Online Training Courses - Are they for You?
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Online Training Courses - Are they for You?

Message from the Editor

Welcome to GISWeekly! Online training courses are gaining popularity in the GIS industry, catering to those who need to hone some skills, or learn new software programs without having to attend a class at a local college or university. The courses can allow flexible scheduling so that attendees are not tied down to a rigid timetable, which can work well for those with hectic work demands. Education product managers from popular GIS and consulting vendors answer questions about their company's online training offerings in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Alliances/Acquisitions, Announcements, New Products, Going on Around the Web, and Calendar.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor


Industry News
Online Training Courses - Are they for You?
By Susan Smith


Online training courses are gaining popularity in the GIS industry, catering to those who need to hone some skills, or learn new software programs without having to attend a class at a local college or university. The courses can allow flexible scheduling so that attendees are not tied down to a rigid timetable, which can work well for those with hectic work demands.

Some of these courses and workshops come with course materials and instructors, and in some cases, include spatial data, exams and many other expectations of a live classroom setting, presented live, over the web. Those who answered questions here are Fiona Hopkinson, Education and Interoperability Programs Manager-Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions, Judy Boyd, ESRI Educational Products Manager and Melody Craigmyle, Director of Corporate Communications, Avatech Solutions Inc.

Q1) What are the criteria for users to be able to take the online training courses offered by your company?

ESRI--ESRI Virtual Campus is open to the public. Everything needed to complete the courses and workshops is available online, including concepts, examples, exercises, spatial data, and exams.

Avatech--Currently, Avatech's on-line training is done as custom training for different organizations, based on their needs. A schedule, course content and instructor are chosen by the client and offered live, over the web. The training sessions can also be recorded and posted on a company intranet.

Intergraph--Our first course is Introduction to GIS is for beginners, therefore prior knowledge or exposure to GIS is not required. Some students interested in our courses are not presently using Intergraph products. All they need is Internet access and we provide them with all the necessary software.

Q2) How do you determine what subjects to offer?

ESRI--Customers tell us what subjects they need through online evaluations, polls, and surveys.

Avatech--As the one of the nation's largest Autodesk Authorized Training Center, Avatech Solutions offers training in all Autodesk products including Autodesk MapGuide, Autodesk Map, Autodesk Land Desktop including Civil and Survey specific courses. Avatech has selected these products because they are popular among designers and if trained properly, employee productivity can dramatically improve.

Intergraph--We wanted to take a different approach and offer an integrated geotechnologies course online. This means our course discusses theory of GIS, GPS and other geotechnologies within a broader context of the software. The reality is, people use GIS with other technologies and information within their enterprise and we wanted a more expansive learning experience.

We offer training that meets market demand not only now, but also future market needs. We will be announcing our next course later this year.

Q3) Do you offer well-known instructors who are available to users as they move through the course, or is yours a materials-only training course? If instructors are available, how much one-on-one time is available to students?

ESRI-- ESRI Virtual Campus courses and workshops are designed for self study. Courses are developed by ESRI education specialists and well-known academics and industry professionals. Learners get peer-to-peer support through campus clubs and education support analysts answer questions by email. During Live Training Seminars at the campus, customers have their questions answered in real time by a professional ESRI instructor.

Avatech--Avatech Solutions' trainers are certified, industry-experienced instructors with effective teaching skills. Many different types of courses are offered including in classroom, onsite, and elearning classes. Training can be customized to meet specific work environment and industry needs and it can also be process based where the training is more project-specific than software-based.

Elearning training includes online Tech Tips, eDemos, and Workshops. Tech Tips allow students to quickly gain a competitive advantage by viewing exclusive streaming media Quick Tech Tips created by Avatech's Application Engineers. eDemos allow companies to ensure the software is right for them by viewing our streaming media eDemos before they make an expensive purchasing decision. Avatech's Online Workshops bring popular topics and Avatech's talented instructors right to your desktop.

Intergraph--Our instructor, Jeff Thurston, has been teaching online since 1994 and has both online and classroom experience. In designing the course we wanted to achieve high levels of interactivity with students. Weekly chats with the instructor provide this together with online interactive discussion boards for which the instructor usually participates within 24 hours. We have students from all around the world and try to be flexible with time zones and local student time to enable everyone to participate.

Q4) What type of certification do students receive after completing the course?

ESRI-- Customers receive a certification of completion from ESRI for successfully completing an online exam. Continuing education units for Virtual Campus courses are available through some university programs.

Avatech--Autodesk does not currently offer any type of certification for its courses.

