Penn State opens mapping course on FutureLearn MOOC platform

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s massive open online course “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution” opened May 8 on FutureLearn, the United Kingdom’s leading MOOC platform.

FutureLearn announced the addition of Penn State to its partner portfolio earlier this year. Penn State launched its first MOOC course, “Energy, the Environment and our Future,” on FutureLearn in April 2017.

“Maps and the Geospatial Revolution” is aimed at those with an interest in digital mapmaking and spatial analysis. Students do not need prior mapmaking experience and will use free web mapping tools to make maps that tell stories about data.

“It is easier than ever to make maps, share them with your friends, and learn about how the social and environmental challenges we face can be approached through the lens of geographical thinking and technology,” said Anthony Robinson, author of the mapping course and assistant professor of geography at Penn State. “This course shows you how to make maps that matter and introduces the core concepts and technologies that drive the geospatial industry today.”

With the growth of new methods to understand and use location information, there are many GPS tools, interactive web maps and location-aware mobile devices available at consumers’ fingertips. This course explores the science of geography, using real-world examples to introduce key concepts in cartography, geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial thinking.

During the course, learners will explore what it means to think spatially by considering the impacts of scale and time on challenges that face people and the environment. They will then examine the key elements of spatial datasets, learn how today’s geographers solve problems using spatial analysis techniques, and finally look at the key elements of effective cartographic design.

By the end of the course, learners will be able to:

  • Practice the art and science of mapmaking using interactive web maps
  • Explain the Geospatial Revolution and its impact on the science of geography
  • Practice thinking spatially to solve geographic problems in environmental, social and technical domains
  • Understand how spatial data is created
  • Apply spatial analysis techniques using interactive web maps
  • Explain the key elements of effective cartographic design

“Geographic information is a huge phenomenon to explore; it’s all around us and impacts the way we do things on a daily basis and the way we share information with the rest of the world,” said Nigel Smith, head of content at FutureLearn. We’re really excited to be working with Penn State, collaborating to improve access into higher education and advance understanding in such engaging and relevant topics.”

The course can be taken for free, or there is the option to upgrade for additional benefits, such as a certificate of completion.

Visit the FutureLearn website to register for the course.

Last Updated May 31, 2017