Review Comment

GIS (Geographic Information Systems)

January 02, 2018

Varamo, John
GIS (Geographic Information Systems)

GIS is really cool and the class wasn't that hard, but it was really boring and the work was rather tedious. This was Professor Varamo's first semester teaching and he also has a full time job as a GIS professional, so he didn't have time to make his own lesson plan. This meant we just used the textbook for everything, which was why the class was so boring. Also, Professor Varamo told us that people are transitioning away from traditional ArcGis, which is what the class covers, and will probably only use ArcGis Online by the time we enter the workforce, which was highly frustrating. I'd recommend taking this class if you are going into a profession that needs GIS, but I don't know if I would take it otherwise.


10 question problem set from the textbook each week, and a final project that involves making a map and writing a 3 page paper.

January 07, 2005

Williamson, Doug
GIS (Geographic Information Systems)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Doug is a down-to-earth, dedicated guy, who is one of the world authorities on everything GIS. His lectures were a bit of a snooze, as he readily admitted, so he was very lenient on attendance (as in, only half the class would regularly show up, and he posted lecture notes online). The main reason to go to lectures, besides socializing with every other Urban Studies major who realized that this course was the most painless way to fulfill the dreaded “C” requirement, was that Doug would give helpful hints about how to approach the bi-weekly assignments. Feel free to show up late, as Doug himself did many a time, and make sure to bring a crossword puzzle with you just in case.

The assignments were pretty straightforward, if you didnÂ’t lose your patience with what can be a very frustrating program. But, if you ever had a question about anything (anything!), you could always email Doug, and you would have a prompt and helpful response sometime around 5am the next day when he wakes up. I have never had a professor be more accessible by email: I think he sleeps with a Blackberry under his pillow.

The only thing that you should buy for this class is a sample version of GIS, if youÂ’d like to work at home. Although Doug put a few other books on the syllabus, they were quickly forgotten by everybody.

This course was in how to use a computer program, so I donÂ’t really understand why there were lectures in the first place. The class really should be taught as a lab, where every student gets a seat at a computer. Unfortunately, there were something like 30 people in this course, even though there were only about 10 computers, which only worked half the time. Given this awkward arrangement (imagine giving a lecture course on say, karate, or woodworking) Doug did a great job of steering this ship of half-interested students.

The most important thing to Doug is that you learn how to use this (very powerful and pretty cool) program. If you can get yourself even a little bit excited about learning GIS, Doug will be there to help you every step of the way.


About 5 semi-weekly take-home assignments, a midterm (which doug himself described as "cake"), a group project, and a take-home final

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