Intergraph--Upon completion of the course students are eligible for continuing education points towards GISCI certification as well as GeoMedia Professional User certification.

Students are then eligible to take a more advanced course that is being established and will be available shortly. This will provide students with a logical learning path that builds on their knowledge.

Q5) What are the average terms of the training courses - six weeks? 3 months? A semester?

ESRI-- ESRI Virtual Campus learners work at their own paces. Each course module takes 2-4 hours to complete.

Avatech--Most of Avatech's classroom training courses are 2-4 days. Its an intensive, 8-hour day using a variety of exercises and instructor lecture. For 30 days after the course, students receive free technical support from the National Support Center to answer any follow-up questions. Students are also encouraged to visit the Tech Tips section of the website periodically for quick refreshers and new tips on the software.

Intergraph--The Intergraph courses are designed to provide about 60 hours of instruction within 10 weeks, roughly equivalent to a semester. The course is designed to provide basic learning materials, but a unique feature we provide is exploratory learning materials that supplement the basic course material. These explorations are designed to challenge students who choose to work with them and who may have slightly more experience or interest to learn even more.

Q6) Are advanced courses offered?

ESRI-- Yes.

Avatech--Beginner, intermediate and advanced courses are offered.

Intergraph--Our current course is the foundation course. Future courses will build on this first course. We anticipate prospective courses to become more specialized to meet the needs of users requirements in particular fields.

Q7) What are the costs involved, and are there any special discounts for groups, entire organizations, etc.?

ESRI-- There are hundreds of hours of free course modules, workshops and training seminars available at ESRI Virtual Campus. Courses range in price from $50-$225 (depending on length) and workshops cost $30. Educators and students receive a 40% discount at the campus. Discounts of 5%-10% are also offered for volume purchases and subscriptions offer even greater savings with discounts ranging from 10%-65%. Professional associations participating in the Professional Connection Program get a 20% discount for their members.

Avatech--Course prices begin at $199. There are special discounts for groups and for custom, on-site training.

Intergraph--The standard rate is $1,000 (U.S.). IGUC and Team GeoMedia members receive a 20 percent discount and group bookings of 10 or more receive a further five percent discount.



Alliances/Acquisitions/Awards

MENSI announced the official closing of its acquisition by Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB). MENSI is now the business area within the Trimble Geomatics and Engineering (G&E) Division responsible for 3D laser scanning solutions (hardware and software).

MENSI's 15 years of experience and leading position in the 3D laser scanner industry has lead to the creation of a new business area within the Trimble group.

Tele Atlas, provider of digital map databases and real-time traffic information in the United States, and Horizon Navigation, a global supplier of vehicle navigation systems and technology, announced a strategic licensing agreement that enables the two companies to collaborate to bring innovative content and features to the navigation industry. In-vehicle navigation devices, navigation software and database engineering solutions created by Horizon will soon be available with Tele Atlas' seamless turn-by-turn map coverage for the U.S. and Canada.

Telcontar, supplier of software and related services for location-based services (LBS), announced its partnership with Aircept, a leading manufacturer and service provider for automatic vehicle location devices using the Aeris.net MicroBurst® network. The Telcontar and Aircept partnership combines the Aircept Mobile Location Unit™ (MLU) hardware with the power of the Telcontar Universal Telematics Server™ (UTS), an automated Web and telephony service platform that enables consumers and enterprises to track and control their vehicles. In another announcement Telcontar announced the close of its $6.6M A1 round of funding. The round was entirely funded by existing investors or members of the current management team, and was led by Cardinal Ventures. Telcontar will use the funds to continue expanding its share of the burgeoning location-based services market by implementing its Mobile Location Server™ initiative.



Announcements

Using visualization technology from Silicon Graphics, NASA engineers are overcoming the challenges of communicating across 106 million miles of space to remotely pilot NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers -- including Spirit, which landed on the surface of Mars on Jan. 3. Scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are using SGI(R) Onyx(R) 300 systems and the OpenGL Performer(TM) real-time graphics API to combine 360-degree photographic images taken each morning by the Spirit Rover with terrain data to create a virtual Mars environment. This environment integrates the 3D visualization of the surrounding Martian geography with an interactive model of the Spirit Rover. As a result, NASA engineers can safely pilot the Rover while compensating for round-trip space communication lag times of up to 20 minutes.

Abstract Submission Deadline for papers for the ESRI International User Conference is January 16, 2004.

Utility Automation Integrators, Incorporated, the leading provider of geospatial information technology, has changed its name to "UAI, Inc." to better reflect an ever-broadening market for its solutions.

