Desktop GIS - Spring 2019

Instructor:  Peggy Minnis, Ph.D.
Pace University
Department of Chemistry & Physical Sciences

Duration:  12 weeks  - Enrollment open now
Equipment:  Desktop or laptop computer (PC or PC compatible), Internet access.  This is an ONLINE course.

The course is divided into three units: 
1. The first 4-week unit covers basic principles of mapping, projections, sourcing data online, converting data to a different format and making an easy-to-understand map
2. The second unit shows how to create new data, find addressesm make selections, create, use GPS data, integrated photos and do density mapping.
3. The third unit will use some of the common extensions:  3D, Spatial Analyst and Publisher.  It will also show how GIS feeds into other programs, especially i-Tree from the USFS.

When the work for each 4-week unit is completed successfully, a badge will be issued (bronze, silver, gold).

At the end of the course, if the student has earned points for all their maps, videos or other assigned work on the discussion board, a certificate is awarded.

 Questions can be addressed to the instructor at



GIS Desktop
The order may change if new topics emerge






Setting up your computer and installing the program
Downloading Census data, Unzipping and storing data
ArcCatalog and how it differs from the ArcMap catalog
Different ways to add data to your map



Shapefiles and Geodatabases,the attribute table, adding a new field, zooming in, out, pan
Clipping features to show just one area 
Base maps using 
Layouts , switching from Layout to Map views
Creating meaningful marginalia
PDFs with layers 



Changing the projection of a shapefile
Comparing projected and geographic maps
Symbolizing data – colors, symbols, effects
Measuring features
Labeling, setting extents for labels to show
Labels as annotation
 shapefiles into a geodatabase
Making a map with an inset of the larger area
Finding data from other sources
Measuring Distances and area
Making halos around labels



Geocoding addresses in the program
 Geocoding via web services
Using Lat/Lon to locate places on a map
Make lines from spots to a central point
Making a two-line label
Making a video of time-related data
Clip a raster



Creating new shapefiles - point, polygon, line
Adding fields, calculating geometry
Editing features
Creating a field with lat/lon for point data
Creating a polyline from a polygon and vice versa
Exporting files to Google Earth



Selection - how features interact with each other features
Spatial queries
Creating buffers zones
Georeferencing, converting a paper map to a feature. 
Saving an aerial view for offline use.
Clipping or extracting a feature from a raster



Using a GPS to map features, routes
Converting GPS data to
 useable format
Camera with GPS – integrating
Hyperlinking Photos, documents and video to spots on the map.  



Using the US Census to download, prepare and map demographic data.
Density mapping of census features - dot mapping



Publisher, ArcReader, Map Packages, USGS National Map Viewer, downloading DEMs



3D, ArcScene, SketchUp, Elevation Profiles
Flood animation



iTree Tools



LiDAR processing, New Ideas, Final Project.

  Frequently-asked Questions:

Q. Does the class meet at any time during the week?

A. No.  You may access the materials for the week any time you choose. I like people to "stay in the week" and move on to new materials on Mondays.

Q. How will I know the course has started?

A. Every student who enrolls will get an email on January 21st from me.

Q.  How much time is required each week to complete the work?

A. It depends.  Some people can do everything in two hours/week.  If you are doing it at work and require permission for the time to take the course, figure two hours per week.  If you are just "brushing up," it may only take 30 minutes.

Q. What if I have a vacation in the middle of the course?  Can I get materials early or catch up?

A. You can catch up when you return.  I don't expose future weeks' materials because it would confuse all of us.

Q. Do I have to buy a book?

A. No.

Q. What's the easiest way to follow and learn in the course?

A. Having two screens available, one for watching the screencasts and the other for the program. 

Q. How do I get the program if I don't have it already?

A. Once you enroll in the class and it begins, you will learn how to request the full trial version.

Q. Will the program work on a MAC?

A. If you have installed a program that will allow Windows programs to run on your MAC; it requires BootCamp Assistant.  Here is a useful video.

     Harvard also has a good site to explain the process.

Q. Is there any cost for this course?

A. No.  (Isn't that nice?)

Q. When does the course shut off for the semester?

A. Around May 1, but it's over before then.

Q. Can I use QGIS to follow along?

A. Yes.  Some things require a little adaptation.  Some people have done that.  QGIS is free.