Welcome to our open courses. Feel free to browse the list of courses below or search for topics using the search box.

Geospatial Technology Competency Model

Credit: US Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration - Used with Permission

Course Description

This open courseware consists of eight videos from the gateway course to Penn State's Certificate and Masters degree programs in GIS. Following an introduction entitled "Why GIS Matters," six case studies correspond to the three sectors of the U.S. Department of Labor's Geospatial Technology Industry: 1. Positioning and Data Acquisition ("GIS and the Eradication of Polio in Nigeria" and "A Global Geodetic Reference Frame for Sustainable Development") 2. Analysis and Modeling ("Everyday Spatial Analysis" and "A National Water Model for Flood Prediction and Response") 3.

Course Description

Whether you realize it or not, when you carry a smart phone, use a navigation system in your car, or look up the nearest coffee shop on your computer, you are using geographic information. Geographic data and technologies are embedded in almost all aspects of our lives. GEOG 160, Mapping Our Changing World, explores what geographic information and data are, what makes them unique, how they are created, and how we use them.

Maps and the Geospatial Revolution

Credit: A. Robinson (c) Penn State University is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Course Description

The past decade has seen an explosion of new mechanisms for understanding and using location information in widely-accessible technologies. This Geospatial Revolution has resulted in the development of consumer GPS tools, interactive web maps, and location-aware mobile devices. This course brings together core concepts in cartography, geographic information systems, and spatial thinking with real-world examples to provide the fundamentals necessary to engage with Geographic Information Science.

Materials in Today's World

Credit: James Webb Space Telescope Mirror 37 by NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham/Emmett Given is Public domain

Course Description

What materials have you touched today? In today's society, virtually every segment of our personal and professional lives is influenced by the limitations, availability, and economic considerations of the materials used. Through readings and science documentaries, this course will show you how and why certain materials are selected for different applications and how the processing, structure, properties, and performance of materials are intrinsically linked.

Godzilla statue surrounded by city buildings inTokyo

Credit: Godzilla by Ian Myles, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Course Description

The modern era is full of fears. The more we know about our world, the more frightening it can be, and the 1950s were a time in which the threat of nuclear war, fears of communist takeovers, and new advances in science were all combining to make the modern world a very frightening place. This fear was reflected in art and in popular culture, particularly in inexpensive B-movie science fiction films. This module explores some of that fear, and the artistic and popular works inspired by it. Watch out for the giant ants!

watercolor of a slave ship, 5 crew members with multiple enslaved persons crowded on the deck. A Portuguese flag flies & an outline of another ship is in the background.

Credit: Lieutenant Henry Samuel Hawker, The Portuguese slaver Diligente captured by H.M. Sloop Pearl with 600 slaves on board, taken in charge to Nassau, May 1838. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Course Description

This series of modules approaches 'ships' and 'boats' as material and metaphor for thinking about migratory experiences and the movement of peoples, goods, and commodities, as they relate to the idea of modernity on a local, transnational, and planetary scale. The modules focus on literary, visual, and cinematic representations of ships and boats as a basis for engaging in comparative work.

Ochre pigments (left shelves) and a selection of paint additives and resins (right shelves)

Credit: Ochre pigments and paint additives and resins at Cornelison and Sons, London by Heather C. McCune Bruhn, 2014., licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Course Description

Ochre, which is essentially rust (iron oxide), is humankind's first pigment, and one of the most plentiful sources of color on earth. Ranging from red to orange, yellow, brown and even violet depending on trace minerals and moisture levels, it is extremely stable and fairly non-reactive. It can be prepared very easily (colored rocks and soil can be crushed, washed, and mixed with a binder to make paint), and was first used by humankind around 100,000 years ago. It is still in use today.

Oil: International Evolution

Credit: Oil Pump Machine Under Orange Sunset from Pexels is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Have you purchased gasoline and wondered at the price changes? Or worn your polyester jacket and wondered how it kept you warm, or been thankful your phone didn't break when you dropped it? These are just some benefits the petroleum industry brings to our world. Other aspects to the global world market involve natural disasters, wars, rumors of wars, national security, and consumer demand. Learn about oil production and how nations respond as EGEE 120 gives you a foundation of how industry interacts with you, governments, transportation, politics, and the world.

Open Web Mapping

Credit: The Activities of Africa by Mariusz Prusaczyk is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Everyone can make a web map now, but what are the best tools to do so? Maybe you have already created web maps with ArcGIS or Google Maps but never taken time to have a closer look at open source software alternatives such as QGIS, GeoServer and Leaflet? Or, are you new to web mapping and looking for the best way to create a web application for spatial data from your job or hobby? If so, GEOG 585, Open Web Mapping, is the right course for you. Learn about FOSS vs.

Course Description

EMSC 302 provides an orientation of the Energy and Sustainability Policy (ESP) degree program, preparing students for further study in the five program learning outcome areas: energy industry knowledge, global perspective, analytical skills, communication skills, and sustainability ethics. It also provides an introduction to the basic skills necessary to be successful in higher-ed online learning, including communication and library skills.

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Course Spotlight

pile of maps

Cartography and Visualization (GEOG 486) covers design principles and techniques for creating maps with contemporary mapping tools. Students will be introduced to future-focused application topics such as augmented and virtual reality, mapping with multivariate glyphs, the visual depiction of uncertainty, interactive geovisualization, and (geo)visual analytics, and decision-making with maps and mapping products. Visit the course.

Faculty Spotlight

Maria Wherley

Maria Scalzi Wherley (she, her) is a Learning Designer and Writer-in-Residence with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience. Learn more about Maria to see what she has to say about online education.