Meeting Workforce Needs for Skilled Geospatial Technicians through Virtual Geospatial Information Science Technology Education
This project aims to develop one of the nation's first Associate in Applied Science degree programs in geospatial information technology that is fully accessible both on campus and online. It is expected that the program will help meet the growing demand for geospatial technicians across Upstate New York. The degree program will be designed to provide students with equal access to state-of-the-art geospatial education, regardless of where they live. Innovative aspects of the project include customizable in-person and online learning, online internships, online mentoring, and hands-on technical support at the college library and public libraries. In addition to educating new technicians, the project will also address regional demand for on-the-job geospatial education by developing an online nine-credit micro-credential focused on topics such as data management, programming, and web mapping.
The project goal is to prepare students for more advanced Geospatial Information Science Technology careers. It plans to achieve this goal by building on the geospatial certificate program that was developed with support from a previous award from the NSF Advanced Technological Education program. Industry-identified requirements will guide improvements to existing courses and development of three new advanced courses. These courses will form the core curriculum for the new Associate in Applied Science degree and micro-credential, both of which can be earned online. Virtual geospatial internships will be designed to support rural organizations that need geospatial information, but are unable to employ a geospatial expert. The project includes research on online education. This research will include comparisons of the effectiveness online mentoring, remote internships, and library support for online learning. The project will also assess the effectiveness of the virtual internships in preparing students to meet the increasing demand for geospatial technicians who can work remotely. Additionally, the project will examine the extent to which online education can meet the needs of underserved students who may be new to online learning or who have limited broadband connections. Dissemination through social media, websites, and presentations at conferences will provide information that other colleges may use as a model for developing their own virtual technical education programs.