Welcome to the Grinnell College Web site for Geographic Information Systems (GIS)! This site contains answers to some frequently asked questions about GIS.
What is GIS?
GIS stands for “Geographic Information Systems.” Broadly speaking, GIS is exactly what it sounds like: a computerized system for working with geographic information.
What is GIS for?
GIS can be used to analyze problems in many academic discplines. Do you want to identify likely nesting sites for endangered birds? Do you want to examine the distribution of markets and fairs in medieval England? Do you want to trace the spread of a disease outbreak? Do you want to analyze the relationship between where people live and how they vote? Then GIS is for you!
How do I get GIS software?
ArcGIS is already installed on the computers in most of the campus computer labs, including the PCs in the Creative Computing Lab (CCL) and Training Room in the Forum, the Interactive Instructional Facility (IIF) in the Burling Library, the computer lab in Goodenow, and DASIL.
Faculty and staff who would like to have ArcGIS installed on their office computers should contact their ITS Support Team.
What can DASIL help me do with GIS?
- Find and access data for GIS projects.
- Learn how to use GIS software more effectively.
- For faculty, DASIL can develop GIS-based modules for courses in any discipline.
What other GIS resources are available?
The Libraries' guide to GIS Data and Maps has many links to sources for geographic data and online mapping tools.
More GIS Web sites, including sites with information on cartography and visualization, can be found here.
Are there any self-help resources for learning GIS?
ESRI, the company behind ArcGIS, offers online self-study courses on many aspects of the ArcGIS software and GIS in general. Students, faculty and staff have access to these “Virtual Campus” courses free of charge as part of Grinnell College's software license with ESRI. Please contact Karen McRitchie to register for an online course.
If you are completely new to GIS, you may want to start with this self-study course.