Introduction to GIS MOOC

This course is intended to introduce students to the concepts, applications, and theories in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). First offered in May 2015, this course was the first UWF Massively Open Online Course (MOOC). The course will be offered for the third time, starting May 15, 2017 and running until June 26, 2017.

This course is a free 6 week, non-college credit MOOC.  The course is a low-impact introduction to GIS that includes both conceptual and hands-on instructional videos demonstrating basic technical skills central to geospatial analysis using both personal and professional data.

Students engage with the course at their own pace, any time of the day, within the 6 week course offering. Students have the opportunity to participate in the course in one of the 3 following ways:

  • Exploration- students are welcome to view all course content without being required to complete assignments.
  • Earn Badges - badges are awarded by module.  Students are required to visit all pages and earn at least 70% on the Module quiz (2 attempts provided) in order to earn a single badge.  There are 6 total modules and 6 badges possible.
  • Earn 3.0 UWF Continuing Education Units - to earn CEUs students must: earn all 6 content badges (see requirements above), and complete all lab assignments. Lab completion is determined by students earning at least 70% on lab process quizzes and turning in any other required lab related deliverables. Students will be required to have access to Esri's ArcGIS software in order to complete the weekly lab assignments. 

The 2018 session will be accepting students this summer.

2015 Course Highlights

  • 3,542 students enrolled
  • 1,459 individual discussions were posted
  • 3,978 badges were awarded
  • 140 students earned FREE Continuing Education Units

Course Topics

  • What is a GIS?
  • Scales of Measurement & Map Design
  • Working with Spatial Data
  • Coordinate Systems & Projections
  • GIS Editing & Geoprocessing
  • Analysis in GIS
"Rigorous. Good balance of theory and practice. Thank you!" - Dr. Joseph Kerski, GISP, Esri Education Manager


This MOOC is the result of a P.A.C.E. grant awarded to Environmental Studies Department and Matthew Schwartz, Chairperson and Associate Professor, in 2014. The purpose of the MOOC in GIS meets 3 University goals including:

  1. the use of experiential learning and other high-impact learning experiences to help students develop 21st century skills;
  2. increase participation in relevant, community-engaging teaching, research and service; and
  3. improve visibility and telling of the UWF story. 

Specifically, this MOOC provides a low-impact introduction to a technical and fast-growing field, an opportunity to recruit students into existing UWF degree programs, certificate, and workshops, and serves as a mechanism to expand the use of regional geospatial examples.

"We wanted to create a GIS MOOC to whet people’s interest in GIS and GIS at UWF by taking our existing college-credit-earning online Introduction to GIS course, that is offered as part of the Online GIS Certificate Program and scaling it down a bit, without losing the meat or hands-on tutorials and the real-world education experience our online GIS courses are known for."

Amber Bloechle