How Our Exercises Are structured:
The exercises provided by GIS For Biologists are based around the in-person courses provided by GIS In Ecology, one of the world leaders in providing GIS training for biologists by biologists. This training uses real biological data sets to provide training in how to do specific tasks that biologists are likely to need to be able to do on a regular basis. By making these exercises available online at an easily affordable price (US$15 per exercise or $30 for all three exercises in our short course – this is in addition to purchasing the book on which these exercises are based), we hope to provide greater access to our training materials at a fraction of the prices of attending in-person courses (which are typically £295 per person for a two day course and £395 for a three day course) and without the associated travel and accommodation costs which are a barrier to many people, especially students and those working for NGOs, from attending. Through this, we hope to encourage more and more biologists to incorporate the power of GIS into their research.
Each exercise provides all the information needed to complete it, and consists of two parts. These are written instructions provided as easy-to-follow flow diagrams, which can be found in the accompanying book (GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates), and on-demand videos which provide background information on each exercise, an introduction to the data layers that will be used and a demonstration of how to do each step within the exercise. At least one video in each exercise is available for free, meaning that you can try out this video before you decide whether you’d like to subscribe to that exercise or not, while extracts from the book can be found here. The accompanying book can be purchased as a Kindle eBook or paperback, but we recommend that you purchase the paperback edition, as you will find it easier to follow the videos and complete the exercises if you have a hard copy of the book in front of you while you are working through it.
In addition, each exercise is accompanied by an Optional Extra section. These sections allow you to test your newly acquired GIS skills on a new, but related, task. If you have subscribed to the whole course, rather than an individual exercise, you will also have the option of submitting the results of these optional extras for assessment, and if all the optional extras for the exercises have been successfully completed, you will be issued with an official GIS In Ecology certificate of completion. There is an additional charge for this optional assessment and certification to cover the associated administration costs. Details of theses costs can be found in the optional extras section at the end of each individual exercise.
To purchase a subscription to the videos for the whole course, or an individual exercise, simply click on the page link for one of the exercises (we recommend you start with exercise one), and then click on the first video. This will bring up the payment options which you can use to pay for the videos you wish to access.
How To Complete An Exercise:
To start any of our exercises, first visit our Getting Started page. On this page, you will find information about which software to download to complete our exercises (QGIS 2.8.3), where to download it from, how to install it and how to set it up correctly. You will also find information about how to purchase GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates, as well as videos which cover why GIS is useful in biological research, what projections are and why they are important to get right, and how best to complete our exercises using the combination of on-demand videos and the written instructions within the above book.
Once you have installed the correct version of QGIS, and you have watched the background videos, you will be ready to start your first exercise from the list of those available that is provided below. If you are a complete beginner, we recommend that you start with exercise one (how to make a map), but you can start with any exercise you wish. Once you have selected your preferred exercise, you can click on the link below, and you will be taken to the webpage for that exercise. It is here that you will be provided with the information on how to subscribe to the videos for either the whole course, or just that individual exercise. We have done our best to keep the cost of these subscriptions (US$15 per exercise or $30 for all three exercises in our short course – this is in addition to purchasing the book on which these exercises are based) as low as possible. As a result, they should not be beyond the budget of most people, and they are substantially less than the course fees for attending the in-person courses on which these exercises are based (typically £295 for a two day course or £395 for a three day course).
List of Currently Available Exercises:
Exercise Four – How to Join Data From Different Data Layers Together
Exercise Five – Answering Biological Research Questions With GIS Part One: Identifying Spatial Patterns In An Emerging Infectious Disease
Exercise Six – Answering Biological Research Questions With GIS Part Two: Identifying Patterns In Species Diversity