SANZ (OTCBB:SANZ) announced that DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colo., has purchased a multi-seat license of their EarthWhere(TM) spatial data provisioning application. DigitalGlobe plans to utilize EarthWhere as a part of its core information technology (IT) infrastructure to manage and deliver custom digital imagery datasets for existing and future customers.

Cadcorp, the developer of Cadcorp SIS - Spatial Information System - digital mapping and GIS software suite, is pleased to announce that it has received six OpenGIS compliance certificates. These now join the four conformance certificates previously received from the Open GIS Consortium Inc., (OGC), that relate to Simple Features (SFO), Grid Coverages (GC) and Coordinate Transformation Services (CTO).

Three Cadcorp software products - Cadcorp SIS Map Server, Cadcorp SIS Active Server Component and Cadcorp GeognoSIS.NET - were submitted for compliance testing against the OpenGIS Web Map Service (WMS 1.1.1) and Web Feature Service (WFS 1.0.0) interface standards.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has posted new maps on the Internet showing basins with the greatest potential for producing mudslides as a result of the devastating October fires in Southern California. The new maps show the probability for debris-flow (mudslide) activity and estimates of the peak discharge from drainage basins burned by the Old and Grand Prix Fires near San Bernardino and the Piru, Simi and Verdale Fires near Simi Valley and Fillmore.

More information and copies of the new maps can be obtained at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2003/ofr-03-475/ and http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2003/ofr-03-481/

More information about debris flows can be obtained at http://www.oes.ca.gov, http://www.fema.gov/hazards/landslides/landslif.shtm , http://landslides.usgs.gov/html_files/fire-flows.html or by calling the USGS Landslide Program at 1-800-654-4966. Information about risk in individual communities can be obtained from the County Flood Control Districts. The USGS maps do not replace or affect FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

Tele Atlas, provider of digital map data and location content, announced that its turn-by-turn map data and points of interest (POIs) content are exclusively powering Pioneer's newest in-car navigation system, the AVIC-N1. Pioneer's latest system is an effective and flexible navigation system that uses Tele Atlas' most complete turn-by-turn maps currently available for the United States.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions and the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community (IGUC) announced the 2004 Geospatial Achievement Awards program, the worldwide competition that recognizes Intergraph users who have developed innovative, technologically advanced mapping and geospatial solutions to better serve their communities or constituencies. The competition will highlight organizations and professionals that are raising the bar by setting a higher standard for the future with development of industry-leading solutions. All organizations are encouraged to submit entries by April 1, 2004. Intergraph will honor one recipient in each of the following seven categories: Commercial Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Solutions, Local/Regional Government Solutions, National/Federal Government Solutions, Military and Intelligence Solutions, Transportation Industry Solutions, Utilities and Communications Industry Solutions, Applications Development.

Award recipients will be honored during a special awards ceremony on May 13 following the morning keynote address at GeoSpatial World 2004, the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community international training and management conference, May 12-14, in Miami Beach, Florida, USA. Winners will be notified by April 19, 2004, and will receive a special recognition award and complimentary registration to GeoSpatial World 2004. You can submit an entry or view complete program guidelines and instructions here or go to GeoSpatial World 2004 .

CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio) announced that its BlueCore Bluetooth(R) silicon has been selected by Navman, for its Navman GPS 4400 in-vehicle system. The Bluetooth wireless connection, made possible with CSR's BlueCore in the Navman GPS 4400, turns a Pocket PC PDA into a navigation system that will issue voice commands. The in-car Navman system makes use of satellite location technology (GPS) to pinpoint your location and then issues precise directions throughout the journey using voice commands. Voice technology is made possible by the supplied SmartST(TM) Professional Voice Navigation software. Navman GPS 4400 is available now from online retailers for approximately $400.

A complete report of Phases I through III of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) 10-year Industry Forecast of Remote Sensing has been published in the January 2004 issue of Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing (PE&RS), the official journal for imaging and geospatial information science and technology. The study documentation was prepared by Charles Mondello, Pictometry International Corp., Forecast Coordinator; Dr. George F. Hepner, University of Utah; and, Dr. Ray A. Williamson, The George Washington University.

The Executive Summary of the 10-Year Industry Forecast, is available at:
http://www.asprs.org/asprs/publications/pe&rs/2004journal/january/jan_frame.html

Congressman Adam Putnam will present the keynote address at the 4th Annual ESRI Federal User Conference on January 20, 2004, at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The conference will focus on geographic information system (GIS) technology for data sharing, e-government implementations, homeland security efforts, and other pertinent topics.

