11.520 : A Workshop on Geographic Information Systems  
  11.188 : Urban Planning and Social Science Laboratory

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Fall 2012

This Fall, 11.520 will be taught by Prof. Sarah Williams and will use this Stellar website: https://stellar.mit.edu/S/course/11/fa12/11.205/. The first class will be lab orientation session in Room 37-312 on Wednesday, Sept. 5, or Thursday, Sept. 6, at 4 pm.

The webpage you are currently viewing is from Fall 2010 and is maintained to facilitate access to that semester's lecture notes and exercises. Please note that, for Fall 2012, the first half of 11.520 is combined with 11.205 (the required half-semester GIS class for MCPs). Also, 11.188 (the undergraduate lab) will be taught separately in the Spring and will not be offered in Fall 2012.

Course Description (Fall 2010)

This class uses lab exercises and a workshop setting to help students develop a solid understanding of the planning and public management uses of geographic information systems (GIS). The goals are to help students:
    • Acquire technical skills in the use of GIS software.
    • Acquire qualitative methods skills in data and document gathering, analyzing information, and presenting results.
    • Investigate the potential and practicality of GIS technologies in a typical planning setting and evaluate possible applications.
The workshop teaches GIS techniques and basic database management at a level that extends somewhat beyond the thematic mapping and data manipulation skills included in the MCP core (the half-semester GIS and spatial analysis class, 11.205). Both 11.205 and 11.520/11.188 cover basic thematic mapping and the buffering and overlay operations (using vector and raster data) that are involved in basic 'site suitability' assessments. The full-semester 11.520/11.188 class adds a bit more database management (using MS-Access), an introduction to model building tools (Model Builder), and a small, individual project. We try to teach GIS methods and techniques with some attention to open-ended planning questions that invite spatial analysis but will
    • require judgement and exploration to select relevant data and mapping techniques,
    • involve mixing and matching new, local data with extracts from official records (such as census data, parcel data and regional employment and population forecasts),
    • utilize spatial analysis techniques such as buffering, address matching, overlays
    • use other modeling and visualization techniques beyond thematic mapping, and
    • raise questions about the skills, strategy, and organizational support needed to sustain such analytic capability within a variety of local and regional planning settings.

Students seeking graduate credit should enroll in the subject 11.520; undergraduates should enroll in the subject 11.188. The subjects meet together and have nearly identical content.

Class Meetings

  • Lecture: Wednesday, 2-3:30 PM in Room 14E-310
  • Lab Preparation & Lab: Monday, 2:00-6:00 in Room 37-312
    [Hearing the Lab prep and starting the exercise are the key lab parts. Students can leave for other classes beginning at 3:30 or 4 and finish the exercises later on their own. To accomodate the large class, the lab exercise presentation will be repeated at 4:15 so the 4-6 pm period can serve as an alternative lab time slot.]
  • Additional optional lab times to be arranged. Currently, these are Friday, 10:30 - 1:30 and Sunday, 4:00 - 7:00.

11.520 website design - Jee-seong Chung
Last modified on 4 September 2012 (JF)

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