- Geospatial technology is a rapidly growing and changing field. The term geospatial technology (GST) refers to geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing (RS), all emerging technologies that assist the user in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of spatial data. The speed at which new fields are adopting GST, along with the speed at which equipment and software are being modified and updated, precludes many industries, much less the educational system, from keeping up to date. The issue is further complicated at the community college level because national coordination of workforce information and educational resources within the community college network is fairly poor.
Developing a Plan for the National Coordination of Geospatial Technology Education: A Community College Perspective was an effort to document the needs and concerns of community college educators and to use this information to produce recommendations for the development and operation of a National Geospatial Technology Center (NGTC).
The following ten issues were identified by community college educators as critical to GST education: 1) workforce needs; 2) core competencies; 3) professional certification; 4) curriculum development; 5) educational pathways; 6) professional development; 7) communication; 8) awareness and reaching underserved audiences; 9) the role of GST education in supporting college administrative tasks and entrepreneurialism; and 10) future trends in GST.
From the recommendations put forth in this study, it is clear that community college educators want a NGTC that will: represent their interests in national education and workforce initiatives, act as a clearinghouse to provide easy access to existing curricula and workforce information, and provide access to professional development opportunities, among other activities described in this report.
Additionally, it is imperative that a NGTC works with existing competency-related efforts (University Consortium for Geographic Information Science’s (UCGIS) Body of Knowledge; GeoSpatial Workforce Development Center’s (GeoWDC) Geospatial Technologies Competency Model; Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA) / Association of American Geographers (AAG) study, Defining and Communicating Geospatial Industry Workforce Demand, Phase I report recommendations, and existing DACUMs) to bring them closer together so that core competencies, and in turn a core curriculum, that supports many entry-level positions, can be established and agreed upon by a wide range of stakeholders. The consequences of not coming to an agreement will certainly contribute to greater gaps between what the workforce needs and what the educational system is producing.