GIS Modeling in Education:

Approaches and Materials for Instructors


GIS in the Rockies Conference

September 18, 2001, Denver, Colorado


     …is GIS technology ahead of education?




Presented by Joseph K. Berry


Berry& Associates, Fort Collins, Colorado    970-215-0825


SITUATION  Desktop mapping has gained popularity in many disciplines across campus.  The additional dimension of “where” has provided new approaches to data analysis and decision formulation.  However, instruction in grid-based processing has been limited.  Until recently, GIS software supporting surface modeling, geo-statistics and spatial analysis has been too expensive and too complex for all but advanced courses. The full-day workshop provides tutorial software, exercises/databases and teaching materials supporting an introductory course in GIS Modeling.


WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION  This intermediate level workshop presents the basic concepts, procedures and applications of GIS modeling with emphasis agriculture and  resource management.  The concepts presented are reinforced through several practical exercises.  The first portion of the workshop establishes the concept of “maps as data” by introducing the fundamentals of spatial statistics, with emphasis on the considerations and issues surrounding interpolation of point data.  These discussions are extended to surface modeling and mapped data analysis.  The next portion focuses on the analytical capabilities of GIS emphasizing grid-based spatial analysis techniques.  The discussion focuses on individual operations, such as shape/pattern indices, effective distance, optimal path connectivity, visual exposure and roving windows that are used in modeling spatial relationships.  These discussions are extended to GIS modeling procedures required in constructing sound application models and the future directions of GIS technology.  Participants receive an evaluation copy of the MapCalc Learner CD consisting of tutorial versions of Surfer ( for surface modeling and MapCalc ( for spatial statistics, analysis and modeling, plus a basic set of exercises/databases and numerous application scenarios for use in course development.


WHO SHOULD ATTEND  Agriculture and Natural Resource educators who are currently involved in the development of academic programs in spatial  data and modeling.  This is an intermediate level workshop and prior GIS experience and familiarity with basic statistical concepts are recommended.




·        Topic #1 —Maps as Data establishes the fundamental concepts and procedures of spatial interpolation and surface analysis within a general “map-ematical” framework. Uses Surfer tutorial system to demonstrate several exercises in surface modeling.   Introduction; Similarities and differences between vector and grid-based processing; Spatial interpolation;  Grid math.


·        Topic #2 —Map Analysis Capabilities discusses individual spatial analysis operations, emphasizing, such as shape/pattern indices, effective distance, optimal path connectivity, visual exposure, and roving windows.  Uses MapCalc tutorial system to demonstrate several exercises in Reclassify and overlay operations; Distance and connectivity operations; Neighborhood operations.


·         Topic #3 —Spatial Modeling describes procedures involved in constructing sound application models.  Uses the MapCalc tutorial system to demonstrate several exercises in GISD Modeling.  Spatial reasoning; Flowcharting model logic; Presentation graphics; Import/export.





Dr. Joseph K. Berry is president of Berry and Associates // Spatial Information Systems, consultants and software developers in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.  He also serves as Special Projects Manager for Red Hen Systems and is the Keck Scholar at the University of Denver.  He is the author of the Beyond Mapping column for GIS World, the column Inside the GIS Toolbox for ag/Innovator and has written over two hundred papers on the analytic capabilities of GIS.  He is the author of the popular books Beyond Mapping and Spatial Reasoning and is involved in the development of Red Hen’s MapCalc software system for grid-based map analysis.  He holds a B.S. degree in Forestry, a M.B.A. emphasizing operations research and finance, and a Ph.D. in remote sensing and land use planning.  See for a description of activities.





The MapCalc educational system comes in two forms—the MapCalc Learner package for students and the MapCalc Academic for instructors.  The Learner CD contains the MapCalc and Surfer tutorial systems, exercises/databases, application demos and two online text—Map Analysis, a compilation of Dr. Berry’s “Beyond Mapping” column in GEOWorld.  The MapCalc software by Red Hen Systems has extensive capabilities in spatial analysis and statistics.  The Surfer software by Golden Software provides extended capabilities in surface modeling and 3-D graphics.  The MapCalc tutorial version is constrained to a 100x100 grid configuration (10,00 grid cells) and some of Surfer’s output features are constrained in the tutorial version.  Both software systems have data exchange tools and accept data for creating your own databases.


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