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Pennsylvania State University launches course on Maps and the Geospatial Revolution on the FutureLearn platform

Penn State’s course on ‘Maps and the Geospatial Revolution’ is available to join now and starts on 8th May 2017

London, UK, 2nd May 2017: The leading social learning platform, FutureLearn, today announces the launch of Pennsylvania State’s course: ‘Maps and the Geospatial Revolution’.

FutureLearn announced the addition of the American-based institution to their partner portfolio earlier this year. Pennsylvania State launched their first course ‘Energy, the Environment and our Future’ in April 2017. Their second course launch, ‘Maps and the Geospatial Revolution’ is aimed at those with an interest in digital mapmaking and spatial analysis, with no prior experience necessary. Students will use free web mapping tools to make maps that tell stories about data.

With the explosion of new methods to understand and use location information, there are many GPS tools, interactive web maps and location-aware mobile devices available at consumers’ fingertips. This course explores the science of geography, using real-world examples to introduce key concepts in cartography (the science or practice of drawing maps), geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial thinking.

During the course, learners will be introduced to the Geospatial Revolution and will be able to explore what it means to ‘think spatially’, considering the impacts of scale and time on challenges that face people and our environment. They will then be able to progress to examine the key elements of spatial datasets, learn how today’s geographers solve problems using spatial analysis techniques, and finally look at the key elements of effective cartographic design.

By the end of the course, learners will be able to:

  • Practice the art and science of mapmaking using interactive web maps.
  • Explain the Geospatial Revolution and its impact on the science of geography
  • Practice thinking spatially to solve geographic problems in environmental, social, and technical domains
  • Understand how spatial data is created
  • Apply spatial analysis techniques using interactive web maps
  • Explain the key elements of effective cartographic design

Anthony Robinson, Assistant Professor of Geography and Director of Online Geospatial Education Programs at Penn State, said: “It is easier than ever to make maps, share them with your friends, and learn about how the social and environmental challenges we face can be approached through the lens of geographical thinking and technology. This course shows you how to make maps that matter, and introduces the core concepts and technologies that drive the geospatial industry today.”

Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn, commented: “Geographic information is a huge phenomenon to explore; it’s all around us and impacts the way we do things on a daily basis and the way we share information with the rest of the world. Ways of getting from A to B today have completely transformed; new technology allows us to plan trips, and ‘tweet’ or ‘tag’ our location simultaneously! We’re really excited to be working with Penn State, collaborating to improve access into higher education and advance understanding in such engaging and relevant topics.”

As with all FutureLearn courses, the course can be taken for free or there is the option to upgrade for £59 to get extra benefits.

Notes to editors

About FutureLearn

Founded by The Open University in 2012, FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform, enabling online learning through conversation. With over 6 million registered learners from over 190 countries across the globe – a community that is continuously growing – it offers free and paid for online courses from world-leading UK and international universities, as well as organisations such as Microsoft, the British Council and Cancer Research UK. FutureLearn’s course portfolio covers a wealth of areas to promote lifelong learning for a range of applications including general interest, an introduction to university studies, continuing professional development and fully online postgraduate degrees.

About Pennsylvania State

The Pennsylvania State University is a leading public research university located in State College, Pennsylvania. Almost 100,000 students attend Penn State through its 24 campuses across the state of Pennsylvania and through Penn State World Campus, its online campus. Founded in 1855 as Pennsylvania’s only land-grant university, Penn State combines academic rigor with a vibrant campus life. A nationally recognized Research-I institution, Penn State teaches students to be leaders with a global perspective. Penn State engages in collaborative activities with industrial, educational, and agricultural partners in the United States and abroad to generate, disseminate, integrate, and apply knowledge that is valuable to society.

For more information, please contact:

Rachel MacPherson, PR Executive, FutureLearn


Niamh O’Grady, Senior Communications Manager, FutureLearn

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