Introduction to GIScience Online Course

In this course, you will explore the concepts, principles, and practices of acquiring, storing, analyzing, displaying, and using geospatial data. Additionally, you will investigate the science behind geographic information systems and the techniques and methods GIS scientists and professionals use to answer questions with a spatial component. In the lab section, you will become proficient with the ArcGIS Pro software package.

This course will prepare you to take more advanced geospatial science courses.

You will be asked to work through a series of modules that present information relating to a specific topic. You will also complete a series of lab exercises, assignments, and less guided challenges. Please see the Sequencing and Resources section for our suggestions as to the order in which to work through the material.

The questions embedded in the lectures are simply to help reenforce the topics. They will not be graded. We have provided note handouts and transcipts of the lecture material in the Sequencing and Resources section.

This course makes use of the ArcGIS Pro software package from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). Directions for installing the software have been provided under the Sequencing and Resources section. If you are not a West Virginia University student, you can still complete the labs but you will need to obtain access to the software on your own.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us. We hope to continue to update and improve this course.

If you would like an introductory text on GIS and GIScience, I would suggest GIS Fundamentals: A First Text on Geographic Information Systems by Bolstad or Introduction to Geographic Information Systems by Chang. Both are great texts.

This course was produced by West Virginia View ( with support from AmericaView ( This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Geological Survey under Grant/Cooperative Agreement No. G18AP00077. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Geological Survey. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Geological Survey.

After completing this course you will be able to:

  1. describe how computers store spatial data using the vector and raster data structures.
  2. find geospatial data using the web.
  3. design map layouts and simple web apps to communicate your data and findings.
  4. describe uncertainty associated with data and assess the suitability of data for a specific task.
  5. use a variety of data, methods, and software tools to address a question with a spatial component.
  6. assess the suitability of specific spatial analysis techniques for addressing a spatial problem.
  7. produce spatial models using ArcGIS Model Builder and weighted overlay techniques.
  8. use the ArcGIS software package and have gained enough knowledge with the use of this software tool to further your knowledge of its use independently.

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Last Updated November 2, 2021, 16:56 (UTC)
Created November 2, 2021, 16:47 (UTC)