Geospatial Technology Education

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Geospatial technology is now a standard part of most forestry and natural resource operations. Geospatial hardware includes global positioning systems (GPS), digital measurement instruments, remote sensing platforms, and other digital devices. Geospatial software includes GIS, image processing, and other spatial analysis tools. Gaining and maintaining competency with technological tools is challenging given that technological advancements are ongoing and new tools and techniques are frequently being developed. The primary provider of forestry and natural resource geospatial education programs in the United States is the higher education system. In this article, we examine the perceived importance of geospatial skills in the workforce and summarize the geospatial course offerings of the top-ranked higher education forestry programs in North America. We also more closely examine how one forestry curriculum and home university provides geospatial technology instruction to undergraduate, professional certificate, and continuing education students. We also identify potential challenges that geospatial education programs may encounter and describe some technological developments that can make teaching activities more efficient for instructors and more accessible for students. We found that geospatial skills are currently in demand and that demand appears likely to increase in the future. In addition, geospatial technology coursework is required by the majority of the top forestry programs, and their associated universities also offer a variety of geospatial technology courses. Like many skills, competence with geospatial technology grows with practice. A logical hierarchy of classes builds with introduction to geospatial technology in the lower division classes with professional applications in the upper division classes.

Keywords: GIS; GPS; education; geospatial technology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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