Tag Archives: GIS Training

New Online GIS Course For Biologists From GIS In Ecology

11 May

We’ve been running our in-person courses for just over five years now, and these have always proved very popular, but over this time we have been receiving an ever-increasing number of requests to make our courses available online for those who cannot afford to travel to Scotland to do them. This is an issue that we have always been very aware of, and it was something we were keen to try to do something about. Well, after a couple of years in development, we are finally in a position to do so, and I’m pleased to be able to say that we have just launched our very first online course.

This online course provides a basic, but practical, introduction to using GIS in biological research and is aimed at the complete beginner who needs a hand working out where to get started. It’s hosted on our new sister site GISforBiologists.com, and consists of just over three hours of on-demand videos which take you through all you need to know to make your first map, create your own feature data layers and work with raster data layers. We estimate that completing the course (which includes reading the background materials, watching the videos and completing the exercises) will take around nine hours, although the exact amount of time it takes will vary from person to person, and some will undoubtedly complete it much more quickly.

The practical exercises in the course are based around those found in our book GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates and cover the same content as you would be taught on the first day of our ever-popular in-person course An Introduction To Using QGIS In Biological Research. A subscription to the videos costs US$30 and lasts for three months, giving you more than enough time to complete all three exercises. You do have to purchase a copy of the book separately (although you could probably get away with just working from the videos), but this still represents a substantial saving on learning the same GIS skills on our in-person course (which would costs up to £295 in course fees, as well as travel and accommodation costs).

The software which is used for the course is QGIS, and we selected it for this online course because it is freely available, meaning that there is no additional cost for software licences for those who wish to learn how to use GIS in biological research. It is also the software package that we recommend novice biological GIS users start with. However, the skills that you learn can be easily transferred to other GIS software packages, including ArcGIS, the leading commercial one.

This course represents the start of a new phase in the development of GIS In Ecology, and we aim to make more of our training materials available online through GISforBiologists.com over the next year or so. By doing this, we hope to further promote the use of GIS as an important tool for the modern-day biologist, no matter where in the world they are working, or what field they are working in.