriculum/).

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Richard Smith (Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of GISc/GSEN) said “Over the past several months, we have been working to update the labs to match the latest versions of QGIS, GRASS, and Inkscape, as well as releasing related lecture materials. Combined, the GeoAcademy curriculum offers five college-level courses of content, all Creative Commons licensed and freely available to all who wish to use it. As an example of recent use, the GeoAcademy curriculum is being used as the inaugural curriculum for the UN Open GIS Initiative where we are currently teaching our third cohort of students and will be teaching the fourth and final cohort starting in December. Students at the Spatial {Query} Lab worked hard to get the curriculum updated to QGIS 2.14 for the course and are thrilled that their work is having an immediate benefit and being used by the UN Open GIS Initiative. The beauty of maintaining this type of open curriculum is seeing its adoption, use, and collaborations that are taking place. Another project we are working on at the Spatial {Query} Lab is our map scanning project (http://spatialquerylab.com/projects/map-scanning/) where we are scanning, cataloging, transcribing, and rectifying tens of thousands of historic maps from South Texas (we occasionally blog about interesting things we find as we scan them at: http://spatialquerylab.com/tag/find-of-the-week/).

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We will begin publishing this collection online to the public, for free, starting in Spring 2017. Something we are particularly proud of is the software we wrote to operationalize our scanning project, BandoCat, has been so useful to us, and, as we have demonstrated it to others, looks to be potentially useful for them, we are going to be open sourcing the BandoCat software beginning in Spring 2017 in the hopes that it can be useful to others who are looking at digitizing hard copy maps and documents.” Thank you Richard for these excellent updates from your lab. This is truly amazing work you and colleagues are doing…

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On behalf of the GeoForAll community, we thank Richard Smith and all colleagues the Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi , USA for their help and for their contributions to the GeoForAll initiative and look forward to working and building more collaborations with all interested on this education mission. We believe in empowering people with spatial decision making tools to help build a better society for all of humanity. Open principles in geoeducation (open educational resources, free and open software, open data, open standards etc) are key for  true empowerment of staff and students globally and making geospatial education and opportunities accessible to all . Access to quality education and opportunities is key for getting rid of extreme poverty and enabling broadly shared prosperity for all.

Millions of globally connected minds working together on the common mission of enabling Open Education opportunities for everyone will be key for making these developments possible. An idea whose time has come is the most powerful force in the universe, and the time for “Access to quality education opportunities for everyone” has arrived. We look forward to working and building collaborations with all interested in this education mission.

Happy Year of Open 2017 …

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Best wishes,

Suchith Anand

[1] http://opensourcegeospatial.icaci.org/2017/01/happy-year-of-open-2017/

[2] http://www.spatialquerylab.com

[3] http://gisc.tamucc.edu

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