Intergraph Corporation (Nasdaq: INGR) will provide an online, real-time Webcast of its 4th quarter 2003 operating results conference call to be held on Thursday, January 29, 2004, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. Listeners to the webcast will be asked to pre-register and should plan to visit www.intergraph.com/investors 5 to 10 minutes before the broadcast of the conference call. A replay of the Webcast will also be available on demand at www.intergraph.com/investors an hour after the live conference call and continuing for one year until January 31, 2005.

Tele Atlas announced that Navman, designer and manufacturer of world-class global positioning systems (GPS), has selected Tele Atlas maps for all of its North American automotive navigation products. Through this exclusive agreement, Navman products will leverage Tele Atlas' turn-by-turn map data, and Tele Atlas' points of interest (POIs) data.



Appointments

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) enters 2004 with its new Board of Directors, headed by GITA President Stewart Asbury. President of the SpatialAge Solutions Division, Byers Engineering Company, Atlanta, Ga., Asbury has served as chair of both GITA's Annual Conference and Education committees.

J. Peter Gomez, manager of information requirements for Xcel Energy's Asset Management organization, Denver, Colo., will serve as the association's president-elect for the year. Karen Levy, 2003 GITA president and information technology project manager for the City of Newport News Waterworks (Virginia), is immediate past president. Susan Ancel, manager of network services for EPCOR Water Services Inc., Alberta, Canada, will serve as the association's treasurer; and Wilma Kumar-Rubock, vice president and chief information officer for Washington Gas, Springfield, Va., is the association's secretary.

i-cubed, a geospatial solutions integrator and engineering company based in Fort Collins, Colo., has added three employees to its work force to meet the demands of its expanding worldwide market for geospatial products and services.

As head of i-cubed's new Technical Sales Support Group, Tayin Hippeli will provide sales teams with information and material required to complete requests for quotes (RFQs) and requests for proposals (RFPs). A recent graduate of Colorado State University and former Sandia National Laboratories employee, Hippeli has a degree in Natural Resource Management with a concentration in Spatial Information Management Systems and Remote Sensing.

Justin Doucette will serve as a Project Manager, overseeing projects involving orthorectification, digital elevation model creation and vector extraction. Doucette previously was employed by LAND INFO International as the Operations Manager and served as GIS Planner for the State of Massachusetts

In recognition of his numerous achievements in the industry, the GIS Certification Institute has awarded Roger Tomlinson the GISP Certificate for Lifetime GIS Achievement. In addition to the Certificate, the URISA Board awarded a lifetime membership in the association.

William Huxhold, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Chair of URISA's Certification Committee which developed the program, commented, "Without Roger's dedication to GIS, it is doubtful that there would even be a professional GIS Certification. His contributions to the industry have been, and continue to be, exemplary."

Commonly known as the "Father of GIS", Roger Tomlinson, GISP is the principal of Tomlinson Associates, a firm of consulting geographers. He has advised clients such as the World Bank and the United States and Canadian Forest Services. He holds a Ph.D. from University College, London and lives in Ottawa, Ontario.



New Products

Telmap, a provider of mobile mapping applications released the latest version of Andromeda, its Map and Location Platform. The Andromeda 4.0 Platform powers the company's advanced navigation and location management applications for map-based solutions. These include PolarisTM Off-Board Navigation systems for cellular phones and PDAs and VegaTM Fleet, Workforce Management and Telematics solutions.

Pharos Science & Applications Inc., a provider of portable navigation and location-based services for mobile devices, and Tele Atlas, a worldwide leading provider of digital map data and dynamic location content, introduced the first commercially available application and service that leverages Tele Atlas' turn-by-turn map data integrated with its real-time traffic solution.

Price-sensitive customers who want a mobile notebook computer should take a look at the Dell Latitude(tm) D505 notebook, starting at $1,049(a), with Intel's new Celeron M processor and Wi-Fi(R) capability.

Thuban is an interactive viewer for geographic data layers. It can handle Shapefiles, PostgreSQL/PostGIS spatial databases and raster data. The user interface makes data exploration easy. Notable features are the legend editor with some automatic classification, projection support and management of attribute tables.

Thales (TAL-less) Navigation, a global provider of GPS solutions including Magellan(R) consumer and Thales Navigation professional products, demonstrated at CES the first turn-by-turn, audio-prompted, street-routing and guidance software specifically designed to provide vehicle navigation functionality on a rugged handheld GPS receiver. Magellan MapSend(R) DirectRoute(TM) allows many Magellan customers who use GPS technology for recreational purposes -- like hiking, hunting and fishing -- to now gain travel routes to city street addresses and thousands of points of interest in the continental United States and Canada.

