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GIS 320
Geographic Information Systems
in Business & Community

Revised: August, 2014
Credits: 3
Instructor: Ed Nickel
Office: HTC 133
Phone: 753-2241 (office with voice mail)
E-mail: due to increased spam my email address will be provided the first day of class
Class Web Page:
Textbook: Understanding GIS: an ArcGIS Project Workbook, by Harder, Ormsby, & Balstrom, ISBN 978-1-58948-242-5, ESRI Press, © 2011. Search using the title, author, or ISBN for pricing at various discounters/used book dealers.


CATALOG DESCRIPTION: Geographic Information Systems in Business & Community. Basic techniques for geographic analysis and summary of business or community problems. Finding patterns and relationships in tabular and spatial data is emphasized. Popular geographic information systems software will be used for demonstration and projects.

Welcome to GIS in Business & Community. This course is an upper division class in geographic information analysis designed to acquaint BAS-Digital Communications, BAIS, and BA-Secondary Education students with an understanding of GIS and related spatial and tabular data analysis tools. We will cover how GIS is used in various business and government environments. This class is project oriented but also includes substantial discussion and hands on lab components. The most significant assignments and topics to be covered are shown in the schedule at the end of this document. All other assignment due dates will be noted when the assignments are given during class. Additional time outside of class will be needed to complete assignments. To complete assignments students may use any open GBC computer lab or, if available, their own computer and appropriate software.

This class assumes you have a junior standing and at least basic understanding of computers including how to create, organize, & copy computer files and folders within Windows but would like to learn about GIS and some of its many uses. If you do not have the background outlined in the previous sentence then you should take a basic computer class before trying this class. If, however, you already understand computers and the essentials of GIS but need to learn specific GIS software, such as ArcGIS, then you should probably take GIS 301 prior to or concurrently with this class. If you have any questions concerning which class is best for you please call me at the number shown above or via Skype.

Please note: If you have not taken GIS 109, GIS 301, or do not have ArcGIS experience then you may wish to go through ESRI's Learning ArcGIS Desktop exercises to familiarize yourself with this import GIS software application. Contact your instructor for an access code to these training modules exercises.

GIS is one of the fastest growing information systems in computing. It is used in business, natural resource management, emergency management, government, the military, politics, and many other fields. Even if you do not use a GIS directly, data about you is used in many geographic information systems to provide you (or them) with better service by (or for) any number of businesses and agencies from banking and election campaigns to ambulance services and fire departments. In this class we will explore how GIS works, its uses, its limitations, as well as the societal implications of the explosive growth in this field.

As an upper division class good communications and analytical skills are paramount. You are expected to use a college level vocabulary and grammar in all your class communications both written and verbal. Please remember, good communications are always two-way, speaking assumes listening and writing assumes reading.

METHOD OF INSTRUCTION: This class will be taught via Internet using GBC's web instructional delivery system. You are expected to participate in the weekly online discussions, complete the various assignments, and complete your class project.

I can be reached via Web Campus and email, at the phone number listed above, via Skype or, you can make an appointment to see me. My office hours are posted on my office door and on my website. The schedule of readings, assignments, homework, and tests can be found below. Additional assignments will be given in the class discussions or through postings on this class's Web Campus site.


The successful student in this class will be able to:
  1. understand the application of GIS in business, community, and/or natural resource management;
  2. appropriately apply GIS problem-solving processes;
  3. spatially analyze geographic data;
  4. design a GIS to meet the needs of a specific task;
  5. and, demonstrate how to collect, organize, & manage data appropriate to a specific task.
Learner Outcome Measurements
Measurement Method Learner Outcomes
Class Discussion 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Assignments & Hands On Exercises 3, 4, 5
Project 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


GRADING POLICY: This is a letter grade class an A=90-100%, B=80-89%, C=70-79%, D=60-69%, F=59% or less or W=Official Withdrawal if done before the withdrawal deadline. There is no curve in this grading scale. Your grade will be based 30% on assignments, 30% on discussions, and 40% on class project. All assignments are due by the beginning of the next class unless otherwise indicated by the instructor when they are assigned.

EXAM & QUIZ PROCEDURES: Any exams and quizzes will be objective, e.g. true/false, multiple choice, fill-in the blank, etc, and will be conducted using GBC's web based learning system.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: The instructor must agree in advance to any excused absences unless there are strong extenuating circumstances. Three (3) unexcused absences can result in a failing grade, in an on-line class an absence is one week when you do not participate in class or contact the instructor.

OTHER POLICIES: The student rights & responsibilities policy stated in the current GBC Catalog apply to this class. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and can result in a failing grade. This syllabus is not a contract and is subject to reasonable changes as the class proceeds.

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Great Basin College is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to qualified students with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A qualified student must furnish current verification of disability. The Director of Services for Students with Disabilities will assist qualified students with disabilities in securing the appropriate and reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids and services. For more information or further assistance, please call (775) 753-2271.


You should have read and be prepared to discuss each week's topics by the beginning of class. We will have significant hands on experiences with many lessons. Please read the "Welcome & Expectations" which covers common questions about class procedures in this online environment.

Readings, topics, & major assignments by week:
(Please note: the following schedule is subject to change based on class progress)
Week Readings Topic Assignments
1 handout 1 Review of essential GIS concepts  
2 handout 2 Review of GIS data analysis concepts  
3 Chapter 1 frame the problem  
all exercises in Chapter 1
& project proposal draft
4 Chapter 2 preview data needs & availability  
all exercises in Chapter 2
5 Chapter 3 collect data  
all exercises in Chapter 3
& assess project data requirements
6 Chapter 4 build a geodatabase  
all exercises in Chapter 4
& review and finalize project proposal
7 Chapter 5 edit data  
all exercises in Chapter 5
begin project data collection
8 Chapter 6 analyze data  
all exercises in Chapter 6
9 Chapter 7 analysis automation  
all exercises in Chapter 7
10 Chapter 8 mapping & presenting results  
all exercises in Chapter 8
& project outputs assessment
11 Chapter 9 publishing results  
complete project data collection
12   class project cont'd  
build geodatabase
13   class project cont'd  
edit & organize project data
14   class project cont'd  
perform analysis
15   class project cont'd  
perform geodata analysis
& create project maps
project peer review
publish project for class review

Creative Commons License
Original content on this website created by Ed Nickel
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
United States License
based on a work at
Some classes include rss-podcast

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