Geographic Information Systems I

I.     Course Prefix/Number: EAS 190 / GIS 190

       Course Name: Geographic Information Systems I

       Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 2 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course provides an introduction to digital maps, spatial analysis, and technology to explore geographic and spatial patterns. Introduces the concepts and components of a geographic information system (GIS), the basic concepts of remote sensing and Global Positioning System (GPS), and the ESRI ArcGIS® software. This course will also explore selected cases of GIS application in different disciplines to introduce students to problem solving and decision making using geospatial analysis. Students cannot receive credit for both GIS 190 and EAS 190.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  • Identify the major principles of geospatial analysis.
  • Create maps using GIS data acquisition and software.
  • Solve problems using geospatial tools and methods.
  • Collect longitude and latitude coordinates using hand held GPS devices or GPS Apps .
  • Summarize the features of real-life GIS projects developed by public safety officials, public works, planners, geographers, engineers, and other industry professionals.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics


  1. Spatial analysis: Basic concepts of geographic patterns and GIS-based analysis
  2. GIS concepts: Brief history and overview of GIS technology, terms and principles
  3. Maps: Map types, including thematic maps, and base maps
  4. Cartographic principles and designs: Map components, projections and coordinate systems
  5. Data: spatial and attribute data, raster and vector data, and data sources
  6. Web GIS: Basics and applications
  7. ArcGIS Online: Navigating, creating and sharing maps
  8. ArcGIS Desktop: Creating maps
  9. Geodatabases - Creating and using geospatial data
  10. Remote Sensing: Fundamental concepts of remote sensing and use of imagery
  11. Global Positioning System: Basic concepts of GPS technology, including mobile apps, and data acquisition


  1. Opening and exploring a map, viewing map contents, and using map tools
  2. Creating a new map, adding layers to the map, setting layer properties, defining the map, changing symbols
  3. Downloading and adding a CSV file as a layer
  4. Configuring pop-ups
  5. Create a web app
  6. Using tools to access feature information
  7. Thematic maps and data tables
  8. Geocoding
  9. Creating queries – location and attribute, and query maps
  10. Working with categories
  11. Mapping quantities and classes
  12. Mapping density and dot density maps
  13. Creating buffer features and buffering values
  14. Field data collection – GPS and GIS

VII.  Methods of Instruction

This course is presented in an online format via the DesiretoLearn® (D2L) course management system. PowerPoint presentations, screencasts, animations, selected readings, videos and/or podcasts may be included online in the course D2L site. Additionally, online tutorials and instructional modules available through ESRI will be employed.  Interactive exercises will emphasize practical, hands-on spatial experiences and learning proper techniques for creating technically correct maps as well as data manipulation for the purpose of understanding spatial thinking and problem solving.

This course is organized into a modular fashion meaning that weekly modules will contain all content and assignments. The modules will remain open after, but work will be graded as late if submitted after the due date.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Course may be taught as face-to-face, media-based, hybrid or online course.

  1. Students will learn to navigate and create maps in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Desktop. Assigned exercises include applying basic cartographic principles; locating, downloading and preparing datasets; using tools to access feature information; and creating location queries and attribute queries.
  2. A field exercise will be completed using handheld GPS units or GPS phone apps. Exercises include using technology to acquire locational data, record attribute data, and prepare and upload data to ArcGIS Online.
  3. All exams will be administered online during scheduled times during the modules.
  4. Exams and assignments are largely based on content online including voiceover PowerPoints, readings, exercises, and video clips. Material from online discussions will also be included as part of the assessment. Students will use the D2L platform to access these materials.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Campbell, Jonathan; Shin, Michael.Essentials of Geographic Information Systems.Saylor, 2011, Open Textbook Library. Web. 02 Oct. 2017. ISBN 13: 978-1-4533219-6-6. (free; open educational resource)

de Smith, J; Goodchild, M.F.; Longley, P.A. Geospatial Analysis. A Comprehensive Guide to Principles, Techniques and Software Tools.5th Ed. Winchelsea Press, 2015. Web. 02 Oct. 2017. (free)

Harder, Christian; Brown, Clint.The ArcGIS Book: 10 Big Ideas about Applying The Science of Where. ESRI, 2017. (free)

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

  • Online Exams
  • Lab assignments
  • Online Discussions on key issues/concepts
  • Final Project

XI.   Other Course Information

Any student who is unable, because of his or her religious beliefs, to attend classes or participate in any required exam, study, or work on a particular day shall be excused from that exam, study, or work requirement and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up any requirement that he or she may have missed on that day, provided that he or she notifies the faculty member or instructor well in advance of any anticipated absence or conflict between a scheduled class and the religious observance, and provided that the make-up exam, study, or work does not place an unreasonable burden upon the institution.

If you are pregnant or become pregnant during the semester, you have the option to meet with me to discuss reasonable accommodations that may be necessary. It may not be possible to grant accommodations after the fact, so it is better to prepare in advance for any possible scenarios.

Oakton has implemented an academic intervention program, and I am a participating faculty member. I am committed to your success in this course and at this college.  I may, therefore, refer you to other individuals and/or services available to help you achieve academic success. Please understand that these referrals are intended to supplement, not replace, interactions you may have with me during office hours or in class.  They are intended to provide a support network for your academic and personal success at the College.  As such, please help us help you by responding promptly and appropriately to these referrals.  If you have any questions regarding this program, please don’t hesitate to ask.

If the college closes due to an emergency, such as flooding, please check your email and course D2L shells for communication from me regarding how learning will continue to take place if the college is closed for an extended period of time. Also, don't forget to sign up for Alert Oakton to receive notifications of college closings or emergencies.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.