"Costa Rica from Space," the product of a joint effort between NASA and EARTH University in Costa Rica, captures changes over the past two decades in the environment and geography of Costa Rica. The work reveals, visually and through accompanying text, geographical, ecological, climatic, human, agricultural and urban phenomena occurring within Costa Rica, but illustrating the interdependence of all inhabitants of Earth. Aerial and ground photos supplement the photography from space. For more information about the book, contact EARTH University at: Email Contact

Wherify's GPS Locator Phone is the latest product in a family of next-generation Wherify GPS locators and was shown as the world's smallest GPS Locator Phone at the CES Show in Las Vegas this week.



Going on Around the Web...

Anything You Ever Wanted to Know about GPS

Slowly Weaving Web Services Together, Business Week Online, June 24, 2003--Instead of exploding, the movement to help disparate computer systems easily communicate is gaining in fits and starts. Still, it'll likely have a powerful impact.

3-D Images Show Mars' Spirit, Wired News, January 5, 2004--NASA last Monday released a sweeping, 3-D panorama of the surface of Mars snapped by the newly landed rover Spirit, as scientists awaited the first detailed color images of the robot's surroundings.

The Best Products of 2003, PC Magazine, January 20, 2004 -From Desktops and Notebooks to Games and Educational References.

Alaska Thaws, Complicating the Hunt for Oil, NY Times, Andrew C. Revkin, January 30, 2004 --Environmentalists have begun to point out the contradictions in a situation where Arctic-wide warming, which many scientists say is at least partly driven by smokestack and tailpipe emissions, is curtailing the quest for a fossil fuel that is a prime source of such pollution.



Going on in January...

Mid-Atlantic Land Use/Land Cover Conference
Date: January 8 - 9, 2004
Place: Towson University Towson , MD USA
The second Mid-Atlantic Land Use/Land Cover Conference, focusing on landscape characterization, will be held at Towson University, in Towson, Maryland, on Thursday and Friday, January 8 and 9, 2004. The enthusiasm of the more than 150 participants at the first conference, held at Maryland''s Fort George G. Meade in April 2000, sparked awareness of need and created momentum for the present effort. The 2004 conference is sponsored by the Towson University Center for Geographic Information Sciences, the Canaan Valley Institute, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment and Chesapeake Bay Program.

CA/HI/NV/Guam ESRI 2004 Regional Users' Group Conference
Date: January 13 - 15, 2004
Place: Red Lion Hotel Sacramento, CA USA
The CA/HI/NV/Guam ESRI Regional User Group Conference returns to the mainland! This year's conference will be held at the Red Lion Hotel in Sacramento, California, January 13-15, 2004. Conference activities include technical workshops, poster displays, and vendor exhibits. There will be plenty of opportunities to network with your peers in the GIS community and learn about the latest ESRI software innovations. Registration is $250 if you register before December 19, and students can register for $125. Registration forms and information are available at the Web site. The Red Lion has set aside a block of rooms for RUG conference attendees for $84 single/double. This rate is good until December 15, 2004. For more information contact the Red Lion at 916-922-8041.

FME Training Course
Date: January 15 - 16, 2004
Place: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Join our two-day (1/3 lecture, 2/3 exercise and problem solving) course and learn to unlock the powerful features of FME to more effectively manage your data translation and data transformation challenges. FME Training can help open up a whole new world of possibilities for you. Questions are encouraged throughout the class and attendees are encouraged to bring their own sample data files.

GIS Ostrava 2004
Date: January 26 - 28, 2004
Place: Ostrava-Poruba, Czech Republic
This year marks the First International Symposium at GIS Ostrava 2004. Since 1994, this meeting has been organized every year and has developed into one of the most important GI/GIT conferences in the Czech Republic. Conference subtitle is "Mobile and Internet Technologies."

2004 SMAC Biennial Conference
Date: January 28 - 30, 2004
Place: Columbia, SC USA
Registration and detailed information will go out in December 2003 Registration: $150.00 - Entire Conference (Advanced Registration) $75.00 - Single Day (Advanced Registration) Student $35.00 - No meals (must provide copy of current Student ID)

Map India 2004
Date: January 28 - 30, 2004
Place: Hotel Taj Palace New Delhi, India
Map India 2004 is the 7th Annual International Conference and Exhibition in the field of geographic information technologies like GIS, GPS, Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing. Responding to the needs of the industry, the research community and every individual's right to Geospatial information, this year again, Map India aims to provide a platform for the convergence, sharing and use of technologies and experiences in the Geospatial domain.

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