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Denver workshops – a mixture of sadness and joy.

We just completed another

two successful Keeping Up with GIS Technology workshops out in Denver.  This was a week mixed with sadness and joy: sadness in that my Mom passed away on Tuesday, and I had to fly out of town to Denver on Wednesday (the show must go on).  But, joy, as I was able to catch up with many former students, classmates, and friends in the Denver area.  Also, relief as I got to spend the morning with my mom, and then she passed away quickly, quietly, and most importantly, painlessly – reunited with my Dad.

OK, back to the workshop.  The hospitality shown by Beth Hill Tulanowski @hethbill, and David Parr @gisdaveparr was extraordinary.  I truly enjoyed my time with them in the midst of some sadness.  The responses to both workshops was excellent, and similar to my other workshops.  The following provides a brief overview:


I always want to make sure that I am prepared, responsive, and interesting when I teach.  The chart surely shows that the students were in agreement.  But, enough about me!  The real key is if this workshop helps other professionals in their career:


The participants were very positive on learning something new in their career, using these skills at work, and having the workshop help them in their professional development.  These results are actually the best I’ve seen over the half dozen or so workshops that I have given.  Why go to a workshop if you don’t learn something new?

I have to admit, this next one is sort of an insecurity on my part.  Like Sally Field said in her acceptance speech: you like me, you really like me.  Well, not difference with me.  I want to make sure that what I am doing is of high quality and appreciated, especially when compared to other training people can get.  People have choices, so I want to make sure that I am giving them a quality workshop.


I was very pleased to see that over 80% of the participants thought that this workshop rated an 8 or above compared to other workshops they’ve taken.  This is especially true because training courses tend to be expensive.  I want to be sensitive to people’s financial situation, and would hate to offer a training course that is no better than anything else out there.

But again, previous to my other reviews, people really do believe that training is worth paying for if it teaches them something new:


Once again, 80% of the participants indicated that they would be very favorable to pay a small fee to receive this kind of training (rating of 8 out of 10).   I think this is going to also allow Colorado State University and Metropolitan State at Denver to begin offering more training to the GIS community in their area.

There were some really positive written responses as well:

Art’s communication was excellent. It’s crazy complicated stuff (potentially) but he makes it seem more approachable and less fearsome

I particularly enjoyed learning about QGIS and SQL; I’d be interested in expanded workshops on these topics (especially SQL)

Being exposed to QGIS (and learning how user-friendly it is) was fantastic. As was learning more about SQL querying in Postgres. I found the Python section a bit more obtuse, but I appreciate exposure to the language as that was one of the reasons I wanted to take this workshop.

And, in all fairness, I do ask for negative feedback as well, so that I can continually improve what I am doing:

It is tough to have this much information presented in this time-frame. I liked it but may be better to break it down. Probably need a full day for each of the 4 topics.

It was a lot to pack into one day, so the instructor had to go really fast through everything. I would have liked to take out one of the sections and get in more hands-on work.

What I Learned

The more I do these workshops, the more a thought comes to my mind: once you graduate college, very few GIS professionals have a mentor in their lives.  My students hang out in lab with me, go to sporting events, and even come over to my house.  They get a lot of my good energy, and we have great conversations.  What a shame that professionals don’t get that opportunity.  I really want to introduce more of these workshops in the country and also internationally, so that GIS professionals can not only learn new skills, but also hang out with me at lunch, between breaks at the workshop, and even afterwards for drinks.  That way, they have an opportunity to bounce ideas off of me and get feedback.  So, with the winter break and the summer coming up, I am going to try and find a few cities to continue to offer my workshops.  Please let me know if you’d like me to visit your city.

Want to learn more about GIS technologies like QGIS, Postgres/PostGIS, Python, and spatial databases?  Check out my online courses at

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