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Maryland GIS Conference: Workshop Results

We had a very successful workshop on GIS at the Maryland Geospatial Conference – well, actually two workshops.  I was asked to teach a 4-hour workshop on  GIS technology:

The workshop covered 4 different topics in 4 hours: Desktop GIS with QGIS, Server based GIS with Postgres/PostGIS, Developer GIS with Python, and finally Big Data Analytics with GIS.  That’s a lot of material in a short amount of time.  I wondered what the interest would be…

We planned to open this hands-on workshop up to 16 people.  The workshop coordinators came back and asked if we could expand the workshop to 20 people, and offer two sessions throughout the day – I said sure, not knowing if we’d fill it up.   Before I knew it, we had 31 people signed up for the morning session!!  We then put a final cap of 21 on the afternoon session, just to give me a break!  So, we had over 50 people attending these two workshops – this tells me there is a huge interest among professionals to obtain hands-on training in GIS (I plan to offer more training in the coming year) – or, you can join me in one of my online GIS workshops).  In fact, for each of the four topics, I will likely offer 1 and 2 day workshops on each topic to dive deeper into each topic.

It was a whirlwind to say the least.  There was a lot of advanced material to cover in a very short period of time.  But, was it actually beneficial to cram this much information into people’s brains?  The following survey results say absolutely.  While there were lots of questions, a few of them are particularly pertinent:

The reason I do these workshops is because I want to help professionals in their career.  I was thrilled at the number of people who felt like the workshop taught them something new, made them want to apply these skills at work, and would help them in their professional development.  But, how does it compare with other workshops?

When comparing this workshop (which was obviously drinking out of a fire hose) with other GIS training they received on a scale of 1-10, almost 80% of the people in attendance rated the workshop as an 8 or better.  So, do the people want more of this?


Almost 80% of the participants rated their willingness at an 8 when asked if they would pay for more training opportunities.   And, a few of the highlights of people’s comments were:

This workshop demonstrated how you can tie together various tools and data sources together seamlessly. Like the use of open source software as well.

As a novice, I appreciated learning the highlights of multiple technologies and packages related to GIS.

Using new programs to complete analyses is hard without an introduction. This workshop provided this in an easy to understand format.

The QGIS Into and the PostGIS were most valuable to me because I had other resources and exposure to Python already BUT I still enjoyed the Python component; Big Data could be an entire course or discussion on it’s own.

I found the demonstration of using large data sets most valuable.

These are exciting results, and I can’t wait to do more.  In fact, I’m in discussion with Colorado State University to give this workshop in October in Fort Collins for the University students, and in Denver for the professional GIS community.  We are making one change, however – I am going to expand this to a full day workshop.

So, how about you?  Would you be interested in having me come out to your organization or city to give a workshop on QGIS, Postgres, Python, and big data analytics with GIS?   I’d love to meet the GIS professionals in your area and give a workshop.

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