Fall 2017 Introduction To Geographic Information Systems

You can solve spatial problems!


3 credits: 2 lectures, 1 computer lab per week

Lectures: Tuesday/Thursday, 9:45-11:15am Reichardt Building Room 202

Lab: Tuesday 2-5PM ONeill 359

or Weds 11:15AM-2:15PM ONeill 359

Instructor:  Dave Verbyla,  Professor, ONeill Building, Room 368

Phone: 474-5553 (but Email is much preferred instead of telephone tag!)

Email: dlverbyla@alaska.edu.

Dave's  Office Hours:  ONeill 368  Weds 10-11am or by email appointment..

Teaching Assistant: Jason Clark


Course Description:  This course is designed for geographers, wildlife biologists, fisheries biologists, ecologists, natural resource managers, geologists and field-oriented professionals who use spatial technologies in their jobs.  Spatial technogies are especially important in Alaska, where road-access is typically limited. Our emphasis in this course is on obtaining and using Alaskan geographic data.

I can provide you with a student-version of ArcGIS if you own a windows-based computer.

If you want, you can use your own computer during lab. Also you can work with a partner in lab. 


Welcome Video Clip

Course Objectives:

1) To learn how to solve spatial problems using GIS.

2) To understand basic concepts independent of any particular software.

3) To learn ArcMap GIS through hands-on computer lab exercises.

4) To learn how to download and used Alaskan geospatial data.

Grades Based on total points as follows:

·         12 blackboard-based quizzes (https://classes.alaska.edu/) 20 points each = 240 points

o    Quiz 1 Due Tuesday 12-Sept-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 2 Due Tuesday 26-Sept-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 3 Due Tuesday 3-Oct-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 4 Due Tuesday 10-Oct-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 5 Due Tuesday 17-Oct-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 6 Due Tuesday 24-Oct-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 7 Due Tuesday 31-Oct--2017 5pm

o    Quiz 8 Due Tuesday 7-Nov-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 9 Due Tuesday 14-Nov-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 10 Due Tuesday 21-Nov-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 11 Due Tuesday 28-Nov-2017 5pm

o    Quiz 12 Due Tuesday 5-Dec-2017 5pm

·         On-line Mid-Semester Exam= 100 points

·         On-line GIS Final Exam: 100 points

·         Class Participation: 100 points

·         Total points possible = 540 points

Final grades will be  based on total points earned in the course as follows:

> 485 total points = A

445 to 485 total points = B

400 to 444 points = C

350 to 399 total points = D

< 350 total points = F

Disability Services:  We will work  with the Office of Disabilities Services (203 WHIT, 474-7043)  to provide reasonable accommodation to to any student with a disability.

Please inform us the first week of class if you have a disability that we should be aware of.

Textbook:  None---weekly web site readings

Fall 2016 Schedule



Thursday's Spatial Problems


Aug 28 - 31

 Course Overview

Course Learning Map

Demo lab1



KEY Week1 Spatial Problems


Lab1:  Introduction to ArcGIS

Sept. 5-7


Five Dimensions of GIS:

  • Location
  • Distance
  • Measures
  • Depth
  • Time


KEY Week2 Spatial Problems


Lab2: Five Dimensions of GIS

Sept. 12-14


GIS Coordinates and Projections

Youtube lectures:

1) Geographic Coordinate Systems

2) Horizontal Datums

3) Alaska Albers NAD83 Coordiantes

4) UTM NAD83 Coordinates

5) Alaska State Plane NAD83 Coordinates


KEY:Week3 Spatial Problems


Lab 3: GIS Coordinate Systems and Projections

Sept. 19- 21 No Class or Lab this Week!

Sept. 26- 28


GIS Features(points,lines,polygons)

Youtube video sessions:

  1. Point Feature Classes in ArcGIS
  2. Polyline Feature Classes in ArcGIS
  3. Polygon Feature Classes in ArcGIS




KEY Week4 Spatial Problems


Lab 4: GIS Feature Data Formats

Oct. 3-5


GIS attribute tables

Youtube session:

1. Stand-alone tables in ArcGIS



KEY:Week5 GIS Tables Problems


Lab 5: Tabular Analysis

Oct. 10-12

Editing shapefile points, lines, polygons

 Youtube video sessions:

Arcmap hyperlinks

Editing points, lines, polygons



KEY: Week6 Editing GIS Problems


Lab 6: Editing Shapefiles

Oct. 17-17


Youtube video sessions:

  1. Geodatabase Containerin ArcGIS
  2. Range and Coded Domains
  3. Feature Dataset Topology



KEY: Week7 Geodatabase Problems


Lab 7: Geodatabases

Oct. 24 - 25

Example mid-semester exams


  GIS Exam Problems:




Mid-Semester Exam during lab


Oct. 31-Nov. 2

Raster Surprises

Elevation Rasters

Youtube lectures:

1) Processing Digital Elevation Models

2) Elevation Geoprocessing Analysis


KEY: Elevation Raster Problems


Lab 8: Elevation Rasters

Nov. 7-9

Georeferencing Rasters

Youtube video sessions:

  1. Georeferencing Model
  2. ArcMap Georeferencing Toolbar






KEY: Georefererencing Problems


Lab 9: Georeferencing Rasters

Nov. 14-16

Supervised Classification

Youtube video sessions:

  1. Supervised Classification
  2. Estimating Classification Accuracy


  KEY: Image Classification Problems


Lab 10: Raster imagery: classification and accuracy assessment

Nov. 21-22

Feature Analysis

Youtube video sessions:

  1. Distance Geoprocessing Tools
  2. Overlay Geoprocessing Tools



Thanksgiving Holiday !

Lab 11:  Feature Analysis

Nov 28 - 30


Map Layouts :

Map Layout For Landscape Change Animation

Time enabled layers: Alaska Wildfires Since 2000

Study area Map Layout



KEY: Feature Analysis Spatial Problems




Lab 12: Map Layout

Dec. 5-7

Example Final Exams :

Practice Final 1: Invasive Weed Locations Along Haul Road

Practice Final 2: Barley Fields Mean Soil pH and Yield

Practice Final 3: Shorebirds Mean Distance to Low Tide Line

Practice Final 4: Churchill River KM By Province






Final Exam during lab

Final Exam during lab

Email: Dave Verbyla (dlverbyla@alaska.edu.edu).