Great Basin College

Fundamentals of GIS

GIS 109, 3 credits

Time/Location: Internet, assignments due Wednesdays at midnight, LiveNet sessions TBA

Please Read through the entire syllabus and print it out for your reference.

Catalog Description: An introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) covering the basic concepts. Principles of cartography and spatial analysis are presented. The intent is to prepare the student for advanced training using specific GIS software. No prerequisites.


Instructor:       Laura Johnson775-753-2005; Office: HTC 130 in Elko

* I do not check email over weekends (Friday 4pm – Monday 9 am).

Office hours: See schedule (on the left-hand Course Menu on the class website), others by appointment.
*Open door policy: To guarantee an appointment, please call. If you come by my office and the door is open, please stop in. If it is closed, leave me a message or look for me in the lab (HTC 108).

Required Text: Longley, Paul A. and others. Geographic Information Systems and Science. John Wiley and Sons, 2005

Required Software: you will need access to the internet and Microsoft Word for completing your projects. GIS software used in this class will be downloaded for free (instruction on this is provided).

Who Should take this class:

Important! Things you may not know about online classes:

Learner Outcomes: The student will demonstrate through participation (1), weekly quizzes (2), class discussion (3), projects (4), and testing (5) that he/she has basic knowledge and understanding of:

General Education Outcomes: Students will demonstrate communication proficiency, critical thinking, personal and cultural awareness, and understanding of personal well-being throughout the class. Discussion participation, interview and observation, presentation, graphic communication and Internet searches will be required. Assignments will include, but are not limited to:

Assessments: The student's progess in the class will be assesed using 

  1. weekly quizzes 
  2. class discussion 
  3. projects 
  4. testing
More detail on each assessment follows in this syllabus.

Instructional Methods


Grading Policy: I use a points system. Projects are worth100 points each; your total weekly participation in online discussions, 350 points; and turning in online quizzes, 350 points. This class is worth a total of 1000 points. Final grades are assigned on the following scale:

Minimum points

Maximum points

Percentage range

Letter Grade


















































Late Policy: Each day (M – F) that a project is late, a late penalty of 10% of the total points available for that project will be deducted. For example, a project worth 100 possible points, with 89 points earned, would be deducted an additional 20 points for a grade of 69 points after being 2 days late (100 * 10% * 2 days = 20 points deducted).
Weekly quizzes and discussions will not be accepted late. Just try to turn in the next week’s participation items on time.

Extra Credit: Available for students with a grade of less than 80% of possible points and all assignments turned in on time, see me for details.

Your Weekly Responsibilities

Each week, you will have a variety of ways to learn about the topic. You will need to:

Live Net

LiveNet sessions will begin the second week of class. This will allow you to watch a real-time demonstaration of how to use the software and you can ask questions as well. A poll will be taken to determine the best time for a one-hour session each week. If you cannot attend the sessions live, or you can't remember everything, an archive will be available for you online after the session takes place, so you will not miss anything. You can always ask me or your classmates questions through the discussion board at any time.

Be sure to read the LiveNet instructions link on the class home page before the second week of class!

Online  Discussions:

            A significant part of your grade (350 points, or 35%) comes from participating in online discussions and from turning in worksheets. However,  you cannot pass this course (will receive a grade of F) if you do not participate in any online discussions. It is a vital part of the learning process. Also, you cannot post ahead of time or after time, the topics are only open for one week. To access discussions, go to the Course Menu on the left-hand side of your screen.

 Participation consists of the following:

Your weekly participation will not count if:

Online quizzes:

            Along with online discussions, online quizzes make up the rest of your participation grade (another 35% of total grade for the course). These are available from the link on the course home page. You can't complete them ahead of schedule - they are available for one week only! You will receive full credit for completing each quiz if:

These weekly quizzes allow for instructor feedback on different concepts and especially software operations that you will be learning in class. They do not have to be perfect to get full credit at the end of the semester, you just need to try your best.

You will not receive any credit for a weekly quiz if:

Remember, you have approximately 15 chances to turn in discussions and weekly quizzes. If you miss one week, it likely will not affect your grade. Just try to turn in the next week’s participation items on time. On the other hand, don’t let yourself get behind!

Note: if you see a grade for these quizzes on your student grades, ignore it until the end of the semester. Just keep track of how many quizzes you completed. That is what counts the most towards your grade.

WebCT Email

Be sure to check the class email regularly, as I will send messages to the entire class that you will need to read. This is also where you can contact me with your questions (see below).


Major Projects:

1.      GIS in the Workplace. 100 points. Students will conduct an interview with a GIS professional, write a paper, and discuss results online. Details are on the project page.

2.      GIS in Society. 100 points. Students will read and summarize two articles on GIS helping society, write a paper, and discuss findings online.

3.      GIS Layout. 100 points. Students will choose from several topics given by the instructor, elaborate on the topic, and create one or more layouts using AEJEE including a map and text.

How to successfully complete and turn in major projects:

    You will need to use the Assignment Dropbox. This link is available on the left-hand side of the WebCT window.
    The projects each have a link, and are available until thier due dates and times. The attached information about each project outlines very specifically what is expected for your project. If you follow the guidelines and look at the grading rubric provided, you will most likely get a good grade. Once the due date or time has passed for a project, you can still turn it in late (but only up to 10 week days late). See above for the late policy.

How to get help in this class

First, condsider your question. Is it:

Working Ahead
You can work ahead to some extent in this class, based on how much information I have posted, however, 70% of your grade (quizzes and discussions) can only be completed on a scheduled week-by-week basis. You may complete your projects early, however, they will not be graded until after the due date. You can also read ahead, view presentations ahead of time, and work on your GIS hands-on exercises ahead of time. However, you will have to re-visit the hands-on exercises to complete the weekly quizzes.

General Policies

Attendance: GBC General attendance policies are in effect. See 2005-2006 GBC general catalog page 49 for policies on excessive absences and religious holiday absences. This class requires regular participation. This is not a purely self-paced class, it requires regular weekly participation. If classes are missed, students must still complete assignments on time or make appropriate plans with the instructor ahead of time, or as soon as possible in case of a legitimate emergency.

Computer Lab: Use of GBC computer labs is a privilege and not a right. Students are advised to abide by lab rules that are posted in the labs and on the GBC web page.

Academic Integrity: Students are expected to adhere to the Student Conduct Policy as outlined in the 2005-2006 GBC general catalog, page 27. Cheating and/or plagiarism will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Accommodations: GBC supports providing equal access for students with disabilities. An advisor is available to discuss appropriate accommodations with students. Please contact the ADA Officer (Julie Byrnes at 775-753-2271) at your earliest convenience to request timely and appropriate accommodations.

Field Work: GIS classes typically require some amount of field work for data collection. Students are advised to dress appropriately for the weather, including sturdy footwear.